The Creative “Art” of Making Meaning

  • Marilyn J. NareyEmail author
Part of the Educating the Young Child book series (EDYC, volume 12)


Visually rich digital and media-based texts feature prominently within the educational discourse on preparing learners for their twenty-first century global futures. In discussions of young children’s learning, many early literacy professionals now express familiarity with the term multimodality, although not necessarily a substantive understanding of its application to practice. In this introductory chapter, I offer a starting point for constructing multimodal perspectives of language, literacy, and learning by focusing on the creative “art” of making meaning. Noting the dual use of the term “art,” I draw attention to the notion of making meaning as an “art” and, secondly, to the point that visual images (frequently synonymous with “art”) have become a particularly critical feature of engagement as we prepare children to navigate the changes and challenges of our millennium. I briefly explore relevant constructs: meaning-making, multimodality, and creativity and provide an overview of early phases of young children’s visual language development. Through an insightful description of the multimodal meaning-making processes that emerged in adult-child interactions surrounding a toddler’s early scribbles, I offer authentic illustration of theory in practice. Citing the disconnect between the proliferation of visual textual forms encountered within in our twenty-first century culture and the verbocentric orientation of many adults who influence young children’s learning, I purposefully highlight social justice concerns that problematize the issue of meaning-making in early childhood education relative to adults’ misperceptions of art and children’s image-making.


Textual form Twenty-first century learning Visual language Multimodality Multiliteracies Sensemaking Creativity Scribbling Stage theory Art-based learning Semiotic perspective Synaesthesia Social justice Democratic societies Difference Digital literacy Adult-child interactions Toddler Cognitive development Critical thinking 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Narey Educational Consulting, LLCPittsburghUSA

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