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Mila Sticks With Art

About this video

In the process of creating art, children may apply or gain knowledge and skills in several domains. This video shows Mila, a 5-year-old preschooler, fully engaged in an art activity of her own design. As she works, she meets early learning and development benchmarks in five learning areas: language arts, mathematics, physical development and health, the arts, and social/emotional development.

Mila attends a prekindergarten program that schedules blocks of time for children’s self-directed activities in addition to specific times for literacy, project work, outdoor play, and music and movement. During the “choice times,” children can select and engage in a range of activities. This video was taken late in the school year. Mila and her classmates have had many months to become familiar with the classroom routines and materials, their teachers, and each other. The video shows Mila creating an “outline” or frame of construction paper strips around a piece of drawing paper, then drawing inside the frame.

First, Mila applies glue to one end of a red paper strip with a glue stick. She folds one end of the strip over the edge of the paper, pinching and pressing it. She sets the paper down and presses on it with her fingers. She moves her paper so it is not covered by a pile of papers. She picks up the glue stick lid that is on her paper and sets it on the pile of papers next to her. It rolls off; she glances at it but does not retrieve it.

Mila grips the glue stick with both hands, pressing down very hard on the edge of the paper farthest from her and pulling the glue stick toward her. It slips off the paper and the table. She adjusts the paper and uses the glue stick with one hand. It slips off the edge of the table. She readjusts the paper and applies the glue with less pressure.

She picks up a red paper strip, places it carefully on the glue line, and presses it. The strip is not as long as the drawing paper, and a gap of several inches remains. She glues down a purple strip in the gap, which extends several inches off the drawing paper. She marks the strip with a pencil and cuts it with scissors so it aligns with the edge of the paper. She presses the strip with her fingers. She checks the length of the remaining purple strip against the edge of the paper. She puts it aside, locates a red strip, and seems to compare its length with the paper. She makes another glue line, again using just one hand to move the glue stick. She places the red strip on the glue line and presses on it.

With a pencil, she marks each end of the red strip where it extends beyond the paper. She picks up a pair of scissors, flips them over to fit her hand, and cuts along the lines so that the strip fits on the paper. She picks up the paper at both ends, notices the cap to the glue stick is on it, and tilts the paper so it slides off. She looks at her paper as the video ends.

Throughout this activity, Mila coordinates a number of arm and hand movements: cutting with scissors, gluing with a glue stick, putting the lid on a glue stick, removing unwanted strips of paper, and drawing with a pencil. She initiates conversation with and responds to questions from a visitor, explaining what she has done and identifying a problem that she will solve (that is, she wants to use only strips of her favorite color). She classifies and uses paper strips according to their color. She shows geometric thinking by matching the strips to the edges of the drawing paper to make a frame.

Mila addresses some challenges as she works. She moves her paper so it is not covered by a pile of art supplies. After the glue stick slips off the paper twice when she presses hard on it, she changes the position of the paper and the amount of pressure she applies. When she finds that some of the strips are too long to fit along the short edges of the drawing paper, she folds or trims them to the correct length. When she decides to “edit” her creation; she carefully removes purple strips to replace them with red without ruining the drawing paper.

Mila remains deeply involved in this activity for well over 5 minutes despite several potential distractions around her. She has two brief conversations with a visitor (the videographer), and other things occasionally catch her attention, but each time she quickly returns to the task she has set for herself.



Note: There is no dialog until about 3 minutes, 10 seconds into the video.

Mila: (Looks up at the camera.) Look. I did the whole outline.

Adult: I’m sorry, say it again. What did you tell me about it?

Mila: I did (moves her hand around the edge of the paper) this all around . . . here (unintelligible).

She touches some exposed glue, then works her fingers to remove some of the stickiness. She looks at what she has made. She begins to tap her fingers at the edge of the table as she looks at the paper.

She peels a purple strip off the paper.

Adult: Did you decide to change it?

Mila: Yeah. I just need to take off the purple.

Adult: Are you wanting it to be only red?

Mila: Yeah (removing the other purple strip). Red is my favorite color, really.

Adult: Oh.

She picks up a red strip, compares it with the space where the longer purple strip was, sets it down, and applies glue.

She cuts a short red strip to fit a gap. She applies glue to the drawing paper and then removes a small glob of it from her work area. She applies the last red strip, picks up a pencil, shakes her head, looks at the camera, and begins to draw.

She starts at the bottom of the paper, drawing a vertical line. The figure she draws consists of two vertical lines of equal length, with some elaborate marks at the top.

Benchmarks and How They Were Met

BenchmarksHow They Were Met
Language Arts
1.A.ECb: Respond appropriately to questions from others.
Mila repeated an answer when the visitor asked her to. She responded appropriately when the visitor asked if she decided to change what she made.
Language Arts
1.A.ECc: Provide comments relevant to the context.
Mila initiated conversation with the visitor about her activity. She explained why she replaced the purple strips with red ones.
7.A.ECa: Compare, order, and describe objects according to a single attribute.
Mila looked through the scraps on her left to find red or purple strips. Ultimately, (as she explained) she rejected purple strips in favor of red.
7.B.ECa: Practice estimating in everyday play and everyday measurement problems.
Mila held a paper strip to one edge of the paper and seemed to compare the lengths. She solved measurement problems in two ways: by folding one end of a strip over the edge of the paper so the lengths match, and by cutting the ends of a strip so it was the right length.
8.A.ECa: Sort, order, compare, and describe objects according to characteristics or attribute(s).
Mila chose paper strips of specific colors for her frame.
9.A.ECd: Combine two-dimensional shapes to create new shapes.
Mila used paper strips to make four connecting lines that formed a border around the drawing paper.
Physical Development and Health
19.A.ECd: Use eye-hand coordination to perform tasks.
Mila paid attention to the lengths of the colored strips relative to the sides of the drawing paper, placing the colored paper strips on the paper, comparing them, folding or cutting strips that were too long, and gluing the strips down, leaving a large open space. She kept her eyes focused on her paper as she drew.
Physical Development and Health
19.A.ECe: Use writing and drawing tools with some control.
Mila used a pencil to draw a figure.
The Arts
25.A.ECd: Visual Arts: Investigate and participate in activities using visual arts materials.
Mila used scissors, glue, paper, and pencil to create a picture with a border around it.
The Arts
26.B.ECa: Use creative arts as an avenue for self-expression.
Mila’s completed frame expressed her preference for the color red. Her drawing depicted something she has imagined or remembered.
Social/emotional Development
30.A.ECe: Use materials with purpose, safety, and respect.
Although she allowed the glue stick lid to fall on the floor at first, she later placed the lid back on the glue. She kept the materials on the table.
Social/emotional Development
30.C.ECb: Demonstrate persistence and creativity in seeking solutions to problems.
Mila improvised solutions to the problem of having colored strips that were shorter or longer than the sides of the drawing paper. Mila did not give up when she realized that she did not want to use purple strips; she removed them and replaced them with red.
Social/emotional Development
30.C.ECc: Show some initiative, self-direction, and independence in actions.
Mila chose this activity without direction from an adult. She was able to do all related tasks without help.
Social/emotional Development
30.C.ECd: Demonstrate engagement and sustained attention in activities.
Mila stayed with this activity for a prolonged period of time, seeing it through to completion without being directed to do so.

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Teachers / Service providers

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2017