The art experiences provided in each casa dei bambini will differ with culture, location, availability of materials, and decision of the directress.
Materials could be chosen to represent various media or based on sensorial exploration of the various elements of art, but always the emphasis is on providing keys to further exploration and use, not to provide every single art experience possible, focusing on how to use the various media.
First, the child is provided with keys to explore the elements of art. Later we name and use them in studying works of art by the children and by various masters of art.
It is nice to have high-resolution prints of sculptures in addition to actual three-dimensional items in the environment and other pieces of works of art. All works should be rotated with long enough time for the children to truly study the works, but with enough changing to see various works, yet not have a too-cluttered environment.
- Children seem to easily connect with the works of Picasso
- Mary Cassatt has many works of children participating in practical life works.
The direct aim of all art experiences in the casa is self-expression and the exploration of art elements.
The children do not produce crafts as such and the directress does not present this, simply presenting how to use the materials directly, being careful to keep her own work as open-ended as possible.
Children in the casa come in at varying stages of art development and abilities and each one should be respected and encouraged.
- When a child’s work is brought to the directress for display, the directress should avoid general praise, instead asking the child to tell her about his work or commenting on the child’s use of color, line or another element of art.
- The children have individual drawers or cubbies in which to place their works of art for later use, taking home, recycling or other use.
- The art materials are generally stored on trays or in baskets in complete sets,
- except that paper and fabric are stored separately for choosing according to individual needs.
- As the children proceed in their refinement of movement, smaller tools should be provided.
- An art oilcloth or mat should be used to define the child’s work space on the table and is white or ideally off-white to not be a distraction – this could be made from a flexible cutting board.
- Some how-to-draw books are good for the older children; similar to recipe books, they provide step-by-step instructions to follow on the child’s own, and knowledge gleaned can easily be applied to other work outside the realm of the few books provided. These are best for elementary.
HINT: Oilcloth as described in most Montessori trainings is a form of vinyl at the fabric store - NOT the fuzzy backed thin stuff called oilcloth at the fabric store. This stuff is a bit thicker, very easy to wash, no fuzzies and cuts very easily. You can almost always find it on the remnants racks in various colors; otherwise it is found in utility fabric and sometimes around home decor.