Visual Materials: Learning from children



Our Early Learning Setting holds great importance to the power of aesthetics in learning. Vea Vecchi defines aesthetic thought as,


“Aesthetic thought is transversal to various languages and disciplines. It uses expressivity to bring a language of relationships into the activities that take place. Aesthetic thought holds relational aspects and expressive aspects of life together. Expressivity is a process that places things in relationships.”


In the article, Visual Literacy Using Still Images, Doug McIntosh explains visual literacy as,

 “It’s not just looking at pretty pictures. It’s understanding how we think – how we connect what we already know about the world, life, relationships and values to those pictures – and then use them to make sense of our expanded world.”



Everyday I have marvelous opportunities to observe young children who have a natural sense of design that is especially evident in the early years. It is this design sense that a great number of twentieth –century artists have tried to recapture in their own work. If given the opportunity to and the time to explore, children naturally order objects by size, categorise objects by shape and differentiate between objects that are straight and curved, rough and smooth, flat or rounded. As children manipulate objects, they often arrange them symmetrically, in radiating configurations, and in compositions that depict real things such as landscapes, machines, people and animals.


Exploring materials is an evocative experience. It stimulates the imagination. It invites children to tell stories and develop games. Encounters with materials give children many ideas and spark connections.

In The Power of the Visual, Garr Reynolds suggests that in order to learn about graphic design or photography or make better visuals we should,



Look around you and really see what there is to see. You can learn a lot, by really taking the time to see and examine the visuals around you. Design is everywhere.”

I think this is especially true of our children’s work and their many ways of expressing themselves. If you were to visit our ELC you would encounter many beautiful emotive representations made by the children. The children seem to have such an intuitive feel for aesthetics, how can we foster and keep this alive as the children grow older?












Interesting Reading

Quote from Vea Vecchi in an interview with Lella Gandini, p. 139 of Cathy Weisman Topal and Lella Gandini, (1993) Beautiful Stuff! Learning with Found Materials Davis Publications Inc: Massachusetts

The Power of the Visual

Teaching Media Literacy: Yo! Are you Hip to This?

Brain Rules: Vision

Nurturing curiosity & inspiring the pursuit of discovery

Questioning Media Messages

Visual Literacy Using Still Images

A Brochure Without Words

This entry was posted in 1.0 CERTIFICATE IN EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGIES, 1.3 Visual Literacy: Effective Communicators and Creators and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Visual Materials: Learning from children

  1. Kim Cofino says:

    Such a good point – somehow I think we loose our ability to see, and to create, as we get older, I’m sure it coincides with the changing expectations in the classroom. I remember loving art as a child and constantly being involved in activities to explore my creativity, but the opportunities grew less and less the older I got and now I really struggle with art, design and creativity. I have a feeling I’m not alone…

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