Summer break is here, and as such this is the perfect time to share ideas for introducing calligraphy to kids and for promoting summer art projects. We have several products that we’ve tried with kids, and I would love to share some recommendations with you. Not all kids are ready to jump into calligraphy, but encouraging a love of art at a young age is always a good choice!
If you are ready to start calligraphy instruction, first and foremost consider the age of the child you’ll be working with. While I won’t give you the exact correct age to start, I’d certainly say your student needs to have a good understanding of letter forms and a decent ability to execute them. Starting too early will prove frustrating for the teacher and student alike.
That being said, Eleanor Winters has an excellent book entitled Calligraphy for Kids that should certainly be included in your resources. In every book Eleanor writes, she gives thorough instruction, and this is no exception. In fact, it’s great for beginners of any age, not just kids. You’ll see alphabets broken down and explained over the course of the chapters. This book was used as a resource for a calligraphy club at a local middle school, and it was perfect for the sixth grade members.
In terms of paper, a grid pad is a must. Having paper to practice directly on is easier for kids, and it allows them to use the guidelines to help form proper letterforms. As they progress, you can move to translucent paper and guidelines, but starting with a grid pad will be easiest. For broad edge hands, try the large or small grid pads or the Westwind grid pad. For pointed pen, there is a copperplate practice pad and a Spencerian practice pad available.
Choosing a writing instrument is dependent on your student as well. When I started to learn calligraphy (as an adult), I was told a practicing with a pencil would be helpful while trying to learn to draw the letters. Having to draw in thicks and thins helps you to determine where you will need to put pressure once you switch to an actual nib. Markers can also be used when learning broad edge hands. Once your student is ready to work with a nib and holder, an inexpensive straight holder works for broad edge styles and for left handed pointed pen and a peerless holder is excellent for pointed pen styles. In terms of nibs, Speedball nibs are common for broad edge styles as are Mitchell and Brause, and chrome nibs (Nikko G, Zebra G, or Tach G) are a good place to start for pointed pen. Higgins Eternal is a common ink for beginners, but do be aware that it can bleed on inexpensive practice paper.
If your child, grandchild, etc. is not ready for calligraphy but does love art, we have a few other products of interest. First, we have the Wonderful Wheel of Color book. I wrote a blog article showing the simplest of the activities being done with pre-schoolers, but this book lends itself well to elementary aged children and does an excellent job of teaching color theory. It’s ideal for kids who love to paint, color, etc., and the projects are perfect for long summer days. Check out the blog article for pictures of the entire process of creating a basic color wheel.
Also available are the Artterro Art Journals. These fun books have 14 pages of project ideas and provide several fun papers. Use them for doodling, drawing, collage designing, card making, etc. Inside are decorative papers, solid color papers, and plain white paper-all ready to be cut, drawn on, etc. The descriptive cover is removable, and a plain cover awaits decorating. These are ideal for all ages as the creative possibilities are truly endlesss.
Artterro has also created a bookmaking kit that is quite fun. I love it for the beautiful papers included! Use it to make small books, handmade cards, etc. It is recommended for children 8 and up, but with help, younger kids can make their own books as well. Last summer, my daughter (then four) created her own joke book by telling me her silly original jokes and having me record them.
Last, the Pop Out Boxes series allows kids to create fun, unique boxes. The outside of the boxes are full color patterns, while the inside are black and white and begging to be colored. You’ll want glue or tape to help with construction, and once complete, these are perfect for small gifts, candy, etc.
Again, you won’t go wrong when encouraging young children to explore and express themselves creatively with art. Even those too young to begin calligraphy can learn early to love making cards by hand, painting picture, doodling, etc. If your little one does spend time creating this summer, please be sure to share pictures with us or have him/her send us an envelope!