Montessori Philosophy and Practice

1-3 YEARS—Art

The following is the text from this section of the 2009-2010 edition of The Joyful Child, Montessori from Birth to Three
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AGE 1-3, ART
The truth is that when a free spirit exists, it has to materialize itself in some form of work, and for this the hands are needed.
Everywhere we find traces of men's handiwork, and through these we can catch a glimpse of his spirit and the thoughts of his time.
—Dr. Maria Montessori

Art is a way of approaching life, of moving and speaking, of decorating a home and school and oneself, of selecting toys and books. It cannot be separated from other elements of life.
We cannot “teach” a child to be an artist, but as Dr. Montessori says, we can help him develop:
An Eye that Sees
A Hand that Obeys
A Soul that Feels

Art Materials
At this age children are capable of many forms of art, including cutting and pasting paper, drawing with chalk, black and colored pencils and beeswax crayons, painting with water color and poster paints, and molding clay. Avoid felt pens and paints and clay with strong dyes and ingredients that are too harsh for the very young and sensitive child.

It is fun to do special art projects in the home and infant community, but even at this young age children benefit from having a variety of art materials available to them at all times and a space to work, uninterrupted, when they are inspired.

It is important to provide the best quality that we can afford—pencils, crayons, felt pens, clay, paper, brushes—and to teach the child how to use and care for them, and especially how to clean and put everything away so everything— the work space, the table and chair and the art materials—will be ready for the next great creative urge.

Art Appreciation
The quality of the first toy rattles and mobiles is the first intrinsic lesson of art appreciation for a child.

The same is true of the choice of toys, posters and other art work on the wall of the child's room and in the rest of the house, the dishes and cutlery, and the way objects are arranged in baskets on shelves, or hanging on hooks—creating order and beauty.

Every part of the home influences the child's developing sense of beauty and balance, shape, and color.

Reproductions of great masterpieces inspire an appreciation of beauty at any age. Great plant and animal art collections can be made from old calendars. These can be hung at the child's eye level in any part of the house—bedrooms, bathroom, even the laundry room and garage.

© Susan Mayclin Stephenson, 2010 (
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