No matter the type of art, children can improve writing skills as they study different forms and apply their senses and stories into writing. Help your child select a form of art and, together, complete the following tasks to enhance his or her writing skills. (This is a great activity for Thanksgiving weekend or a holiday break — art is all around you, even in holiday decorations!)
Selecting the art
Remember that art takes many forms, so follow your child’s interests. Look for an image or piece that inspires your child–one that he or she takes an extra minute to examine. For these activities, use artwork that your child didn’t complete. (We’ll look at using your child’s own art in writing in a later article.)
Places to find images of art:
- photography magazine
- art museum
- around your house
- online (click here for a google search of art images)
Once you’ve selected the art, print it, cut it or take a picture of it so that your child will be able to look closely. If it’s 3D art, be sure to plan for time to work in front of the piece.
3 Activities to enhance writing skills using art
Using the art as inspiration, help your child brainstorm words about the art. To guide her, prompt her by asking “what colors do you see?” and “what feelings does this painting (picture, piece…) give you?” and write the answers on a brainstorming paper (usually, a blank paper to list thoughts will work just fine.) It helps to model brainstorming, so sit with her and create your own list. Limit the time you spend brainstorming to about 5 minutes.
Write a story about the art
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s time to create those words. Help your child organize a story about the art, using some of the describing words.
One of the hardest tasks for children is that they often feel they have to write the “right” story, based on what the artist was creating. Remind them that this is not the point of the exercise. The point is to create their own stories. For example, the story can be based on what Mona Lisa had for lunch before the painting was created. Or, in this picture of a dog and birds, perhaps your child will write about the conversation or thoughts the animals or having. Or what may happen next. This image of a fisherman may inspire a story about dinner that evening or a story about the man and his life that led to that moment. What’s important is that there is no right or wrong answer–each person, each writer, will be inspired to tell a different story when he or she sees the picture.
Some people can jump right in and start writing. Others may need to discuss ideas first. Find what works best for your child by asking if he’d like to discuss his ideas first.
Write a letter to the artist
Remind your child that the art was created by someone, and for a reason. Create a list of questions that your child wants to know about the art: What inspired the picture? Why did the artist use the colors he used? Is the little boy in the painting/photo/sculpture a friend or a stranger?
Sadly, the chance of having the letter responded to will be difficult in this case, as it’s very difficult to find a way to contact the artist. However, if the artwork is in a gallery or museum, don’t hesitate to send the letter there with cover letter asking that the letter be forwarded to the artist. If the artist is deceased, discuss with your child that, because the letter won’t be returned, it may be fun to try to research the answers on the internet or through the gallery or museum where the art is displayed.
Alternatively, your child can write a different letter to the museum. Suggested questions may include
- Why did you opt to include this piece in your museum?
- Is this a popular piece of art?
- What have patrons commented about the art?
- How does the art fit in your museum/gallery? How is it displayed?
Remember, the image is inspiration–art can take us anywhere. Your job, as a parent, is to guide your child to think beyond the images he sees.
© 2014 – 2015, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.