“My experience has taught me that every child has a natural artist within.” – Learning About the World Through Modeling, Arthur Auer
Ideas for An Introduction, Verses, Modeling by Age, and More
Do make modeling materials available to your child. Arthur Auer states in his book that most children these days are not doing enough modeling at home or in the classroom. I taught Sunday School Kindergarten several years ago and I found that to be very true. The kindergarteners did not seem to have any idea what to do when presented with a lump of homemade salt dough, and had to be taught how to pinch off pieces and make balls and little “snakes”. So, most importantly, have modeling materials and experiences for both your Early Years and grades children available.
An introduction to beeswax modeling materials for the small child for the very first time could include a beautiful story. My friend Cypress has a story that she wrote for this purpose and shared on her blog here. There is also a story in the book “Learning About the World Through Modeling” by Arthur Auer, so you can check there. That is a wonderful resource for modeling with both beeswax and clay throughout the grades. For modeling heads in eighth grade I have liked the book, Modeling the Head in Clay by Lucchesi.
There are a few verses to use as you are getting out your beeswax modeling materials found in different publications, including one in “A Child’s Seasonal Treasury” and “Learning About the World Through Modeling”. You can also check my Beeswax and Clay Modeling Pinterest Board that has two verses for the Early Years one younger grades verse. For older grades, modeling is tied in with lessons, but one could also use any number of beautiful bee poems.
Other free inspiration for the Early Years includes this free sample lesson from Live Education http://www.live-ed.com/Waldorf/PROD/k_living-kindergarten-introduction
When working with children, we need to know when to work with a more “construction” approach to modeling materials (ie, sticking things on) versus trying to make a figure or something arise out of the whole.
Modeling In the Early Years Through Grade Eight
For ideas regarding small children under the age of seven and beeswax modeling, please go back to Part Two of this series for ideas. Other ideas include making a simple ball, flat figures that can be stuck onto a window. Children love to see adults making art, so your own example and time set aside for adult modeling is most important. Concavity is a concept that often comes in most distinctly after the nine year change, so looking at this feature as predominant in an early year child’s creations may be telling.
In grades one through three, it is helpful if the teacher or parent works on the “whole piece” idea of artistic modeling mentioned above – bringing something out of the unity of the piece of modeling material. Letter and number symbols should be formed in beeswax as well as other creations. The exploration of fundamental shapes in modeling – convex, concave, flat, elongated, etc are important to explore before the child attempts to copy things the teacher or parent is doing. As eight to ten year olds gain strength in their hands, they have more dexterity in working with beeswax, but it is important to make sure the children spend enough time warming the beeswax in their hands before attempting to model with it. Clay can be used in increasingly larger amounts for main lesson work in homeschooling after age nine as children are more grounded on the earth. Children ages nine and up tend to model with more concave forms than before.
The grades of four through six are VERY important. These are years when adults really need to be encouraging. Children in these grades can be very self-conscious and aware that they don’t do some things as well as other things (this is true I find in physical activity skills as well) and will shut down if they don’t think they can model well. They want their pieces to look more “real”. To do this requires a big leap in fine-motor skills and artistic perception. It is also important to talk about how modeling is not about such scientific accuracy in these grades, and to help the child set realistic expectations and model that for the child in a specific way. Modeling takes on a much more formal role in these grades. Animal forms are important in fourth and fifth grade.
The twelve year change is important. Arthur Auer writes on page 140 of his wonderful book, “Modeling harmonious and interesting forms can help them (twelve year olds) balance and readjust to the new mechanics of their elongating limbs. They can appreciate anew the infinite possibilities of movement and form of their hands.”
For ages thirteen and up, we provide experiences in carving wood and soapstone and clay. Working with heavy material is important. We explore through these substances the things we are studying in the curriculum.
For the Artist Within You
Every adult has an artist inside them. Arthur Auer has wonderful exercises for the adult in terms of looking at your hands, modeling archetypal forms, archetypal animal gestures, and more.
Last But Not Least
Please don’t forget that opportunities for modeling exist all around us. For small children, the sandbox and snow are wonderful opportunities. Bread dough on baking day is another opportunity. Playing with rich clay (frequently found down here in the Deep South) is another whole body experience. Making salt dough together is a wonderful activity. So, please slow down, and really savor these experiences and wonder with your child.