Expressive Arts and Design works well for children of all types but it is difficult for some children to access certain parts of it. Not all children can draw, not everyone enjoys exploring sound or texture, many children don’t like to dance or perform for others. Philosophy for Children could be used to encourage these areas in smaller groups if the question and methods are chosen carefully. As a lot of art (physical, musical and movement) is dependent on either interpretation or feeling, philosophy for children offers a new way to tap into these skills and abilities in a more structured way which may offer the predictability and security that creates a safe environment for less confident children to express themselves. Here are a few possible philosophical leads.
Exploring and Using Media and Materials Early Learning Goals
1. Children sing songs, make music and dance, and
experiment with ways of changing them.
2. They safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and
What makes a good song?
How does this song make you feel?
What does that song make you think of?
Would the world feel the same if there was no music?
What is music? Does this count as music? Why? Why not?
What is art?
Do you like this painting?
Is this art? (look at examples of ephemeral art)
Which textures do you like/hate? Why?
Being Imaginative Early Learning Goals
1. Children use what they have learnt about media and materials in original ways, thinking about uses and purposes.
2. They represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role play and stories.
How many ways could we use this? (box/ bottle/stick)
Can you represent ‘sad’ using dance/ colour/instruments/movement?
In role play get involved and add new situations and challenges.
This is a nice one to end on and, much like metaphysics and ethics, one which sits nicely in the Early Years. Philosophy of aesthetics is all about the arts. It dances through Literacy, Expressive Arts and Design and Physical Development.
It revels in the beauty of life, both the natural world and the man made one. It is all about the creation and appreciation of beauty in all it’s forms and is multisensory. It is equally at home outdoors as you cloud watch, pick up and appreciate autumn leaves, watch a ladybird, wonder at a spider’s web or decide which your favourite flower is; as it is indoors as you listen to music from some of the greatest composers, explore which sort of beat or dance brings you the greatest happiness or most calm and squish your fingers through every texture a typical pre-school messy area has to offer.
Here are some ways to introduce the philosophy of aesthetics to your classroom.
· Look at three famous paintings. Which do you like best and why?
· Listen to different pieces of music. How do they make you feel?
· How and why does music make us feel things?
· Do you like to listen to music with your eyes closed or open?
· What is beauty? It natural beauty or man made beauty the best?
· What is the point of ephemeral art?
· Are sculptures better than paintings because you can feel them?
· Is a painting done by a famous painter more important than a painting done by someone in our class?
· Can maths be beautiful?
Miss Magical Mess is a pre-school teacher and P4C Level 2B facilitator. After a shaky start as a P4C facilitator (P4C with 3 year olds... are you kidding?) Miss Magical Mess created her own approach to P4C and enquiry model and is now a big fan.