This eight-part KET production illustrates the importance of the arts as a form of early self-expression for children from infancy through age 8. The series visits model educational programs around Kentucky and the country to spotlight music, dance, drama, literature, and the visual arts as essential components of early childhood development. Hosted by actress Ana Ortiz, Art to Heart aims to inspire parents and educators to make play and creativity a part of each day’s activities.
Art to Heart is available on a DVD packaged with a viewing guide. The extensive series web site includes background information on the early childhood education programs and approaches featured in the series, downloadable art activities, and links to more resources for parents and educators.
- Children’s First Language—introduces the arts as a way young children communicate their thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Leading researcher Howard Gardner explains his theory of multiple intelligences. Featured locations: the Wolf Trap Foundation Center for Education, a model child care center at East Tennessee State University, the Daviess County schools, the Art Sparks gallery at Louisville’s Speed Art Museum, and a home where mother and daughter make art together.
- Visual Arts—explores how visual arts activities can foster literacy, self-esteem, problem-solving skills, and parent-child bonding. Examples spotlight a rural Kentucky Head Start center where fathers and preschoolers create stepping stones, the art-focused Reggio Emilia approach in two St. Louis schools, a Louisville art class, a preschool class at Philadelphia’s Settlement Music School, and activities at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution that connect art to books. Martin Rollins of Louisville’s Speed Art Museum explains the stages of drawing development.
- Music—Music activities help build physical and language skills and self-confidence while promoting cooperative behaviors. A music teacher at Philadelphia’s Settlement Music School explains the importance of helping young children discover their singing voices, a couple in Lexington sing with their infant, an artist-in-residence introduces Massachusetts kindergartners to songwriting, therapists use music to build preschool skills, and a classical musician teaches inner-city youngsters in Louisville to play the violin.
- Dance—explains the difference between movement and dance and why both are important and enjoyable experiences for young children. Visits to St. Louis, Philadelphia, Berea, and Louisville spotlight activities using African, Appalachian, classical, and modern dance, and movement education specialist Rae Pica explains why it’s important to pay attention to movement basics.
- Drama and the Literary Arts—Inspired by a painting, 3rd graders in Louisville take on roles of explorers and Native Americans. Mother and neuroscientist Lise Eliot explains the connection between reading and brain development, and teaching artists use books and puppets to help children bring stories to life in the classroom. At the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, kids use artifacts, storytelling, and dramatic play to connect ideas in science and history.
- The Artful Environment—looks at how materials, attitude, and teacher/parent involvement can help create an atmosphere that fosters creativity. At the Key Learning Community in Indianapolis, teachers put Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences to work. Reggio Emilia educators explain the importance of providing a variety of art materials, parents and children explore the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, and a Louisville artist and his daughter draw each other.
- Arts for Learning—explores the arts-learning connection in a variety of settings. 3rd graders in Louisville learn about recycling and pollution through Eco-Drama. Neuroscientist Lise Eliot explains how music, movement, and visual stimulation help prime the brain for language development and future learning; a university professor goes into the classroom to demonstrate best practices for teaching art; and Slavko Milekic discusses his interactive museum software for children.
- Arts Every Day—Parents and educators stress the importance of making the arts part of young children’s everyday experience. At Gateway Association Child Development Center in Anderson, IN, the arts facilitate learning for children with a variety of abilities and needs. A Louisville father and artist emphasizes the importance of spending time with your young children. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and Reach Out and Read, founded by Boston pediatrician Barry Zuckerman, encourage parents to read to children. And at a library branch in Lexington, an arts project called Bilingual Boogie Bees helps bring neighbors and cultures together.