Little Children & the Elements of Art: "The Line" and a Rationale!


I am preparing for my annual Montessori Art Workshop for AMS Interns and I am looking for the reasons why art is important in the Preschool environment. I came across a wonderful homeschool website: Inspired Montessori & Arts and this gem of a video from Dundee Montessori School:

                           "Lines & Patterns" from the Montessori School of Dundee

Sometimes, parents (and even teachers) question the significance of art activities in the Pre K learning environment. There are some children who "do nothing but ART all day!" I always imagine that Picasso was like that as a child...

It's true, in my 30 + years as a teacher, I have seen certain children head straight for the art area and spend hours there. I always fall back on my Montessori foundation based on the idea that a child is guided by the inner spirit to do what s/he really needs to do in order to create oneself. I have also seen those very same children one day (finally!) move to another area of the learning environment and whizz through the activities there. (Ex: go through virtually every math activity in a week's time!) 

For sure, the children who spend a good chunk of their time doing art, invariably develop important fine motor skills & eye/hand coordination. (let's not forget problem-solving skills!) Below are photos of a 4 yr old who spent months in the art area of the Montessori classroom and then went through a spurt of activity in the Language and Science areas because she found that she loved writing! (and her hand muscles were well prepared from all that time spent doing art)

                 Four yr old girl who did art every day!

          Same girl beginning to move into writing every day in the art area!

            Same 4 yr old girl who later spent months in the science area creating books!

What is important for the teacher, who is the one who facilitates the child's learning, is to set up plenty of activities in each curriculum area that appeal to the many children who love to do art. Doing art prepares the muscles of the hand for writing!
Practicing the first lesson of Art..."LINE" as seen in the video above not only gives the child the beginning point for every great work of art, but also gives the child a real-world way to continue to master the skills needed for writing, and all future handwork. 

It's easy to see the importance of mastering the element of LINE in art when you look at:

Leonardo da Vinci

Vincent Van Gogh

Claude Monet

Henri Matisse

And, of course, Pablo Picasso

I'm sure all those "little Picassos" out there will cherish their early art activities of mastering the line!

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