Mister J and I had some Mommy one on one time the other Saturday. Our wonderful local Arts Center, PFAC, has free weekends once a month so I had pre-planned on going.
PFAC has rotating themed exhibits. The one we saw was "Aquatic" which was perfect for Jonas since he is such an ocean and shark lover. Then in the back of the center the have their "Hands on Art" kids center.
It is chock full of art books, manipulatives, art games, art puzzles, craft materials (that you're free to use), and more.
As you can see from above we made full use of all of their goodies. Jonas is a block and puzzle lover so he gravitated toward those first. Then he spied the art supplies and was off. He pulled out various pieces and decided he'd make a dinosaur puppet. All on his own. No prompting. I love how they just stock lots of open ended materials and let the kids decide what to make.
I also loved it because I could just be one on one with him. My older kids have to share me a lot because of Miss B. Which is fine and is just the life stage we're in but I still try to make a point to have Mommy dates.
Another reason why I enjoyed this trip so much was that Jonas got to be totally immersed in art. His creativity was unhindered. There was no agenda. He was able to freely express himself and had multiple mediums to do so.
I've been reading and researching a bit more on child development and more specifically differences between boys and girls.
In particular earlier on boys tend to be weaker when it comes to fine motor skills, which seems be related to how boy's parietal lobes process sensitive tactile data. At times this can deter them from certain art mediums. Boys also learn best experientially at a young age due to the amount of grey matter boys have in their brains which makes their brains less able to multitask. Having lots of manipulatives out and keeping verbal instructions to a minimum are best. (Gurian 124)
So with that in mind art matters quite a bit. No only does it encourage boys to use fine motor skills in fun and engaging ways, which then helps build up their parietal lobe, but it also allows them to learn experientially and hands on. I think most importantly is that- for both boys and girls- art is a whole brain activity, like music. All hemispheres are being stimulated when kids are allowed to make art in an open ended environment with minimal direction. Plus since our brain is a muscle, when little ones are using all of it- their brains are getting a workout, in a good way.
If you're ever in Newport News, check out PFAC! Admission is cheap and it's worth it just on the money you'll save on art supplies. Plus there's a gorgeous park and trail nearby and a neat wooden playground right next door.
Ps: Linking up this week with my dear friend Nicole at Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm and Craft On!
Love & Light,