Toddler art show reveals creative spirit at Vail Child Development Center
AVON — The Vail Child Development Center hosted its first Toddler Art Show recently in Eagle-Vail. Under the direction of teachers Lupe Garcia and Jeaninne Carty, nine little artists, ages 12 to 18 months, showed off their emerging talents in a variety of mediums and painting styles.
Blowing watercolor painting, corn syrup painting, flower painting, car painting, dandelion painting, mouse painting, pine branch painting, foil wrapping paper painting — if it exists, these kids can paint it.
The art show had the feel of any low-key gallery show. In addition to the art being displayed throughout the classroom, there was a slide show focused on the children creating their masterpieces and light snacks. And like some celebrities, the toddler artists seemed unaffected by their fans’ appreciation (and more interested in the snacks).
“Our classroom is set up so they can explore because that’s how they learn,” Carty said. “It’s not structured, it’s more open so they can explore their creative expressions.”
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There is an art area that the children can work in during the course of the day. Paints, crayons, odds and ends — the students are encouraged to work with whatever they’re interested in. Carty is a fan of incorporating nature into her students’ daily life; they might pick up pinecones or rocks or leaves on a walk outside, and bring them inside to be used in an art project. Play and exploration are powerful teachers.
“They learn fine motor skills, and they learn to share,” Carty said. “They learn a lot of things working together in the same area: patience, language skills, cooperation. Some kids, they just want to jump into it. But we only have one easel, so everybody takes turns.”
‘More about playing’
The Vail Child Development Center is not only a daycare; it’s a preschool. Children attend through kindergarten. As they get older, the program becomes more academic.
“My class is more about playing, being independent, learning skills like eating. I like to have work jobs as well,” Carty said. “But we do have a schedule. We have circle time, singing. We don’t really teach the ABC’s, but we teach by singing and reading books. We take walks, we collect rocks and sticks, and then we come in and paint them.”
Carty has worked in early childhood education for 13 years; she still enjoys it — and the kids themselves.
“I love art, and I really love when they make messes,” she said, laughing. “Even when they go outside and jump in puddles, I like it.”
This summer, she plans on having her students create a book.