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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL • Cut some pieces up to make note cards, thank- you cards, invitations, calendars, diaries or journals, or cookbook covers. • Give them as special gifts (laminated or framed); add a photo and a drawing or mes- sage to make it personal. • Archive the artwork in binders. If the art is too big to fit in the binder, photograph it and place the photo in the binder instead. Also, photo- graph all the artwork, and use your computer to create a digital portfolio or gallery. Writing on Children’s Artwork Writing on children’s artwork is a topic that can generate mixed feelings. Writing a child’s name on her artwork is something we all just do in a hurry throughout our busy day. Until about five years ago, I did not think about it too much. One day I sent a piece of artwork home with a child. The child’s mother asked to speak with me the next morning. She asked if I could please stop writing on the front of her artwork, as she felt her daughter’s work to be so lovely that she wanted to frame some pieces. From that moment on, I began to rethink my practice of writing on the front of children’s art- work. I began to really consider it on a bigger level. Yes, her work was amazing, just as every other piece the children in the group made was amazing. And when we mark on the paper in any way, we alter their work, even in the slightest way. “How might I feel if someone wrote on my work,” I wondered? In addition, I began to look at all of the artwork cur- rently in the classroom. Several pieces had names written sloppily. On one piece, the child’s name was spelled wrong and scribbled over the top. What does this say about the value of the child’s work? Does it suggest it is not worthy of neat, tidy, well- thought-out marking? I now carefully put the name of the child and the date the piece was created on creative and authentic art  69 the back of the artwork so I don’t disrupt the child’s work. If I am in a hurry, I attach a sticky note with the information I do not have time to dictate in that moment. Marking the date a piece was created is very im- portant. It allows you to chart the child’s develop- ment throughout the year, as well as to know and to understand where that child is developmentally at any given time. Children go through a tremendous developmental and emotional growth period when they are two and three. Observing their develop- ment is crucial! Final Thoughts on Art Art is an important element in a twos-and-threes program. It is critical to provide well-thought-out projects. When planning and facilitating projects, adults need to operate at their comfort level, but eventually all art projects being offered to children should be child led and process oriented. Because big messes are a concern of many adults, finding a balance is important to make the most of the experience. We offer and explain art projects during our gathering circles. While the project typically starts as my idea, the children add their thoughts, and of- ten the project changes and goes in a new direction because of their creative input. Sometimes we try ideas that just don’t go very well. But they are great teachable moments and lead to further discovery. Having a camera and pencil and paper or sticky notes handy is very important; recording chil- dren’s language and input goes best when you are prepared. I always jot down the communication, creative ideas, and problem solving that emerges at the art center. When we are mindful of our offering of process, observations, and documentation, as well as the language we use with them, our self-reflection, and our presentation of their creative endeavors, we show children respect. Be flexible and allow chil- dren the freedom to explore and be spontaneous. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL