Use Your Senses

In our continuing celebration of Art Beyond Sight Awareness month, this past week we welcomed artist John Bramblitt as a guest teacher for our Arturo’s Art & Me class for 3-5 year olds and their grown-ups. Right away, the kids noticed that something was different. Three year-old Ruthie asked me, “why is there a puppy in the museum?” when she saw John’s guide dog, Echo. This led to a conversation with the children about how John cannot use his sense of sight, but is able to use his other senses in his everyday life and in his art process.

Touching "snow" during the sensory art game

In the galleries, we focused on experiencing art with all of our senses. We looked at three different landscapes in the American art galleries, and the children described what they saw to John. We then played a sensory matching game, giving the children things to touch, smell, and hear and asking them if any of these sensory experiences reminded them of details in the paintings. We touched “snow,” listened to bird calls, and smelled the scent of grass (although one group of children was convinced that they were smelling baby wipes!). With each sensory mystery, the kids looked closer and closer at the works of art, noticing details that might have gone unnoticed if we had simply asked “what do you see?”

A fun project to test your senses--blindfold painting

Although we had the advantage of having a very gifted and approachable artist with us to help the children think about experiencing art with more than their eyes, you too can encourage your child to explore her world with all of her senses. Young children are especially good at this since they have just graduated from a phase of putting everything in their mouths, so you’ll have a ready and willing audience!

Try some of these activities:

  • Do a daily routine without the use of one of your senses. Eat breakfast blindfolded, wear headphones while playing, or try to taste something with your nose plugged. How is the experience different?
  • Have a dance party and listen to different styles of music. Observe how your child moves differently to varying beats, tempos and volumes.
  • Mix up your senses as you create art together. Ask your child what she imagines blue tastes like or green sounds like.
  • Make up a taste test. Blindfold your child and give him a variety of foods to taste. What words can he use to describe the food? Introduce vocabulary such as salty, sweet, tangy, bitter, spicy.
  • Ask your child to look at a favorite picture or work of art and make up a story for you. Ask for details such as sound effects, tastes, and textures where appropriate.
  • With your child, gather odds and ends from around your home with different textures and create a texture collage. Talk about the textures together and see how many words you can come up with to describe what you feel.

A young artist shares his work with John Bramblitt

The more practice you have with using your senses as a means of exploration at home, the more natural it will feel when you try to use your senses at an art museum. The thing I loved most about our classes with John last week was how excited the kids were to “show” their work to John at the end of class and share with him what they had created. John’s inability to see was quite literally overlooked, and instead the children formed an instant bond with him, artist to artist.

Posted by: Leah



Filed under Children’s art, DMA Programs, PreK

2 responses to “Use Your Senses

  1. i love to visit art galleries both home and abroad, art has been my life”:-

  2. It was extremely interesting for me to read this blog. Thanx for it. I like such topics and anything connected to them. I definitely want to read more soon.

    Anete Hakkinen
    escort modell schweiz

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