Dragons, Big Fish and doing Art with preschoolers

So you know how the second you find out you’re pregnant you run to the store to buy your very. own. copy of “What to Expect when you’re Expecting?”  The what to expect people have resources to see you through from pregnancy to preschool and today I’m writing for them about preschoolers, dragons and art.  

photo copy Every year, our hometown of Grand Rapids transforms the heart of the city into an interactive art competition known as ArtPrize. Visitors and citizens are encouraged to spend three weeks visiting the 168 venues and taking in more than 1,500 pieces of art.

Then, the winners are entirely decided by a vote of the people, and the winner walks away with $200,000.

Enter me, writer, blogger, art lover, and mother of two vibrant preschoolers, ages 4 and 2.5. Not only do I want to engage in this explosion of creativity for myself, but I want to use it as a springboard for which to introduce my children to the breadth and heart of the art world.

I have to admit, I didn’t have a plan going into it. I just loaded the mini van with sippy cups, snacks, and a backpack harness for my wandering toddler and headed downtown.

I navigated the highway on-ramp while thinking about how to frame the meaning of elusive concept of art in a way my children would understand, at least a little.

“Hey guys, what you think art is?”

My two-year-old son looked up from his bowl of grapes, gave an emphatic “I don’t photo copy 3know!”and returned to his snack.

My four-year-old daughter, however, was keen to engage the topic. “Mom, art is something you make with crayons and paint and paper.”

Right on, good start.

“Can art be a statue or a sculpture, something bigger than paper?” I asked her.

She agreed that a statue could be art, but struggled when I asked her if music, dancing, and special food could be included under the art umbrella.

I allowed the gears of my mind to turn for a few stoplights. How to explain something as complex as ALL THE ART to a four-year-old?

Then something struck me, something that might help it click. “Hey guys! What if art is anytime you take what you feel on the inside and turn it into something you can see, touch, taste, or hear?”

Head on over to What To Expect’s Word of Mom to finish this up.