We acknowledged that contemporary art can be a safe context where to study emotions and learn to feel empathy. Children need safe and unbiased places to learn about their emotions and reactions. Talking about art and making art together can give that.
We wanted to increase the skills of educators to use art as a tool and as a safe environment to handle personal, sometimes difficult issues.
We train educators to use the Art Expedition package in they own kindergarten or class. They are provided with a back pack consisting of the instructions, some background material and an art fairy called Green (a stuffed toy). Green will be their guide through the expedition. The training can take place in the museum or in virtual meeting.
We have chosen a set of art works from our collection to be inspiration for discussions, telling stories and making meaningful art peaces together. The group get a large-scale photos of the art works and an opportunity to visit the museum after their expedition.
Educators can choose a suitable time of day or divide the expedition to several days. The educators know their pupils: about their strengths and abilities as well as difficulties. But in the same time the educator is on the same journey, on new ground with his/hers pupils, building soothing spaces and creating characters out of materials found in nature.
We have trained kindergarten teachers in Espoo, Finland for two years. About 15 to 20 groups have done the Art Expedition.
Espoo city early education unit together with cultural unit spread the word and link the museum to day care centers and educators. We have reached two large areas of Espoo and aim to provide Art Expedition to other areas of our big city.
We would like to see if the Expedition package would be scalable to other art collections and other local museums. Social and emotional skills develop without further ado just by discussing and experiencing art together. That means that we would be interested to develop a model or a corpus for other museums and art institutions to use. They could ground it on their own art works.
You could contact me or our art educator Maria Vähäsarja. We would provide you with the material and training.