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Source: Bronwyn Fees, 785-532-1476, fees@k-state.edu;
and LuAnn Hoover, 785-532-5662, lhoover@k-state.edu
News release prepared by: Jane Marshall, 785-532-1519, jpm2@k-state.edu

Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010

SIDEBAR: ART CONNECTS PRESCHOOLERS IN CHINA, MANHATTAN

MANHATTAN -- Preschoolers at Stone House, the Ruth Hoeflin Early Education Center on the Kansas State University campus, became pen pals of sorts with preschoolers in China. But since most 3- to 5-year-olds can' t write letters, they exchanged art.

The project sprang from K-State's LuAnn Hoover, instructor of family studies and human services, and Bronwyn Fees, associate professor of family studies and human services, after their visit to the affiliated kindergarten at South China Normal University in Guangzhou, China, in 2009.

At a conference in Guangzhou, Fees and Hoover spoke on developing creative thinking and developmentally appropriate practices in early care and education in the United States. They also spent a day observing a class of 3-year-olds.

To foster a relationship between the university programs, the K-State professors and the Chinese professors decided on a children's art exchange.

"We saw this as an excellent opportunity for the K-State students in the early childhood professional teacher education program to see the development stages of children in their drawings, and see how children understand their environments in the states and in China," Hoover said.

"Understanding and appreciating diverse cultures is a professional standard in teaching education; what better way to learn than through children's eyes?" Fees said. "All children represent their thinking through their drawings. Children in China are no different than the children in the U.S. in this respect."

Xiao Xiao, an undergraduate student from South China Normal University, transcribed the Kansas children's descriptions of their drawings into Chinese for the Chinese teachers and children to read.

Fees said similarities include the sun in the top corners of the page, green grass, rainbows and smiling faces. The affiliated program in China has an artist in residence to help the 5-year-olds, she said.

The project was partially funded by a Tilford Grant.