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Home » Articles »

Creating with Media: Preschoolers


Other ages: Grade Schoolers | Pre-Teens | Teens

Finger paints, crayons, glue sticks and paper collages are the mainstays of young children’s art making. And that certainly doesn't need to change, as preschoolers benefit greatly from moving color and shapes around with their hands. It’s possible, though, to add media tools to their art supply list. Beginning to play with digital photos, mobile phone video clips and audio recordings will let your preschooler know that media are more than entertainment — they can also be building blocks for their own creativity.

  • Talk about what a story is when reading books or watching a program.
    Help your child understand that a story has a structure — it has a beginning, middle and end — and that there are different kinds of characters, like princesses, witches and villains who play specific roles. Ask: Did that happen at the beginning of the story or the end? How come? What happened next? Why do you think the witch did that?
  • Make a scrapbook out of pictures and other items from activities you do with your child.
    Print out digital family photos and screenshots from favorite stories stored on an e-reader to assemble a book of your own. Give your child opportunities to make choices, such as which picture goes where and what a caption should say. Encourage your child to think about sequence — which picture follows next and why — and frame, perhaps drawing people and objects left out of a photograph.
  • Give your child a chance to play writer and director.
    Write down a script as your child tells you a story then have her cast family members in various roles. Have everyone play his or her part as you read back the story. Ask about the characters: What do they like to wear? Do they have any special powers? Who is in their family?
  • Use a computer and cell phone to create art with your child.
    Print out black-and-white pictures and help your child use crayons or paints to bring them to life. Image searches for sketches are an easy way to locate simple drawings. Better yet, use a camera, even one on your cell phone, to make a digital image of your child's artwork or a movie of her describing what she has made. Designate a folder or specific, easy-to-find area on the hard drive as a “rotating exhibit” of her creations.
  • Make a recording of your child singing and reciting rhymes and funny words.
    Have fun making up new sounds and songs. Remember to stop often to play back what you have recorded, letting your child enjoy the sound of her creations. Many cell phones have a voice memo function that will allow you to capture sounds on the go just as some handheld game devices also have a built-in recorder.
  • Help your child send a letter, email message or text to family and friends.
    While you type or write and your child dictates what she wants to say, you can offer prompts that will introduce her to the conventions of writing, such as how to begin and end a letter. Pairing a photograph that your child helps you take with a text message also is a chance to talk about what “words say” and what “pictures say” — sometimes they aren’t the same.
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