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Children sit next to each other on a classroom carpet. One child has her hand extended, thumb raised.


Susan Roberts

Susan Roberts

May 1, 2020

Literacy and the arts go hand in hand. How do they work together so our little ones can learn pre-literacy skills which include expanding vocabulary, sharpening visual perception and critical thinking? Interacting with fine art to increase pre-literacy skills is something teachers do all of the time. But it is usually done with books.

Let’s look at enhancing pre-literacy skills with fine art:

Here are two pictures with a starry night theme. As educators you can have your children describe each picture; talk about the elements of the picture, the colors and shading, count the stars, and notice similarities and differences, etc. With these pictures you can choose to talk about movement, and the strokes of the painter’s brush. How do you know it’s nighttime? How does the picture make you feel? Can your children tell a story about the starry night or about when they experienced a starry night? You may have your children try to make a starry night picture of their own with paints, or paper scraps, star stickers or stencils:

It really doesn’t matter if one picture is by Eric Carle and the other by Vincent Van Gogh. With the second picture you are exposing children to a painting they will see many times throughout their lives. You are giving them knowledge they can build upon in the future.

Taking children to an art museum introduces them to a wonderful learning experience. Due to transportation issues and supervision many teachers cannot arrange such a trip. You can bring fine artwork to your children by sharing prints and reproductions. You will be helping them develop an awareness and appreciation for art, as well as increasing important pre-literacy skills.

A drawing of a field at night with a starry sky,
Van Gogh's painting 'Starry Night'
A child's painting, blue and green on white paper.
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