Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

6 Tammuz 5761 - June 27, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
Pre-School Arts and Crafts --
For Mothers and Home Nurseries

by Devora Piha

Part II


Around the age of three, as the children become more expert in their hand control, we start to give them things that they will be using in kindergarten such as scissors and pasting, which require organization. We give them programs that are packed with opportunities to become familiar and independent and know what to look forward to when they go off to bigger classrooms.

The ability to cut with scissors is a culmination of several developmental factors manifested in upper body development. Strength in the upper torso enables a child to be able to use both hands to control both the paper and the scissors. If a child cannot squeeze scissors hard several times, this may also be due to a weakness in the small muscles of the fingers. For a child, cutting with scissors is equivalent to a pilot flying a plane. How does he control it? What angle does he hold it? How does he handle and adjust to the weight and stiffness of the paper? What is he cutting out? He has to organize his mind to work with new associations each time he attempts to cut paper and shapes that he hasn't worked with before. The ability to cut with scissors is a complicated task and an indicator of proper bodily development.

In the third year, the question may come up if it is necessary to give them paint and paint brushes. We give it to them but much of what they can get from the paint and paintbrush they get from crayons. Crayons are more beneficial at their age for hand control. Children can get pressure control with a crayon. Brush control is difficult at this age. They are not old enough conceptually to understand how a brush can serve them. You can see success in certain areas and it can be a nice experience. Usually painting is done in a standing motion so check whether the child is using his arms in an up motion or if children tire from keeping their hands in this upward moving motion, and if they are using their upper torso.

Later on, in kindergarten, paints and brushes are experiences that include knowing how to hold the paintbrush, the characteristics of paints, how to paint, how to identify colors and the visual effects the motions of their brush strokes make. They learn social and emotional control by keeping their brushes to themselves and cleaning up later.


Representations of the festivals for small children have to do with touching. We give children the pleasure to touch and experience things they will see in their home on yom tov. The backdrop of pre-school provides an opportunity for small children to hold ceremonial objects without the fear of breakage or danger. They see the esrog, the menora, the dreidel, the gragger/noisemaker and they want to know what it's all about. Here they can touch and smell these things that are customized to the growing needs of a young child. On Purim, give the children cellophane paper, little ribbons and scissors. They will sit down and try wrapping with it. Or if they are very little, we give it to them under supervision and let them look through it. On Chanuka, give menoras and candles and let them touch and play with them. All the little children want to touch a Chanuka candle, especially the colored twisted ones. They are so appealing. On Rosh Hashana we bring in the head of a fish and the other simonim. Before Lag B'Omer we take a walk outdoors to pick up twigs. Making a little bonfire would be nice but just the act of picking up and collecting the twigs in itself is satisfying. They see older boys and brothers collecting wood so this has tremendous meaning for them.

Here again we see that so much starts with touching, whether it is grabbing at colorful Chanuka candles or Purim wrapping paper or a thick crayon. Exposure to sensory and material elements in life at an early age provides a child with a rich future and gives him/her information and modes of expression that will be used for communication, thought and language.

Devora Piha is available for next year's school programs. All types of art/ craft/ design/ lecture/ demonstration courses for English speakers from kindergarten to seminary girls. 02-993-1592.


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