Since October has arrived and the cool weather has made a wonderful return, we are furthering our exploration of colors, textures, and natural materials with the infant classroom. In this activity, we studied fall colors, including deep blues, rich reds, dark purples and burnt oranges. The infants experimented with these colors through finger painting what resulted was a wonderfully cute and enriching experience for them (and us)! We added a few images below of some of their masterpieces.
By stimulating young learners, they are able to develop an understanding of the world around them at an early age. You can see how the children experimented with the paint and colors, and how they enjoyed the wonderfully messy activity. We often caught them staring at their hands, completely in awe that their palms were a different color than what they’re used to seeing, and becoming curious as to how this happened.
From birth, children have learned about the world by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, and hearing. Sensory play also highly contributes to brain development in infants… think of it as “food for the brain.” According to Suzanne Gainsley, “Even before children can speak, they are developing an understanding of things in their environment by actively exploring them with all their senses. As they become more verbal, they are able to describe similarities and differences in what they see, hear, taste, touch, and smell.” At this age, sometimes it’s easier to communicate through art rather than words. Finger painting gives children an outlet to express their feelings and represent ideas in a visual form with no limits as to what they “have to” design.
We always try to encourage the infants to engage in sensory play with different materials. Long before children are able to draw smiley faces and write their names, they learn how to express themselves through non-communicative acts, like doodling, scribbling, and smearing paint across a canvas. While infants don’t have the dexterity to hold and manipulate a paintbrush, they find particular joy in finger painting with their individual fingers and whole hands. Finger painting with infants allows the children to begin their fine motor development, explore colors, form the connection between hand and eye coordination, and explore the relationship between what they do and what happens afterwards. For example: how many of you have seen your child slap their hand on the table, and then appear shocked that a noise was produced, then continue to do it to see if the same reaction occurs? Finger painting is an excellent way for children to explore this cause-and-effect relationship and for us to respond to their non-communicative cues. This is also a great example of how the Reggio Emilia approach values the “languages” of children; we believe that children can grow, learn, and communicate through a variety of activities, not just by reading a book or hearing a lecture.