Emily Gopaul and Chelsey Marashian: Two Sides of The Same Coin
While the internet makes it easy to find artists and artworks that link to different topics, overworked teachers and distraught parents don't always have the know-how or the time to do it. As an artist interested in figuring out truly effective ways to incorporate art in early childhood development and mom to two grade school children with a wide range of interests I am always on the lookout for opportunities to familiarize children with great works of art as well as get them excited about creating their own masterpieces in order to reach educational and developmental milestones. Emily Gopaul of The Primary Art Class offers some great examples on how to visually explore a variety of school subjects, including science and math lessons, by referencing artworks. She is adamant in trusting teachers to facilitate their students'critical thinking by asking open and closed questions, and giving them sentence starters as a way to talk about art. For example, “I like the way the artist has ... ” or “In this artwork I can see ... ”. Strictly speaking, Mom's Choice Award picture book winner Here Comes Ingo is not a Great Work of Art and as such should not necessarily be discussed alongside The Primary Art Class arsenal of pedagogical tools but I consider this unique picture book to be a sort of performance art meant to break down the wall between the expert storyteller and the young readers by getting them directly involved much to the tune of E. Gopaul who encourages a well-rounded art experience via a balanced mixture of instructional and hands on "bite-size classes" ensuring that the children are learning an artistic skill or technique and have the chance to express their own ideas. Attuned to this point of view, Here Comes Ingo encourages children to put their thinking hats on and figure out what the characters on each page are thinking, feeling and doing thus gaining valuable skills such as communication, visual observation, predicting, inferring as well as critical thinking and confidence. Most uniquely, this book also familiarizes readers with fairly sophisticated art concepts such as fine art collage and photomontage and invites them to immerse themselves into Ingo’s dream world by adding their own ideas and expanding the story via drawing, coloring and painting directly ON the page. It is exactly this philosophy of self-directed agency in persuing the book that draws a parallel between Here Comes Ingo and Buggy and Buddy, an addictive website chock full with activities inspired by children's books in alphabetical order by book title as well as many other fun explorations into creative avenues. Chelsey Marashian, the owner and writer of Buggy and Buddy, is a strong beliver in following a child's lead. She advocates sitting back and watching children play and experiment as a way to discover more about their interests although parents and teachers are always welcomed to work together with their children while also giving them enough independence to discover on their own.
- Emily Gopaul is the author of Teaching Primary Art and Design, published by Bloomsbury. She has over 10 years of classroom experience and has held Leader of Art roles in both primary and secondary schools in the state and private sector. She has a fine Art degree and maintains a passionate interest in the arts, and education.
- Chelsey Marashian is the owner and writer of Buggy and Buddy, a website dedicated to inspire creativity and self-confidence in children while promoting learning and fun. Buggy and Buddy focuses on arts and crafts, science, literacy, math, and children's literature.
- Here Comes Ingo is a uniquely interactive picture book created by Odeta Xheka, a Brooklyn artist and busy mom in a quest to connect people with art in truly meaningful and enriching ways starting from early childhood. You can find her work at Odeta Xheka Visuals.