The elementary school classroom should offer opportunity for a wide and varied creative experience for every child who enters it. One of the greatest human satisfactions is that of creating something. The child's creation will be child-like, lacking the finish of the adult, but it will be a success if it has been a gratification to him as the creator. It is this emotion that is more valuable than any finished product. Children are not primarily aiming to produce things; they are creating, or giving expression to their own individual feelings.
In all craft work involving materials there are certain opportunities for originality and there are certain phases where the creation is limited by the nature of the material. The child must be guided by these facts in his construction. He should create his own design and have the right to make his work as nearly the size and shape required for his particular needs as the material will permit. As often as possible every child should have the opportunity to choose the material with which he wishes to work, as some are more talented in the use of certain materials. It is, however, advisable for all children to have some experience with all materials to discover possible talent which may otherwise remain latent because of a fear or dislike for trying something new.
These problems are not presented as new and astonishing feats in craft work, they are intended to start children and teachers to thinking about the use of old materials they have not considered before and encourage them in the creation with their own hands, of other and more beautiful articles from these materials.
Thru acquaintance with and participation in the creation of beautiful things children come to a greater appreciation of beauty (choosing the beautiful and leaving the ugly). After all, this appreciation is a thing vitally needed by everyone in order to conduct his daily affairs efficiently and live a full and rich life. Creating is a joyful process and should give happiness to every child. If you miss the joy you miss all.
Every craft experience besides being joyful and creative should have a definite relationship to the child's immediate life and needs. Learning to do something to use in a far and distant future is a rather futile pastime. The problem should be one of today, and if the child can cope with it he will be able to meet adult problems when they come. The projects offered here are not arbitrary ones to be thrust upon the children; but are intended as suggestions which at some time in the school program will enrich and make more meaningful the natural experiences, no matter what type the program may be.
Originality is a most important consideration in craft work. Beautiful materials, fine workmanship and usefulness will give a certain character and beauty; but unless the child has somewhere in the process had an opportunity to make his own choices of materials, colors or design the educational value is almost negligible. A child should never trace, for use on a piece of his own handwork, a design created by some one else, even though it seem more attractive than his own. Any child with but little encouragement and guidance from the teacher, is able to create a design suitable for any hand work he can execute. He can plan, and with white chalk, on wrapping paper he can draw, and by rubbing with his hands, erase his mistakes and thereby really create a design of his own. The teacher should never help in the drawing of the design. Every individual, child included, has ideas of his own and only a few suggestions from other people's work and from the teacher are needed to bring new creations to light on the paper.
If designs are made with pencil, the attention is focused on the detail and the unity of the whole is lost, chalk makes for bold, unified harmony in a design. The work may be re- fined by using a pencil after the original sketching has been made in chalk. Straight lines may be made true by the use of a ruler, circles become true circles thru the use of a paper compass made from a piece of paper, a pin and a pencil.
The designs to be found here are not to be copied by the children. They are offered only as suggestions to be used, as is all illustrative material, for inspiration and help in assembling new ideas.
Children should be allowed to express their own feelings about color. Refinement of color taste can however, be developed and comes after attention to and living with harmonious color arrangements and after planning and executing color harmonies.
To let the child express his color feeling even though it may be crude, and lead him gradually to a finer feeling is the important work of the school.
Color has three aspects: hue, value and intensity. Hue is the color itself-red, yellow, green. Value is the light or dark of a hue-light green, dark green. Intensity is the brightness of a hue-dull yellow, bright yellow.
Twelve colors with their variations in value and intensity placed on a wheel as shown on page 19 will help in the making of color harmonies. Hues on the left side of the wheel are cool colors, those on the right are warm. There are many, many ways to combine these colors to make harmonies, the following three are suggestive:
1. Colors lying next to each other on the wheel are analogous or may be called neighboring colors.
They are closely related and when used together make a retiring color harmony. Example: yellow, yellow-orange, orange, and red-orange.
2. Colors lying directly across the wheel from each other are complementary colors. These are opposites and therefore make a definite contrast when used together. If used in equal amounts, in the normal hue, they are apt to clash. To make a color harmony with complementary colors one color should be dull or grayed and used with only a small amount of the opposite color. Example: gray-purple and a touch of yellow.
3. Refined and pleasing color harmonies can be made by the use of a single hue in several values. Example: light purple, purple and dark purple. Sometimes a touch of a contrasting or opposite color may be introduced into this harmony.