Art for all Children: Authentic Inclusive Art Experiences

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Children’s art fascinates adults. Parents are proud of their children’s work, and teachers want to promote and facilitate children’s art growth and creativity, but often need reminding of the developmental benefits of the process over product, and what constitutes authentic creative art experiences. Children with special needs are sometimes left out of this process, as they bring home teacher or para-made art projects that have little to do with their own ideas, choices, skills or effort. ALL children have the right to authentic art experiences, whatever their ability level or challenges may be. Children have the right to make their own mark, in their own way, using their own ideas, with accessible tools/equipment. In addition to offering researched based methods to explore children’s creativity, this article will link the developmental stages of artistic and creative growth with MANY ideas for authentically creative inclusive art experiences for ALL young children. Specific adaptations / modifications for children with special needs, suggestions for feedback, art appreciation and developmental benefits are discussed.


Keywords: Inclusion, Adaptations/Modifications, Inclusive Art Experiences and Settings Children’s Authentic Art Experiences Process Over Product, Creativity and Brain Development Developmental Benefits of Art, Feedback on Children’s Art, Art Appreciation for Children, Art Growth Process
Stream: Art and Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , Art for ALL Children


Dr. Carol Russell

Associate Professor, Department of Early Childhood/Elementary Teacher Education, Emporia State University
Kankas, USA

Dr. Carol L. Russell has been in the field of early childhood for over 30 years, and in early childhood/elementary teacher preparation for over 25 years. She is an Associate Professor at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. Prior to that she was at South Dakota State University for 15 years. She earned her B.A is in Art & Psychology from Baker University in Baldwin, KS, and an M.S is in Child Development & Family Relations from University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Her doctorate is in Special Education from the University of South Dakota. Specialty areas include: artistic creativity, inclusion, inclusive creative movement, children with special needs and their families, sibling issues of children with special needs, ADA and accessibility, curriculum, adaptations / modifications, public policy, and advocacy. Dr. Russell resides in her country home in Emporia, KS, with her husband Fletch Russell, M.F.A and sculptor; and daughter, Tally. Her two older daughters, Cassie and Mikelle live nearby in town. Tally loves art, and being born with spina bifida, requires several accommodations for full participation. Time is also spent taking care of her 91-year-old mother, Gladys, who lives in a next-door addition built two years ago. After having three strokes, Russell’s mother receives art therapy, also using several accommodations suggested for children in Russell’s presentation. These life experiences, blended with Russell’s academic training and focus on inclusion result in a passion for sharing information about truly including ALL in art experiences.

Ref: A07P0117