Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Color-a-tivity" in Children's Art

COLOR-a-TIVITY??? My color-a-tivity?
The POWER of questions!! 
One of my favorite portions of making "author/illustrator music-lady" visits to schools is offering those in attendance the opportunity to ask questions. Most often my time is spent with Preschool + Kindergarten students, where the most frequently asked question is "How old are you?" 

This past week I had the amazing opportunity to visit the elementary school of our very own contributing author, Joanna Davis. Her school serves children in kindergarten all the way through especially mature FIFTH graders. LUV LUV LUV having the opportunity to work with such maturity!!

The question up above came from the mind of one of her third graders, "Where do you get your color-a-tivity?" At that moment Joanna and I exchanged knowing smiles and I have a feeling that we each thought -- now there's a new term I need to file away for use later. 

Welcome to my ramble on color-a-tivity

As a former elementary school Art teacher myself, I had been looking forward to walking Joanna's hallways for months. I got to see their glorious circle mural with my own eyes!! Joanna had written of the process of creating this beauty here at PreK+K earlier this year. Seeing it with my own eyes, hanging outside her classroom door, I was transported by its color and design delight. I get my 'color-a-tivity' from appreciating and studying the innocence of children's artwork. 

Look at the amazing 'color-a-tivity' of these springtime birdies -- also proudly on display at Garden Elementary, created under Joanna's guidance and encouragement. What brilliant interplay between the mixed media and the array of color. 

What's your guess? Which piece of art was created by a student in elementary school? Which two pieces were created by a professional artist and are for sale in an upscale gallery? Drum roll...........................

Did you guess correctly? Did you select Claire's masterpiece as the one created in elementary school? 

Yes. I'm inspired by the colorful explosion within children's Art. Then to complete the cycle I use that inspiration in my own professional work -- while creating my quilts that become the illustrations in my picture books. 

Once my ideas are published and in the hands of teachers -- then children create their response to my work. Full cycle indeed! Pictured below is a two page spread in my first book, "You're Wonderful" followed by the collaborative community quilt created in New York by 331 kindergarten students: COLOR-A-TIVITY!!!

Whenever you can 'extend' the life of the book through a multi-discipline experience you strengthen the foundation for reading. Having children respond to a book's illustrative style creates a strong connection to books, the process of reading, authors, and the world of literacy opportunities. 

I get my 'color-a-tivity' from playing with fabric. I collect the happiest that I can find, especially pieces with stripes, polka dots and other design elements. I fold it and keep it organized by color family. 

Last week I created a blog post of 'organizational photos' that I have taken thru my travels. It's a big hit! We can all use encouragement to get our collections organized: Duplos, Boomwackers, fine motor manipulative materials, the whole nine yards! [Go here to see oodles of photos of ideas for organizing the many materials that are a part of the early classroom.] 

Here's where I get my color-a-tivity!!! FABRIC!!! 

Let's continue in our celebration of color............ 

I've created an ongoing series of blog articles at my personal blog, entitled "Fine Motor leads to Fine Arts" and they've typically been published on Fridays. Here are some images of the color-a-tivity seen in children's Art.

Butterflies created from 'Eric Carle' inspired painted paper
Collaboration in exploring color theory thru paint mixing hand-prints!
Rainbow of colored pasta as seen in Reggio Emilia Italy

Here's a color-ific little idea for a Father's Day bulletin board or a personal card for the occasion. 

We started the article with a question......... this poster of questions was hanging in the music room just over my shoulder as I interacted with the students last week. Good reminders for all of us!

There's Joanna and moi at the end of a sunny day. Pulling out of the parking lot I spotted the lighted marque!!! My name up in lights!

To read more about my approach to Artist-in-the-Schools, creativity and children's Art work hop on over to my blog, Rainbows Within Reach

P.S. Our blog here in now officially 6 months old! We've had just a blink short of 250,000 views in that time. By all means share our address with your friends, pin our images and add our URL to your blogroll!! We're growing!

               -- Debbie --


  1. I'm a big believer in the concept of color-a-tivity myself! So humbling to be in the presence of greatness---thanks again for your wonderful visit, the kids are still talking about it!

    1. Well of course we are a mutual admiration society. The day was so much fun. Thanks for making all of the arrangements!!! Can't wait to meet you at Wilson's across the country -- summer + ice cream!!

      Thanks for letting me get a glimpse behind the scenes.


  2. Awesome post, Debbie! Just looking at the amazing color-a-tivity of all the beautiful examples makes me smile! I pinned your post to my Kids' Art Projects Pinterest board at http://pinterest.com/debchitwood/kids-art-projects/. (I also pinned your organization post to my Organization and Preparation board!)


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