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sections on specific art media, with guidelines for creating a studio explo-
ration with each medium. Here’s how each art exploration is organized:
k Materials: a list of the materials that you’ll need for the art explora-
tion and for cleanup. You’ll likely invent your own systems and strate-
gies over time; these suggestions are to get you started.
k Setting Up the Studio: suggestions for how to arrange the materials
and set the table for the exploration. I encourage you to set up the stu-
dio for children’s first encounter with an art medium. Then during each
following encounter with that medium, coach the children about how
they can set up the work space for themselves. This invites the children
to claim the studio and the art materials as their own.
When you set the table with a work space for each child, include
a work space for yourself. If space is tight around the table, group a
set of materials on a tray that you can set on your lap, or tuck a set of
materials on a nearby shelf to pull onto the corner of the table for your
own use during the exploration. This lets you explore the materials
alongside the children and also gives you a set of materials to use for
demonstration. k Exploring and Creating: steps to follow, questions to pose, aspects of
an art medium to emphasize as you introduce and explore an art medi-
um with the children. You’ll find a lot of detail and very specific sugges-
tions about how to move through an exploration. The intention is to
help you get launched into art exploration by giving you a clear starting
place. I expect that you’ll revise and reconfigure these suggestions over
time as you invent your way into your own studio practices.
In this section, you’ll also find many examples of things you might
say to children during an art exploration. This isn’t intended as a script
to follow word for word, but as an example of how to talk with young
children about the art medium in a way that invites exploration, re-
flection, and collaboration. You’ll find your own voice as you become at
home in the studio and with the art media.
k Cleanup: a few simple suggestions about how to coach children about
the immediate cleanup of an art medium. Again, please adapt these to
fit your specific context.
k Documentation and Display: suggestions for how you might focus
your written documentation and display about the art exploration. In
this section, you’ll find a sample of written documentation from my
teaching experiences. I share these as examples of how we can com-
municate with families about the dispositions and skills that young
children acquire during art studio experiences and how we can create a
history for the children of their work in the studio.
k Ways to Build on This Exploration: suggestions for how you might
use this art medium to expand children’s learning and to strengthen
their relationships with one another.
COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL General Guidelines for Studio Explorations 43
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reflection questions Inventing Your Own Studio Practices
How did children use this medium?
Was their focus primarily sensory? Did they
venture into representational work?
What seemed to get in the way for the children
or to detract from this experience:
k Skills children needed, but didn’t have?
k The setup or the materials?
k The cleanup process?
What worked well for you as you guided the
exploration in terms of
k the language you used to describe the
materials? suggestions and guidance you offered?
k k questions you asked?
k notes and photographs you collected?
What didn’t work well for you during
the exploration process? What
adjustments did you make?
What did you learn about the children’s styles
of exploring? About their ways
of navigating challenges?
About their competencies?
What did you learn about your style of
exploring? About your way of navigating
challenges? About your competencies?
What new insights do you have
about this art medium?
What might the children want to
do next with this medium?
What do you want to remember the next time
you work with this medium?
What questions do you want to ask another
teacher about this medium?
From The Language of Art by Ann Pelo, © 2017. Published by Redleaf Press, www.redleafpress.org. This page may be reproduced for classroom use only.
44 Chapter 1