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Preschool Process Art Workshop

The first"ground rule" or "how can I learn best" pointer during my art classes, is to "LOOK AND LISTEN CLOSELY", through a picture of big eyes and big ears. This, I feel is easier for children to understand what is paying attention is all about because I don't just want them to look and listen to me but also to stories, artworks, and to their fellow artist friends during show-and-tell.

According to the Fred Rogers Institute, one of the Fundamentals of Learning and Growing, is "The Capacity to Look and Listen Closely". Here's an excerpt from the article,

The capacity to look and listen carefully is the ability to intentionally observe and learn from the world around a person. Listening carefully refers to a person’s active listening and attentiveness. Looking carefully refers to a person’s process of stepping back to observe and gather information. With the capacity to look and listen carefully, a person can begin to intentionally communicate with others without judgment. 

Slowing down to appreciate and understand what is in each moment is a vital part of the growing and learning process, and this applies to everyone, not just children.


Slow Looking

I believe that "Slow Looking" is a wonderful creative exercise or training we can engage in throughout our daily life. It involves slowing down to look and listen carefully. Sounds simple but yet most of us are not doing it. Perhaps we just need a few steps or prompts to get us started on this journey. Here are some simple steps suggested by Project Zero:

  1. Select your subject for slow looking. How about something in your environment, an artwork or a person?

  2. Observe your subject. Look closely at the subject for at least five minutes and note down as many features as you can. Everything you see and hear.

  3. Record your “wonders”. Write a list of questions or “wonders” that you have.

  4. Consider your subject within a bigger system. Think of a bigger system connected to the subject.

  5. Visualise the system. Sketch a diagram that shows the different parts of the system and how they might interact.

  6. Reflect. Either individually or with a group. Are there any new insights?


Make It Swing, Make It Ring!

For Step 1, I've the perfect creative exercise here for you, taken from my book "Slow Looking at Birds, that you can try on your own, with friends or as a family.

Oriental Magpie Robin mixed media


Observe: Look at the picture of the bird. Then visit the website and click the icon “LISTEN” to listen to the audio recordings of the “Oriental Magpie-Robin”.

Visualise: As you listen, draw to the rhythm and melody of its call.

Reflect: Listen closely to bird sounds in your daily walks and reflect on how they are different. Look and listen out for the "Oriental Magpie-Robin!

Happy Creating! And for more creative fun exercises, you can order my book "Slow Looking At Birds: 12 Creative Exercises Inspired By Birds in Singapore".

slow looking at birds creative exercises book

Last year I came across an awesome resource from the UK called the “January Challenge 2024” where 31 creative prompts would be given over 31 days and attended a zoom webinar explaining what the resource is all about. Below is a summary of my key takeaways on “Why is Creativity Important?”

  • It helps with Emotional Regulation. Engaging in creative activities is a form of self-care and provides opportunity for self-expression. There is also a sense of joy and fun that comes from the focused time creating.

  • It provides Intellectual Stimulation. Creative exercises provide challenges to think differently and come up with new ideas. There is also a sense of achievement.

  • It creates Community. When we share activities, engage in the process with one another, we create connection. Such connections encourage and motivates us further.

It’s not too late to sign up for the challenge as we are just one week into January. You can also just use the creative prompts at your own pace!

Emotional Regulation

If you've a school-going kid, transitioning to the new school year is never easy, especially for formal schooling. There is so much focus needed, so many rules to follow and everyday the teachers are ‘scolding’ someone in class. I’ve one child going to Primary 1 this year, one child going to a new class in Primary 5 and my eldest going to Secondary 2 with new responsibilities as a CCA leader. We are taking things slow and providing them a lot of space to rest and play after school.

Here is one simple low-prep mess free doodling activity that your child can engage in after school. All you need is a piece of A4 paper and markers. Doodling helps to reduce anxiety, release stress, improve memory and focus. And most importantly, it provides the opportunity to talk about your child’s emotions.

funny faces activity

Happy Creating in the new year and the next time, and to be kept updated on articles, you can subscribe to our newsletter! Simply scroll to the bottom of this page to sign up.

Which one came first? The words came first? The art came first? The birds came first?

The art came first. Then looking at the real birds.

I didn't really started off with the intention of writing a book about this topic. It was just sketches and sketches of birds from a book. Slow looking at birds from a book called "A Naturalist's Guide To The Birds Of Singapore" and sketching them out.

These sketches turned into paintings and then into mixed media artworks. And it was until I finished the artworks, that I thought, why not write a book about looking at birds.

Slow looking is simply learning through observation. And birds would probably make a bad subject to observe since they fly off so fast. We've to thank the bird photographers for making slow looking at birds possible for us.

The next question that comes to mind will be, "Okay, I'm looking slowly but is that all to it?"

Hence, I've written 12 creative exercises based on E. Paul Torrance's research on 12 skills that children employ when they are being creative. Torrance is known as the “Father of Creativity”, defined creativity as “generation of novel and useful ideas”. Just as we exercise to keep in shape, we also engage in creative exercises to continuously be creative.

I hope this book will inspire you in slow looking at the world around you and also develop your creativity!

Slow looking at birds: 12 creative exercises inspired by birds in singapore

This book is suitable for both the young and old to exercise and express our creativity. Bring it with you 'on-the-go' when you need to take a break and engage in one of the creative exercises. Gather your friends and colleagues for a creative challenge at work or at play. Bond as a family to create together! BUY HERE

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