for parents/adults

A Note from the EYE to: Parents, Teachers and other Grown-ups helping children
with the Eyeball It!TM projects:

The first phase of Eyeball It!TM is now available online free to users – four projects and three drawing exercises. More projects and demos are in development. We'll welcome your feedback and questions.

What’s your role? It’s essential, but not demanding. Hopefully, it will be fun! You’re the connector. It’s your guidance and happy interest that will connect your own child, or the scout troop or after-school class you supervise, with the art opportunities provided by these projects. You don’t need to be an artist, you don’t need tons of time. But children can’t do these projects solely on their own. Your help and encouragement will make all the difference!

What age children do best with Eyeball It!TM? Eyeball It!TM is written for ages 7-12.  Roughly grades 2-6.  Children just completing 1st grade are ready, but younger ones are not.  Responding to eager parents, we tried it with several younger artists in my original test groups and they simply didn’t engage. Developmentally there is important change in that 6-7 year – independent of intelligence, emotional maturity or interest. So if your child isn't 7, it's better to wait.  The last thing we all want is to turn an art-loving child off!

About older children, say 13-14, they will simply select subject matter options within the project that are most appealing to them. The overall directions still work fine.

How do you get started? The big projects are best done in order, beginning with Project #1: Buildings Mural Project. Each project is in an easily downloadable folder as a PDF file. You may read onscreen or better, print the PDF. There are also short videos of technical demonstrations: erasing, drawing a straight line without a ruler, cutting, painting. The videos must be viewed on the website. Each project indicates which videos are most relevant.

I find drawing critical to thinking in the visual arts. So each project that doesn’t involve drawing is accompanied by a one-session Drawing Exercise. The Project #2: Relief Collage folder contains Drawing Exercise #1, etc. The Drawing Exercises are a version of traditional still-life, figure and landscape, each tailored for children’s interests.

The exception to doing the big projects in order comes with weather. If you live where snow obscures what you need to look at in Project #1: Buildings Mural Project or where it’s just too cold (or hot) to be outside for a while, I’d suggest waiting and doing that project in better weather. In that case, begin with Project #2.

Because Project #3: Sculpture with Found Materials (Junk!) has the most open structure of all the projects, I suggest keeping it the third project you work on so children have more experience. If weather pushes #1 to more temperate months, I might suggest doing #2, #4, #3 with their associated Drawing Exercises. Then do #1.

How can you help your children get the most learning and fun out of these projects??

  1. Read the complete directions for each project out loud with your children before they start, and help them with the mechanics of getting started. Each project will be different. To help children read (and to assist parents distracted by younger children and other tasks) we've made read-along recordings. These are audio plus text, built into a simple movie. On the PROJECTS page.
  2. Make sure they have the needed materials and ample, mess-up-able space to work. (Art supply kits are available, please see my Note re: Materials)
  3. Encourage them to go back to the project whenever they want to work on it, whether for an hour or for five minutes, over the course of a month. (Their art will be richer if it develops over time.) And to FINISH the project. Very important!!
  4. Encourage them (and yourself) to be open to whatever the artwork looks like. I tell ALL of my students, including the art teachers I’ve taught at a graduate level, “There are no right or wrong answers in art.”

Many educators believe that documentation strongly reinforces growth. I would urge you and your children to photograph their work informally. You may also suggest that they make a notebook or journal – perhaps with all the project directions printed, some photos of the work in progress and completed, some notes about how they did it, what they liked best, why they chose a certain color.

Children will want to share their work with family and friends, and especially with other children who are doing these projects. If you’re working with a group – say, at a public library, a scout troop, an after-school program – that’s easy. You have an automatic audience for a real exhibition. If you’re an individual, perhaps your family Facebook Page or some other online vehicle.

(At this time, Eyeball It!TM has no plans to develop an online gallery. If you do share images of your children's artwork in response to the projects, you may mention Eyeball It!TM but please make sure everyone understands you're doing so privately/individually – not representing the program.  Please remember to not use the name Eyeball It!TM and/or any content on without prior written consent of Ellen Priest as they are protected by trademark and copyright laws. Thank you for understanding!)

With any exhibition of the artwork, physical or virtual, please don’t ‘judge’ the work or allow the children to do so. Show at least one piece from every child, and show the same number of pieces from every child. No awards, no ‘best in show’, absolutely even celebration for every kid.

Why? The fastest way to shut young creativity down is to compare. Yes, on a math test, there are correct and incorrect answers. In art the opposite is true. We can’t truly know what works or doesn’t – art and our reactions to it are very personal – or whether a child whose work seems hard to understand now will go on to develop brilliant, insightful art later. NONE of us know those things. FROGGY, our mascot, cheers every child on. That’s the Eyeball It!TM model.

So whenever you’re ready to get to work, have fun!!! And THANKS!!!! From me, from Froggy, from the sponsors who have confidence in our work, and from all the young artists.

Very best wishes from my studio!
Ellen Priest (the EYE)

And Eyeball It!TM’s generous Sponsors:

The Eastern Connecticut Community Foundation, Alva Greenberg Fund
John A. Luke, Jr.
Our individual donors, named and anonymous