Art and Reading

Did you know that art and reading are related?  That children who receive regular drawing instruction do better with learning to read,  creating their letters, and later on in their school career score higher on the MEAP tests than children who don’t have regular art experiences?

There is a children’s book illustrator and educator who is actually doing something about this.  Her name is Wendy Halperin Anderson.  Wendy is an acclaimed artist who has illustrated dozens of children’s books, including Let’s go Home by Cynthia Rylant, Soft House by Jane Yolen, and Turn, Turn, Turn! by Pete Seger.    Wendy has also written three books of her own, the latest being Peace, which has its own website.  And guess what, Wendy lives  right here in Michigan, in South Haven.

I had the privilege of speaking with Wendy last week  via phone while I was doing some research on illustrating children’s books.   I had chosen Wendy to investigate because I was attracted to and admire her art work in children’s books.  But I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Wendy has a wonderful program going on that teaches teachers and children to draw.  She works with the school system in her area.  Wendy strongly believes that a child’s first experience with art is when he/she is attempting to create the letters of the alphabet.   It’s all related, according to Wendy, trying to make the curved lines, the grip of the pencil, the eye hand coordination, etc.    Obviously research supports her efforts.  If you want to investigate this further, and find out for yourself, please go to her website, Drawing Children into Reading.  I guarantee you will find it fascinating.  And while you are at it, type in her name, and see her beautiful art work in the many books she has illustrated.  I believe Wendy also conducts drawing workshops, and if so, this would be covered in her website as well.

I greatly admire Wendy, and hope not only to attend one of her workshops, but meet her in person one day soon.

Let me know what you think of her ideas and artwork!

Double Duty

Recently I took an art class at our local college.  While working on the final project (it was a very large size compared to the prior pieces), I was having difficulty getting the longs strips of heavy watercolor paper to stay flat and adhere to the base before the glue (rubber cement) dried.  At one point I was working in my kitchen and grabbed my rolling pin which happened to be handy.  As soon as the rubber cement was applied, I quickly began rolling the rolling pin back and forth until  the two pieces of heavy paper were soundly glued.  Success!  This worked so well that I added the rolling pin to my bag of art supplies.   During the next class, my instructor watched me intently as I rolled away at adhering papers together.  He smiled and said, “I never would have thought of that.  I think I will add rolling pins to my list of supplies for my next year’s classes.”

Recycling?  Sure!  We all do it at sometime or other.  It not only saves money but “kills two birds with one stone” as the saying goes.  It is especially handy while doing art projects.  Here are some other items I have found to have two lives:

Chop Sticks-When we order Chinese to go, we get these chop sticks with the dinner.  I use them to get the last of the hard- to -get glue out of my glue bottles.  No glue is wasted, and there is no clean up: throw the sticks away when done with them.  They work especially well with the tall bottles.  (popsicle sticks are not long enough to reach the bottom of the bottle)

Phone books: (Especially the big thick ones)  If you don’t have a cutting mat handy, these make a good substitute.  They will protect your surface from getting marred or scratched.  I have used one while cutting with a Xacto knife, as well as while using an awl to poke holes while making a Japanese Stab Binding book.

Plastic Pillow Case Holders (the kind that have a zipper):  These are made of heavy duty plastic and work great for  storing just about anything you can think of.  I use one for all my drawing pencils, erasers, etc., and another one for all my gray scale markers and black pens.    You could use one for your child to take to school as a carrier for his/her pencils and such.  Or keep sewing supplies in it.  The list is endless.

Empty yogurt cups:  Make great water holders for watercolors.  Easy wash up.

Piece of wallpaper from a sample book:  Tape it to your surface and kids can work with play dough or clay on it.  These substances tend to resist sticking to the wallpaper piece, making easy clean up.  (make sure you use a piece that has a smooth vinyl type feel to it)

These items could  have more lives, maybe even nine!  Maybe you have some tools that have done double duty for you.  If so, please share!