There is a disturbing trend in children’s art supplies. It appears to be a movement toward “no mess” art. This is so wrong. Children need to make mess. They must touch things, smear things, taste things, experience things in order to learn.
Children learn through their five senses. In constructivist theory, the learner takes an active role in constructing his own understanding rather than receiving it from someone who knows. If a child doesn’t experience paint dripping, how will they know that paint doesn’t stay where you put it? Piaget explained how learning builds on experience. According to Kolb, who described learning as a cycle of stages, a child, or a person, really, must learn learn from experience. How will a child move along those stages of learning if they don’t have experiences?
In early childhood, art is a medium for math and science – knowing what happens when you mix red and blue or creating shapes that lead into early writing.
What is a child learning from this?
The colors magically appear on the magic paper. There is no way to color outside of the lines, to scribble, to make a mistake.
Same thing. No chance to branch out and do what you want. This is taking coloring in a coloring book one step farther. Did you know that in child care we are not supposed to use coloring book pages because it limits the child’s creativity? I think coloring books are awesome and serve a purpose: relaxation, control of the crayon, practice holding a writing utensil. But what purpose do the no-mess art pages serve?
Check out this one:
Again, this takes the science and math out of painting. No need to practice how to load the paint brush or control your drips. No child will turn this into brown mud. No, each picture will be a perfect image of what you see on the box.
Our children are already sensory deprived. The lack of tactile stimulation can lead to further problems. Caregivers today must also worry about children being nature deprived. Are we also going to deprive them from learning experiences that enrich their understanding of the world around them and cause them to ask questions?
There is a Doctor Who episode where he tells the human journalist, “Ask questions.” Well, our children need to ask questions of the world around them, and try things. Art is one way for them to do that. Don’t take away the experimenting from them.