"Art" & "Craft"
How they are alike and how they differ
by MaryAnn Kohl
on the Teachers.Net First Grade Mailinghttp://teachers.net/mailrings
Every now and then I like to talk about "art" and "craft," how they are different, and how they are alike.
They do of course cross over at times. Would you like a visual? If you had two hula hoops and let the hoops cross over each other a few inches, there would be a big circle on the left, a little pointed oblong in the middle, and another big circle on the right [a Venn Diagram]. Art is the left circle, craft is the right circle, and the combining of both is the small pointed oblong in the center.
For the most part, art is creative and free with some directions or techniques to guide the experience, the process is heavily valued, and in time, the finished product for older children becomes important. For younger children, the exploration and discovery is foremost and the finished product may not even exist.
Crafts involve following directions and often copying a sample, and finished products may vary in appearance or be quite alike.
Crafts often have uses or go with some other learning in the classroom. A creative program in school should consist heavily of ART, and should allow for CRAFT to go along with social studies, literacy, math, science, and so on.
Art is creative and highly individual and unique; craft is more following directions. Both have value. Both involve the right brain. A program with only art or only craft is not complete.
Keep in mind that children need the opportunity for ART, where they create and explore, testing their own abilities and imaginations. There is no right or wrong in creative art - but there will be repetition and remaking and tweaking & manipulating materials to various outcomes and experiences, all unique to that child.
With CRAFTS, kids are often making useful items or projects sometimes called "cutsies," making things that other kids are making too, even if they don't all look the same when done.
Be sure to have a little of both. (Crafts mostly make parents happy, Art mostly makes kids happy.) There are times when the project is a combination of art and craft, like when everyone is painting apples on white paper, but the materials supplied vary and the results vary too.
Here's an example of art and craft using the same material -- cotton balls -- as the main material:
Craft - Cotton Ball Bunny
Cover a cardboard bunny shape with cotton balls and glue. Then add construction paper pink ears. Glue on 2 buttons for eyes.
Product: a fuzzy cotton ball bunny. Though no two will look exactly alike, and some may even have unique additions like ribbon or paint, they are all bunnies using the same basic directions and materials. The expectation is to make a bunny.
Art - Cotton Ball Gluing
Provide cotton balls, glue, buttons, cardboard or other materials on hand. Child combines his choice of materials. Might make a bunny, a collage, or something no one thought of before. The expectation is to create using specific materials, with no planned outcome.
I personally enjoy working with both art and craft with children of all ages, but I am sure that the kids know the difference. Most importantly, I like parents to know the difference and to expect to see both types of activities, and to value both for exactly what they are. Be clear when doing things with kids and especially when talking to parents about when you use the word "craft" and when you use the word "art." If they don't understand the difference, you can SHOW them with examples their children have done.
Either way, it's all fun!!!!
MaryAnn Kohl is the author of many books about art for children, including
Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters
Browse through the Arts & Crafts Chatboard
"We get the best kids these parents have...they don't leave the good ones at home."
from the Second Grade Mailring
On the second grade mailring someone posted:
My old superintendent use to say..."We get the best kids these parents have...they don't leave the good ones at home."
Another reader followed up with this:
I have no problem with the whole idea that the kids come to us and that we are to accept them the way they are and where they are. I have problems with politicians who don't know the kids at all and THEY tell us that the students will all be carbon copies of each other with certain scores on a test.
My student who had no language other than "yes/no" when he started Kdgn. is NOT going to make those test scores, BUT he is moving forward in many, many ways.I accept him where he is and I take joy in helping him to grow incmany ways. I have a problem that he is identified as a failing student by the state and federal government because he can't meet that special score for a second grade student. This boy is a "winner" in many ways, but he can't pass that test...yet. And it's not his or my fault!