In my pre-Mommy days I was a special education teacher. I lead a small class of exceptional students, teaching most of them during their entire elementary school careers. Teaching the same children for so long formed quite the strong teacher/student bond. I laughed with those children, shared with those children, cried with those children, and then laughed some more with those children.
One thing we would often laugh over together was my drawing skills.
More appropriately…my lack of drawing skills.
Although I have a crafty side to me, I am not an artist. Seriously. I struggle to make a stick figure that does not look like it was copied directly from the wall of a Kindergarten classroom. Despite my lack of art abilities, I still attempt to create art, especially with my two young children (ages 2 and 4). Fall is an excellent time to teach young minds how to look at something with an artistic eye and attempt to recreate it on paper. The colors in nature are brilliant, the texture of leaves evolving and the landscape is alive.
Recently I took my two children outdoors to examine the changing leaves and choose a few specimens for our art project.
We found a beautiful tree in our neighbor’s yard and spent quite a few minutes staring up at it. We examined the sturdy trunk, talked about the various colors of leaves and studied how the branches each jutted out in their own particular path. Then we selected a vareity of leaves and went inside to get to work.
Each child was given their own piece of sketch paper, some crayons and markers and a leaf to draw. Before anyone put crayon to paper, we again studied our leaves, marveling in their colors and texture.
Then the children got to work.
As to be expected, the two year old’s masterpiece took considerably less time than her older brother’s. She carefully wrapped her toddler fingers around her crayon, drew her leaf and then asked for some Goldfish crackers to munch on. Her brother selected his colors carefully and took his time drawing out his leaf. I caught glimpses of him pausing to re-examine his subject before deciding to add another color or distinguish a seperate vein running through his leaf.
What was I doing while they were drawing?
I was creating my own masterpiece, carefully attempting to draw the leaf in front of me, ignoring my lack of artistic ability and simply attempting to embrace the task at hand. I have found that my children become much more engrossed and independent with their art if I work on a project myself, rather than hovering in the corner waiting to help them.
By the end of our afternoon, the three of us had created several special pictures to display in our home, bringing a bit of the brilliant aspects of fall indoors.
Lynley Baker Phillips is a stay-at-home mommy to two, blogger, former special education teacher, and referee in all major toy disputes. Her writings have been featured in various publications, on Examiner.com, at her blog and (most importantly) on her mother’s refrigerator door. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org