Art can keep your children, tweens, and teens entertained, but, more importantly, art can reduce stress and benefit an adolescent’s emotional development and growth. The Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ) has a robust suite of services to help youths be creative, inspired, and curious while still remaining encouraged in their education pursuits.
“While staying safe at home, incorporating the arts into your child’s routine is important at all stages of development,” said Lynn Mazur, youth services supervisor. “For younger children, doing crafts can help develop the hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills necessary in all aspects of life, beginning with handwriting. For older children, encouraging the exploration of their expressive side through the arts will expand their creative thinking skills, allowing them to think outside the box to find unique, non-traditional solutions to overcome obstacles.”
According to an article from Michigan State University, fine motor skills, cognitive development, math, and language skills are all practiced when creating. SCLSNJ’s expert staff offer advice on how to engage with art through virtual resources, e-books, and more.
Unwind With Art Journaling
Art journaling is one creative option the whole family can utilize to unwind.
“Research from PLA (Public Library Association) and ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) has demonstrated that there are five simple practices parents and caregivers can use to support early literacy: singing, talking, playing, reading, and writing,” said Meredith Hoyer, youth services supervisor. “Parents can combine multiple practices into one daily activity, with the time honored practice of journaling.”
“So how does a pre-literate child keep a journal? In my home, my daughter and I draw in art journals together every night, using our drawings to convey the events of our day,” continued Hoyer. “Using art as a medium for storytelling enables young children to build comprehension, oral language, and fine motor skills, in the years before they are reading and writing independently. Anyone can start an art journal by printing the date at the top of a blank notebook and allowing their creativity to flow.”
SCLSNJ’s digital arts and crafts online training resource, CreativeBug, has thousands of award-winning art and craft video classes taught by recognized design experts and artists. Explore art journaling and more at SCLSNJ.org/CreativeBug.
SCLSNJ’s Virtual Learning Resources
SCLSNJ’s Virtual Learning page offers a curated collection of free resources. The arts, crafts, and how-to section offers live-drawing demonstrations, downloadable projects, craft tutorials, and more.
“During this stay-at-home period, SCLSNJ encourages patrons to explore many of our virtual opportunities to connect, explore, share, and discover safely from home,” said Diane Valentine, youth services supervisor. “In addition to exploring the how-to section through our virtual resources webpage, Library customers can experience walk-throughs of the most famous museums in the world including the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, the Musée d’Orsay, and more in the virtual tours section.”
Tweens and Teens
A study from the National Endowment for the Arts demonstrates that when students participate in arts-rich experiences, they “do better across-the-board academically, and they also become more active and engaged citizens, voting, volunteering, and generally participating at higher rates than their peers.”
“This summer, during our Summer Reading Challenge spanning June 15-August 15, students entering grades 6-12 can earn volunteer credits for contributing art, poetry, and short stories to our Summer QuarenTEEN Zine, an online art and literary blog,” said Christine Jansen, manager of youth services programming and collaborations.”
For more information about the Summer QuarenTEEN Zine visit: SCLSNJ.org/quarenteen-zine.
Explore e-Books at Home
If you’re still not sure what to create, SCLSNJ’s virtual collections offer a wide-range of e-reads.
“Art encourages children to think, create, and present the world around them,” said Laura Frantz, collection development librarian. “Sometimes that world is full of color and flourish; other times it’s just squiggly lines and white space. But it is always original and inspiring like the many children’s books we offer spotlighting great artists throughout the ages.”
- “Brush of the Gods” by Lenore Look and Meilo So
- “Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois” by Amy Novesky
- “Dancing Through the Fields of Color: The Story of Helen Frankenthaler” by Elizabeth Brown
- “Diego Rivera: His World and Ours” by Duncan Tonatiuh
- “Kid Artists: True Tales of Childhood From Creative Legends” by David Stabler
- “Picturing America: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Art“ by Hudson Talbott
- “A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of the Snowy Day” by Andrea Davis Pinkey
- “Roy’s House” by Susan Goldman Rubin
- “Vincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky” by Barb Rosenstock
Explore digital resources: SCLSNJ.org/BeSafeAtHome.