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Play and Creativity in Art Teaching


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Table of Contents



Theory, Research, and Purpose

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Theories about Play

1.3 What is Play Art?

1.4 Play is Art

1.5 The Purpose of Playing in the Art Class

1.6 Creative Play

1.7 A General Outline of the Play-Based Class

1.8 Addressing Obstacles to Play and Art

1.9 The Stages of Creative Play


Beginning the Art Lesson: Inspiration and Preparation

2.1 Traditional Art Skills versus Play Skills

2.2 Play as Preparation for Art

2.3 Lessons from Children

2.4 Play and the Search for Creative Ideas

2.5 Embracing the Mess

2.6 Creative Play Themes

2.7 What Play-Based Art Teachers Do


A Classroom Environment for Play and Art

3.1 Classroom Environments for Play

3.2 Lessons from Home Studios

3.3 Children's Room Set Up for Play

3.4 The Doors to Art

3.5 Floors

3.6 Chairs

3.7 Tables

3.8 Playing Beyond the Art Room


Materials for Play and Creativity

4.1 Materials for Play and Creativity: Thinking Beyond Traditional Art Supplies

4.2 The Self-Serve Art Room

4.3 Shopping Sites in the Classroom

4.4 Shopping Sites: The Way Children Search for Materials

4.5 Toy Materials

4.6 Art Tool Materials

4.7 Tech Materials

4.8 Packaging Materials

4.9 Play Materials and Collections

4.10 Lessons from Experience


Movement in Play and Art

5.1 Art and Inspiring Performances

5.2 Art in Movement

5.3 Art and Movement Play

5.4 Action Toys and Movement

5.5 Tech Toys and Movement

5.6 Traditional Tools and Movement

5.7 Playful Bodies

5.8 Dance Performances


Themes of Art Play

6.1 Birthday Play

6.2 Adventure Play

6.3 Store Play

6.4 Building Play

6.5 Playing with Art

6.6 Pretending in an Art Class


Creative Art Teaching

7.1 Best Practices for the Play-Based Art Teacher

7.2 Observing Play

7.3 The Classroom and Beyond

7.4 Just Making Things

7.5 Creative Conversation

7.6 Playing with Adults

7.7 Epilogue

Additional Resources on Play, Creativity, and Art

About the Author

George Szekely is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Art Education, University of Kentucky, USA, and is currently President-Elect of the National Art Education Association for a six-year term beginning May 2015. He was named a National Treasure by the National Art Education Association and presented with the honor of becoming a Distinguished Fellow. For his lifetime contributions to art education, he received the Victor Lowenfeld Prize and the Emanuel Barkan Award.


"George Szekely is simply a master at this topic - unparalleled in the field of art education. Play is a refreshing topic - so important in child developmental theory as described by Vygotsky and Piaget - that such a text could very well promote a dialogue about the destructive qualities of policies that emphasize 'drill and kill.' This book could easily reignite a dialogue in both the field of art education and general education about the value of imagination." R. Barry Shauck, Boston University, USA "George Szekely offers a unique and useful guide to explore connections between play and art making encouraging teachers to get in touch with themselves as artists and apply what they know about play through art as teachers." Rikki Asher, Queens College, City University of New York, USA "Play and Creativity in Art Teaching is all about implementing Picasso's well known statement: 'Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.' Whereas Picasso merely hints at a direction, George Szekely draws us a detailed map we can use to guide young artists to meaningful life-sustaining Art." Frank Asch, children's book author and illustrator "Come sit on the floor with George Szekely-a teacher of teachers, an enthusiastic student of children's art, and a great mentor to all who would keep the joy of play in their lives. This delightful book brings together his best thoughts for parents and teachers to support play, learning, and creativity for their children and students." Katherine Douglas, co-founder of Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) and art teacher for 37 years

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