Handwork

 
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In choosing handwork curricula, it is important to give the children techniques of the useful crafts of their home and society such as carpentry, sewing and embroidery. They will also create with clay, paint, and paper. Always they will be taught the techniques and possibilities of the media, so that they have a successful experience.

As well as techniques for these special crafts, we can do handwork as part of nature study, physical science, social studies, math, music, and other subjects. As part of nature study, children are taught to be keen observers. They can watch a spider spin his web and draw their observations. They can grow a crocus from a bulb and keep a record of the growth with drawings. They can observe the branch structure of trees in winter and use that knowledge in their drawings. They can draw and label parts of the body, insects, animals, and fish. The study of geography is accompanied by map work, study of land forms, rocks, and how people live in different areas of the world. It is important to relate art and handwork to cultural geography. When making masks, for example, the children are introduced to the use of masks throughout the world. They are shown pictures, or better yet, the masks themselves from different areas of the world, and are taught their use and significance.

There are many handwork activities that add to a child's mathematical knowledge: work with tessellating geometrical figures, drawing polygons, creating polyhedra from paper, creating curves with straight lines, and understanding pattern and design. Measuring skills are used in many projects. They keep geometry portfolios, which are very carefully drawn and colored.

It is helpful and interesting to tell children stories of some of the great artists and get them to realize how each of those artists had to learn everything from the very beginning before they could create great works of art. They had to learn how to grind the colors, how to prepare the canvas and do the sketches for the picture. They underwent years of training before they were allowed to paint part of a master's painting - perhaps part of the background, or a tree.

It is important to have good art books in the classroom so that the children can sit down and look at them. Show children to place a book on a table and to turn the pages with care. Slides of great paintings are also available, and children enjoy viewing them through individual hand held viewers. It is also a good idea to have one or two fine paintings in the classroom, hung at the children's eye level. Of course, today it is possible to visit almost every great museum on the Internet. The computer assisted study of art can help us all learn to recognize and appreciate great art, become familiar with various artistic styles and media, and develop our ability to become aware of elements of design.

Throughout our study of handwork, we inspire children by showing them beautiful examples from throughout the world, linking their own personal experience with creative expressions of people from many different cultures. When we begin paper cutting exercises, we show them beautiful examples from China, or Poland where paper cutting has developed into a true art form. The activities for children always start simply, soon require finer hand movement, so that the children can perfect their abilities. The following activities are part of a sequence that lead the children to very fine work.

Technique