As an art teacher, I have never been a big fan of stencils. I have seen students become quite dependent upon them and resistant to draw freehand. As an early childhood educator, I love stencils for developing fine motor skills. Children love the experience of filling in the positive space that reveals the image. Stencils are also very useful for exploring spatial relationships.
Hearthsong offers a wonderful alternative to plastic stencils with their Horse and Pony Wooden Stencil Kit
. This kit comes with 20 stencils, colored pencils, and a sturdy wooden box to keep them neatly organized. The stencils can be combined in unique ways to place riders on the horses, fences and corrals, etc. One stencil confused my daughter and I. She thought it was a man with a rifle, but I told her that Hearthsong would not include such a thing in their Horse and Pony Wooden Stencil Kit
. It turns out the stencil is a wheelbarrow, but when it is held upside down, it does look like the violent image she saw.
Here are my daughter’s words for her first creation using her Horse and Pony Wooden Stencil Kit
“What’s happening is the horse is diving for the apples that are falling, and one of the farmers is riding a horse, and the other farmer is picking apples and throwing them into the wheelbarrow.”
Note: When taking dictation from young children, it is important to write their words exactly as they say them and not to correct grammar, run on sentences, etc. Children need to learn the connection between spoken words and writing first. There will be plenty of time for grammar later on. Also, writing and letters are symbolic, as is drawing. There is a natural progression in young children from drawing to writing, so it is good practice to write children’s words about their artwork and encourage them to write their own artist statements, even when they are only making letterlike forms.