According to Americans for the Arts, an arts advocacy organization, activities structured around the arts, including both performing and visual arts, can help kids develop critical-thinking skills, exercise imaginations and increase problem-solving abilities. While the world of visual arts primarily deals with artistic endeavors that people can look at, including painting, sculpture, photography or drawing, the performing arts arena includes action-oriented activities like dance, music and drama.
Activities for Grade Schoolers
Children in kindergarten and the early elementary years don't have the sophistication in their gross- and fine-motor skills to do complex arts activities. Plenty of fun projects, however, are possible for your little one to try. If you are looking for a structured activity, preballet and creative movement provides opportunities to both learn and perform. Informal performing arts activities might include basics such as dancing to a CD, tapping an easy tempo on a drum or play-acting with dress-up clothes. For example, the child development experts at PBS Parents suggest that kids in the early elementary years -- 7 to 8 years of age -- try acting out both real-life and imaginary scenarios .Easy visual arts activities can include cut or torn paper collages, painting with temperas or experimenting with play clay.
Older Grade School Activities
The National Dance Education Organization notes that 82 percent of U.S. students have no access to dance education at school, making it mostly up to the parents to take control over these performing arts activities. Classes at a private dance school or with the academy or education section of a dance company are fun, and useful, activities for the older grade-schooler. If your child is more of a music fan, and you are looking for a listening experience with professionals, take your child to a family friendly symphony or orchestra activity. For example, the Seattle Symphony has family concerts that feature classic symphonies performed at a child's pace for kids 12 years of age and younger, and accompanying music classes that include a dance or percussion activity and a craft. Visual arts enthusiasts might enjoy a more elaborate painting project. Try setting up an easel outside and paint en plein air -- French for painting in open air.
As your child ages, she might enjoy advanced drama activities that include using a script or a literary source as a basis for theatrical scenes or even trying out for a local children's theater group play. Likewise, middle-schoolers are ready for a more advanced musical experience and might have fun setting up their own garage band with friends. By middle school, your young visual artist can try more intricate or thoughtful activities. Try a mask making craft using plaster and paint or have your child create an abstract sculpture by bending craft wire into free-form shapes.
Your teen is just steps away from becoming an independent young adult. Support his interest in the arts through advanced types of activities. For example, instead of just encouraging your teen to start a garage band, nudge him to try writing his own song lyrics and composing his own music. Additionally, your teen might enjoy exploring different styles in art areas such as break dancing, hip hop dance, improv theater, painting in a specific style such as Impressionism or creating modern sculptures with clay or by carving.
- Americans for the Arts: Fact Sheet About the Benefits of Arts Education for Children
- National Dance Education Organization: Field at a Glance: Dance Education
- Seattle Symphony: Family Concerts and Activities
- PBS: Plein Air
- PBS Parents: Creative Arts: 7 to 8
- Incredible Art Department: Masks and Maskmaking
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