The Fairfax County Office for Children, in partnership with
Fairfax County Public Schools and Fairfax Futures, announced
the release of “Early Learning Through the Visual Arts,”
which helps child care providers and teachers use art to
prepare preschoolers for academic success.
Community-based preschool teachers, family child care
providers and Head Start teachers worked together to develop
the “Early Learning Through the Arts” guide to show how to
use museum sculptures and paintings to teach young children
concepts related to math, science, language, literacy and
The guide outlines hands-on activities adults can do with
children to help them better understand works of art. The
guide also includes discussion questions, vocabulary words,
related children’s books, guidelines for museum visits and
“The suggested learning experiences in the guide are a lot
of fun, and really engage children intellectually, socially
and physically,” says Betsi Closter, the Office for
Children’s school readiness coordinator.
Although the guide explores specific works on permanent
display at the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery
and the Phillips Collection, the activities can be adapted to
exhibits in local venues, such as the Fairfax Museum, the
Workhouse Arts Center, Great Falls Studios, the McLean
Project for the Arts, and the Greater Reston Arts Center.
“For a museum educator, it is a special moment when
early childhood educators and administrators understand the
importance of and how best to use community resources like
art museums,” says Maria Marable-Bunch, who consulted on the
“‘Early Learning Through the Visual Arts’ is aligned with
the Fairfax County Public Schools Program of Studies,”
Closter explains. Copies of the guide book will be
distributed to Fairfax County preschool programs.
The "Early Learning Through
the Visual Arts" announcement was made at the Greater
Reston Arts Center, where visiting children created artwork
that reflected Rebecca Kamen's "Diving Nature: An
Kamen's installation was
inspired by the elements of the periodic table.
Involved in the announcement
were, left to right: Courtney Park, Laurel Learning Center;
Allison Ribiero, Lake Anne Head Start; Suzi Guardia, Greater
Reston Arts Center; Betsi Closter, Fairfax County Office for
Children; Rene Harry, Fairfax County Public Schools; Pam
Tobey, Fairfax County Public Schools; Vera Steiner Blore,
Fairfax Futures; Anne-Marie Twohie, Fairfax County Office for
Children; Dianna Bozza, Fairfax County Public Schools; Maria
Marable-Bunch (standing), museum educator; Maura Burke,
Fairfax County Public Schools.