For this project our group has chosen “Fantasy” as our theme. Fantasy refers to a world of imagination filled with creative mental images and uninhibited fancy. These images or visions of fantasy may be distorted faces of reality; or may even be entirely disconnected to the real world. However, fantasy is more often than not linked to the real world in a child’s world and a crucial precursor to future cognitive and creative development. It is often observed that young children spontaneously engage in fantasy play, especially between the ages 3 to 6, where imagination begins to blossom.
During fantasy play or role play, children are observed to replace or represent items that are not available with substitutes. For example, a child who is in need of a hat may use a bowl, or substitute a camera using a wooden block. This ability to employ abstract or representational thinking is important to cognitive processing and allows the child to practice processing ideas. This behaviour also shows the ability for the child to translate between concrete and symbolic ideas or objects, an important skill that is very much required for literacy development for the child to be able to relate words and text to concrete objects or ideas.
After an episode of fantasy play, these substitute items are reversed back to their original functions. The bowl becomes a bowl again and the block is used as a building block for concrete play. This ability to reverse functions is later on important to the child as a precursor in mathematical function. During fantasy play, children take on roles of imaginary characters and embark on creative stories. This process enables them to practice their processing and creative skills. Language skills are also developed in this process as they organize their thoughts and plot out their stories.
This is essential to their comprehension, processing skills and problem solving skills at later stages. Fantasy play in children usually takes place in groups. This provides an avenue for children to hone their linguistic and social-emotional skills as they need to express their needs and to negotiate in conflicts amongst their peers. Taking on different roles also enables children to develop empathy as they take on alternative perspectives. In some occasions, children use fantasy play or dramatic play to revisit experiences in which they felt powerless.
This process helps them to make sense and understand the situation and give them a sense of control. This can be an important part in maintaining the child’s psychological health. Since fantasy plays such an important role in the development of a young child, fantasy in art helps children to attain these aspects. Fantasy art are mainly grouped into the visual and literature forms. As mentioned, young children are engaged mostly in fantasy play between ages 3 to 6. This coincides with the stage where children are building their vocabulary and language skills.
At this stage, a child may not be able to fully express their thoughts and emotions through language. Visual art provides children with an outlet to express themselves freely and enables them to make sense of their thoughts through their art work. Visual art also enables children to understand the relationship between the concrete world and symbols as pictures and drawings enable children to translate their experiences or thoughts into print even before they are able to read or write. This serves as important precursors to writing or reading skills as the children are better able to understand the concept of print.
Adults can facilitate a child’s learning by talking to them about their art pieces and providing the vocabulary required to express their thoughts. Through visual arts, children can also negotiate mathematical concepts such as spatial awareness, size, and geometry. Last but not least, fantasy in visual art allows children to express themselves freely and let their imagination and creativity run wild. It allows the child to be transported to a world of imagination in the safety of their own homes.