When I first saw this book, a feeling of dread came over me. Art and crafts brings me back to how art used to be taught in primary schools – lots of paper plates, templates and 30 identical pieces of work stuck to a wall – no creativity or individuality. Had the author called this book – “Early Learning Skills through Craft”, I probably would have approached the review differently because while this book helps children learn some basic early learning skills, it does not help children learn any visual arts.
Essentially this book contains about a year’s worth of cutting and gluing activities, which could probably be then used for other subjects. For example, a lot of the activities involve cutting out a shape then sticking something on it. For example, there’s a page which lets kids make a Mother’s Day card. Once the children have glued and coloured in all the bits and pieces, they can write an individual message in it.
There isn’t really any activity that stands out as interesting and it’s really up to the teacher to make the activities educational once the craft work is done.
I think this book would probably suit a rainy day activity or in conjunction with a lesson the teacher plans herself. In fact, if the book had have suggested curriculum activities to do with the craft exercises, it would have been a much better book. I’m quite shocked that the book purports to support any curriculum aims from the Visual Arts curriculum.
It’s very difficult to find a commercial book that supports the primary curriculum. Similarly before “Ceol”, there was little in the way of music programmes that supported the music curriculum. There are a few decent art books out there but usually they’re found in the shops of art galleries rather than school book shops. However, they usually just focus on one strand or one skill. Whoever invents the Visual Arts version of “Ceol” may become a very rich person indeed. Unforunately, it isn’t the author of this particular book.
Classroom Art and Craft is available from Prim-Ed at a cost of €24.95.