Balloon Sculptures

In a private art class this week with Marjon, the students chose their favorite animal and choose a balloon that best resembled the animals facial structure. Next, the children covered their balloons with paper mache pulp and sculpted the facial characteristics they observed through an observational study. When the children came back to class the next week, their sculptures were dry and the students couldn’t wait to pop their balloons inside so the sculpture could stand on its own. After they popped the balloon, the children chose colors to paint on the sculpture. Some students chose colors in order to match the animal they were creating while others selected colors they simply wanted to use. The students painted their animals and were able to use various materials inside the classroom to add final details to their sculpture. Below you will see some of the finished products!

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This activity highlights two important aspects in the Reggio Emilia philosophy: the principle that children can have some control over the direction of their learning and allow them to express their knowledge of the animals by creating one of their own. (It’s amazing how much more they understood the facial features of the animal by sculpting it themselves!)

Throughout the activity we discussed the colors of the paint, complimentary colors, shades, how to represent the various textures found in animals, and more! As the children create and gain knowledge from representing their understanding in a different way, their ability to grow and develop is amplified.

According to MaryAnn Kohl, creating art expands a child’s ability to interact with the world around them, and provides a new set of skills for self-expression and communication. Not only does art help to develop the right side of the brain, it also cultivates important skills that benefit a child’s development. But art goes far beyond the tangible statistics measured by studies — it can become a pivotal mode of uninhibited self-expression and amazement for a child.

Specifically, art and painting assists children in developing their communication skills, problem-solving skills, social and emotional skills, fine motor skills, and self-expression. Moreover, have you ever observed your child while they were creating art and notice how they seem to block out the world? Painting, drawing, sculpting, and creating increases children’s concentration, allowing them to revel in their emotions, work on the activity in front of them, and focus on the process and not just the end result.

A great way to extend this study of color and adventure is to encourage your child to sculpt with moldable clay at home. Regardless of the age of your child, this will assist in developing their fine motor skills, dexterity, and creativity. Sculpting and molding together is a great bonding experience. Allowing your child to sculpt freely will allow your child to trust themselves, their instincts, and even teach you about your child. The children consistently surprise us with their emotional development and descriptive experience when we simply ask them to “tell me about your sculpture” rather then question, “what is that?”

“The atelier is not only about the arts. Neither is it about something in addition to the work we do in the classroom. Rather, it is about linking the experience of our lives as teachers with the children’s lives and waking up together in the world of a new geography. This is a geography of the imagination.” –Barbara Burrington

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