Choice based art education is about honoring the student's artistic choices- the students choose the subject matter, approach, materials, and style that will help them communicate their ideas. For this to work at the primary level, you have to get comfortable with the stages of artistic development and be ok with kids working at their stage. A lot of the Kinders (and even a few first graders) are still in the Pre-Schematic stage.
The snowman drawing on the left was made by a Pre-K student that comes to specials with a Kindergarten class. He ALWAYS has a story about his drawings. :) Students at this age are not usually going for realism. They are more interested in drawing expressively and using schema- showing the world as they understand it. As students learn and experience more, their schema sort of updates. I use questioning a lot when talking to students about their drawings- Does your person have hair? How many fingers do you have? Where is your person/animal/house/etc.? Did you know the sky comes all the way down to the ground in real life?
Some students are more concerned with putting things in space and have learned about horizon lines. Some students aren't ready to organize their artwork in this way. I went through photos of a semester's worth of artwork and just tried to choose a representative sample for this blog post. I saw a lot of growth in just a few months and can see that students were trying out some of the things we've talked about- like coloring in all the white spaces, drawing big, adding details, etc.
This student likes to stick to a limited color palette in most of his work. It's always interesting to see what he chooses.
Even though students are making the artistic choices, we can still encourage good craftsmanship at every age level, even Kindergarten. We try not to scribble. Students are working on doing their best work and being neat so that it's easier for the viewer to understand their idea. The focus on craftsmanship, and the desire to not blow through all my paper, is why we have a "rule" of working on projects for more than one class period. Most of the time we stick to that rule, but occasionally a student will work super hard and finish something in one class, really having given it their best effort and then I don't make them keep adding more just to fit the rule.
We've had lots of mixed media experimentation. This student painted a horse and the next week wanted to try out pastels for the background. I love those bold colors and strokes!
This drawing was a "free" drawing made in the last class before winter break. The student and I didn't critique this drawing since it was a quick one made in about 10 minutes, but I liked that she went for it and drew directly with marker. It's not colored in perfectly, but the spontaneity works.
This student used one of my "drawing models" (plastic animals from the Dollar Tree) to make this drawing of a lizard. Kindergarteners are so funny. Some will work so hard to observe and draw realistically but then fall back into those "emotional" colors when they finish.
What is the most popular subject for Kinders to draw? Rainbows! I will be posting a collection of rainbow drawings soon.