2012 Research Journal #1

International Art in Early Childhood Research Journal

Kathy Danko-McGhee

University of Toledo, Ohio

Ruslan Slutsky, Ph.D.

The University of Toledo. U.S.A. 


The 4th International Art in Early Childhood Conference was sponsored by The Toledo Museum of Art and The University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio on June 6 – 8, 2011. The theme for the conference was,“Art…Play…Children…Wonderment!!!” and served as a platform for discussion, the exchange of ideas, and learning that could guide the way for the future of early childhood art education.

Internationally acclaimed keynote speakers, researchers, and early childhood art educators shared philosophies, theories and pedagogical strategies. This afforded conference attendees the opportunity to view early childhood art education through new lenses, which served as a launch pad for exploring new ways of teaching art in early childhood.

The conference theme had three components:

1.) Art – The visual arts serve as a vehicle for learning and communication for young children. The affordances of art materials, exposure to works of art, and a nurturing learning environment are all essential in providing quality experiences. But what do quality art experiences look like for young children? What pedagogical strategies work best in providing these experiences?

2.) Play – For young children, there is a seamless connection between play and art experiences. How do we enter into this world without intruding? What have we observed about children while they are engaged in art/play?

3.) Children – In our work with young children, what have we learned from them when we have shared in their art experiences (making art and/or viewing art)? What does an authentic child artist look like? How do they communicate and what do they communicate through their art?

4.) Wonderment – What cherished art moments with children could be shared? What were those unexpected learning opportunities that manifested themselves during an art experience?

Some of these questions have been answered. With articles from Australia, New Zealand and the United States, it is these questions that guided the writings in this issue of the third journal. Observations of children drawing with their peers and engaging in the theatrics of play are presented by Kristine Sunday. Looking through the lens of Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory, Sunday observed that children engaged in generating graphic symbols utilize language to facilitate this process. Sunday provides a rich exemplar of how drawings facilitate and extend the cognitive process. Social interaction with peers was found to be an important ingredient in helping children extend their thinking.

David Bell further emphasizes the importance of conversational learning strategies that enhance the engagement with art. He notes that, “Learning about art through aesthetic engagements and conversations about art works has the potential for enriching learning in comprehensive ways.” He argues that engaging children in in-depth dialogue about works of art can have long lasting effects. This is demonstrated by Jack, who as a young child, learned about a particular sculpture piece at a very young age. When he returned to the piece five years later, Jack was able to demonstrate an aesthetic engagement and remembered many aspects of this particular piece. Bell’s work helps us appreciate how revisiting and rethinking a prior experience has positive implications on children’s learning and construction of knowledge.

Christine Nicholls stresses the importance of how the socio-cultural milieu impacts art-making experiences, even for young children. She examines idiosyncratic traditions of the Australian Aborigines, in particular, the remote Australian Central and Western Desert Kukatja and Warlpiri- speaking communities. In Christine’s observations, while varying slightly from their elders, these young child artists continue to perpetuate a long standing graphic tradition.

Enjoy the articles as you read them. Take time to reflect and consider how the ideas presented in this journal may impact your pedagogical practice in your own teaching/learning encounters with young children.

Kathy Danko-McGhee, Ph.D.
The Toledo Museum of Art. U.S.A.

Ruslan Slutsky, Ph.D.
The University of Toledo. U.S.A.

Margaret BrooksUniversity of New England, Australia.

Sue Fawson, University of Wolverhampton,UK. 

Janette KellyUniversity of Waikato, New Zealand.

Stacy Pistorova, Terra Community College. U.S.A.

Andri Saava, University of Cyprus, Cyprus

Ruslan Slutsky, University of Toledo. U.S.A. 

Kristine Sunday, Penn State University. U.S.A.

Lisa TerreniUniversity of Wellington, New Zealand.

Betty Wong, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong 

Disclaimer: The views in this journal do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors

Article 1 David Bell

Talking about art with young people: conversational strategies for aesthetic learning in early childhood settings

Article 2

Christine Nicholls 

Understanding and Judging Children’s Artworks by ‘The Standards of a Different Procedure’: Space, Cognition and the Visual Art of 21st Century Warlpiri and Kukatja School Children

Article 3 Kristine Sunday

“I’m going to have to draw it to find out”:children’s drawing performances, knowing, and the formation of egocentric speech

For more information about the International Association of Art in Early Childhood and our teaching resources, please contact us.