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GET SMART WITH ART How the Arts Develop the Brain and Contribute to Learning for ALL Young Children Sandy Putnam-Franklin & Su Theriault Institute for Community Inclusion University of Massachusetts, Boston How Art Makes You Smart What is arts education? Movement and Dance Music
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How the Arts Develop the Brain
and Contribute to Learning
for ALL Young Children
Sandy Putnam-Franklin & Su Theriault
Institute for Community Inclusion
University of Massachusetts, Boston
Movement and Dance
Research Reinvisioned for the 21st Century
Engagement of the senses
Massachusetts Guidelines for Preschool Learning Experiences (2003)
Universal Design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.
- Ron Mace, Architect
Increases access for all
Encourages students to participate and try new ideas
Increases retention of all students
Respects individual learning styles
Support one student
Require extra planning time
Both Accommodations and UD
Creating environments, curriculum, and assessment
strategies that accommodate the widest variety of
young children’s learning styles and needs. It also
involves including families in the process.
Curriculum & Instruction
Gross motor development
Fine motor development
Visual memory development
The brain’s greatest capacity
for change occurs during the
There needs to be good
between both sides of the brain
The human brain at birth
14 Years Old
6 Years Old
A process in which the child develops the skill
and ability to take in, interpret, and respond to
information from the environment.
Play dough, clay
Physical education and recess
Gross motor activities
Sensory motor experiences
Combine movement and music
Position in space
Functional movement patterns
Move in, move up, move all around
Keep the brain and body sound
The more you move
The more you’ll prove
That spinning and turning
Are good for learning!
- From Learning With the Body in Mind by Eric Jensen
Are ways of using pictorial and written symbols to represent ideas and feelings
Involve psychomotor skills
Depend on similar cognitive abilities
Involve expressive arts
“As early as age three or four years, children
can recite poetry, memorize, invent, and
perform finger plays, and begin rhyming
words. These are some of the fundamental
tools for developing language skills.”
- Goals 2000 Task Force Report
Children with language-related delays and children who are second-language learners especially benefit from having their experiences and understandings communicated through art, a nonverbal form of expression that is readily available to them.
- Sounda, Guha & Qiu, 2007
“Music… excites inherent brain patterns and
promotes their use in complex reasoning
- Black, 1997
Facilitates awareness and
discrimination of sounds
Enhances visual-motor skills
Enhances memory systems
- Eric Jensen, Arts With the Brain in Mind
Children… benefit from play-based instruction in which
they invent dramatic play scenarios. Sociodramatic play
increases oral language use and enables children to plan,
negotiate, compose, and carry out the “script” of their
play. These skills are related to the development of
- Snow et.al. (1998) Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children
Expression of feelings
Communication of ideas
Understanding of others
Enough timeto express themselves
Respect for their work and their efforts
Interestso the child wants to continue
Supportfor a wide range of expression
markers, chalk (wet/dry), photography,
sculpture, construction, fabric, paper, wood
Are ALL children able to experiment freely with art and explore what happens?
Will each child’s work look different from the others?
Is the goal of the activity the children’s enjoyment rather than a product to please adults?
Will the child’s effort lead to something that is satisfying to the child at his or her level of development?
Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development
Report on Learning, Arts, and the Brain: http://www.dana.org/uploadedFiles/News_and_Publications/Special_Publications/Learning,%20Arts%20and%20the%20Brain_ArtsAndCognition_Compl.pdf