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art vs craft

art vs craft

You got your glasses on? You paying attention? This is the THE biggest tip I have about doing art with kids. Ready?

Don’t show them a finished example.  

There I said it.  This gets me riled up.  I know, I know.  Take a chill pill, Hayley! But I’m serious. Here’s why…

Little kids often don’t have confidence in their decision making skills, especially in topics they aren’t familiar with, like visually expressing their ideas and art.  They don’t want to be wrong.  Usually, they don’t want to be different than their peers. That’s why little kids look at each other or other peer’s papers before answering new questions.  If you show them an example of what to create, they no longer create. They copy. They don’t think through a prompt, they don’t try to visually execute an internal idea.

Here’s what to do instead:

  • Make sure they understand the prompt.  Talk about the vocabulary and ask them questions to test their knowledge. 
    i.e. “Tell me about raccoons?” “What size is a raccoon?” “Where do raccoons live?” “What do you think raccoons like?”
  • Mybe they don’t have enough knowledge about the topic. Try reading a book about the topic, watching a show or movie about the topic, or compare/contrast something similar.
    i.e. They are unfamiliar with the term “jungle”.  Read a book about a jungle or an animal that lives in a jungle.  Watch a documentary about monkeys or animal that lives in the jungle or a cartoon that takes place in the jungle. Compare and contrast a jungle vs a forrest.
  • Lastly, make sure they are confident with the medium and techniques they are allowed to use. 
    i.e. model how to use watercolors, different ways to make marks, saturation of color, layering the color, using a pencil lightly first etc. These technique and medium practices can be based more on copying. 

Older kids can benefit from a working model during a prompt, but I still don’t suggest a finished example. Why? Just because they have more skills and more experiences with art, doesn’t mean they have confidence in their ideas and how they represent them visually. 


Allowing kids to think through how to visually express their interpretation of a prompt promotes ciritcal thinking, self expression and creativity.  

Copying a model changes art time into craft time.

I’ll stop here. 

Peace babes. 

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