How Children Learn Visual Art, Grades 5–8

In grades five to eight, students’ visual expressions become more individualistic and imaginative.

The problem-solving activities inherent in making art help them develop cognitive, affective, and psychomotor skills. They select and transform ideas; discriminate, synthesize, and appraise; and apply these skills to their expanding knowledge of the visual arts and their own creative work.

Students understand that making and responding to works of visual art are inextricably interwoven and that perception, analysis, and critical judgment are inherent to both.

Their own art-making becomes infused with a variety of images and approaches. They learn that preferences of others may differ from their own. Students refine the questions that they ask in response to works of art. This leads them to an appreciation of multiple artistic solutions and interpretations.

Study of historical and cultural contexts gives students insights into the role played by the visual arts in human achievement.

As they consider examples of visual works of art within historical contexts, students gain a deeper appreciation of their own values; the values of other people; and the connection of the visual arts to universal human needs, values, and beliefs. They understand that the art of a culture is influenced by aesthetic ideas as well as by social, political, economic, and other factors.

Through these efforts, students develop an understanding of the meaning and import of the visual world in which they live.

Source: National Standards for Arts Education, published by Music Educators National Conference (MENC). Copyright © 1994 by MENC. Used by permission. The complete National Arts Standards and additional materials relating to the standards are available from MENC, The National Association for Music Education, 1806 Robert Fulton Drive, Reston, VA 20191, telephone: 800-336-3768.