As I sit down to write this blog, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone, including our children, have been cooped up, house bound and are dealing with major cabin fever.
The one outlet my family and I have been tapping into is going outdoors. Nature helps to relieve the nervous energy we all have. We have been taking daily walks around the neighborhood. One phenomenon that I have seen not only in my neighborhood, but also others, is the beautiful sidewalk chalk creations. Children and families have created stunning pictures, inspirational messages, body outlines, and geometric designs. Art is a very therapeutic activity that can help release some of the restlessness our children are feeling. Sidewalk chalk is a great art medium to use outdoors.
As children engage in chalk creations, they are learning creativity, the process of chalk, relaxation, and discovery. All of these concepts are the foundation for healthy social, emotional, and cognitive development.
4 Benefits of Chalk Art:
Chalk art is very open ended. Children can create anything with chalk that their mind can imagine. They visualize themselves in a castle and draw a fire breathing dragon. They may be inspired by the signs of spring and sketch a garden filled with flowers. The newest creation of geometric designs reminds me of beautiful stained glass windows. The children place painters’ tape in random spots on a sidewalk square, color in the segments, and when the tape is removed, voila, a beautiful design appears. The creativity in sidewalk chalk creations I have seen recently are absolutely amazing.
2. The Process:
We often talk about process versus product-oriented art, but what do we mean by “process”. My son recently commented on the fact that he could not finish his chalk creation because his “chalk ran out”. He is eleven, and realizes that it takes a lot of chalk to fill in the square he was working on. However, many young children are figuring out the process of running out of chalk. The process of chalk also includes the size of the chalk shrinking when children color with it, chalk dust being generated, and the fact that some colors show up better than others. Children are learning that when they use tape on the sidewalk and lift off the tape, the area below the tape is void of chalk. We can help young children identify and understand some of these processes with open ended questions such as “where did all this chalk dust come from?” or “why does this section not have chalk on it?”.
As I mentioned above, art can be a very relaxing activity to partake in. I know many adults who love to do the adult coloring books because they say it is very calming. I have seen many children create geometric designs using painters’ tape on the sidewalk. It is almost as if they are creating their own artistic coloring pages. The repetitive motion of filling in each segment of the design can have a very soothing effect for young and old alike.
One thing I love about working with young children is every day they discover something new. Sidewalk chalk allows for an abundance of new discoveries. My son and his friend were quickly trying to finish their sidewalk creations, knowing the rain was coming soon. They understood that the coming of the rain would erase all of their hard work and provide a blank slate for tomorrow. Young children who have not yet discovered this phenomenon of the rain washing away their art may either be enthralled or devastated. Some children may learn that they can “erase” what they don’t want with a little bit of water. One fun activity is to provide paint brushes and water so the children can erase any art work they would like.
If you are feeling the effects of cabin fever, partake in a little art therapy and create some sidewalk art to beautify the neighborhood.
If you’re outdoor learning area doesn’t have a concrete area available for chalk art, check out The Adventurous Child Outdoor Chalk Board.
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