A Heart for the Arts

It’s no secret that the arts have a drastic impact on children and teens’ development. The power of the arts is not only limited to mental development, but it allows for the exploration of new ideas, emotional expression and cultural appreciation. The arts, like many programs here at the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, are key elements of healthy mind, body and spirit.

From the music played to the dance-inspired fitness routines in our group exercise classes, the Y has plenty of ways to celebrate the arts during National Arts and Humanities Month. Perhaps the best example of how the arts are incorporated into our youth development programs is through arts and crafts. Not only are students encouraged to express themselves through drawing and writing, but art is built into the curriculum at every age.

At the Child Development Center, children in the 4-5 Year Old classroom spent time each Friday learning about different artists throughout the past and present. This month, the artist was Richard Shilling, a British photographer and environmental artist. Students first discussed landscape and environment art, learning about how Shilling works with nature such as rocks, leaves, grass, twigs and more. Next, the children were able to put their skills to the test doing their own landscape-inspired art project. They arranged rocks in the shape of their first initial, practicing fine motor skills while also flexing their creativity, all in celebration of the arts that surround us.

Seasons and holidays also allow for fun arts and crafts. Seeing an opportunity with pumpkins being such a popular piece of fall décor, the Before and After School Care program worked their magic to create fun activity for school-aged children. After a teacher rolled two die, students raced to quickly add the numbers up in their head and then raised their hand, hoping to be the first to share the total correctly. Teachers would then call out a specific instruction from a numbered list that corresponded with the number they had rolled. Students got to draw eyes, ears, mouths and stems on their pumpkins, bring to life their own Jack-o-lantern. To keep the creativity flowing, students were also instructed to give their pumpkins a scarf and color it in however they chose. In the end, each child took home a unique piece of Halloween-inspired artwork.

Whether it’s centered on developing skills and touching on history or simply just celebrating an upcoming holiday with a fun twist, the Y is dedicated to incorporating art into our curriculum. We believe that true development is best achieved when a child’s mind, body and spirit are in play. Together, we celebrate the power of the arts to bring our world together and improve our lives.


Written by Laura Wolf, [email protected]

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