“Art is an experience that requires free thinking, experimentation, and analysis — all part of creativity.” – MaryAnn Kohl
One day in class we presented the children with fluorescent paint on the light table and on a large piece of white paper as a provocation. We were curious to see if the children would treat the paint the same when painting on the different surfaces. Our role as teachers was to simply observe, ask questions, and encourage them that yes, painting with your fingers and hands is okay.
The children were overjoyed and thoroughly loved the activity. Their eyes lit up at the bright colors and many of them immediately dove in and began exploring the paints. Throughout the activity we discussed the colors of the paint, sounded out how to pronounce them, and practiced identifying each color. As the children create and gain knowledge from their experiences, we are able to incorporate math, spelling, writing and more.
We also provided the children with paintbrushes and cups to use however they liked. As you can image, results varied: Some of the children used the paintbrushes to paint on themselves, the paper, and the cups, while some of the children spent a significant amount of time stacking the cups on top of one another. Two of the children continually smashed the cups and were absolutely fascinated by the resulting sound.
“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.” –MaryAnn Kohl
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 and drawing trains 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 paint with your child. Painting together is a great bonding experience, however it is important to allow yourself to have the freedom to paint without trying (similar to what your toddler does). Allowing your child to paint freely and without the constraints of painting an definite object or word 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 picture” rather then question, “what is that?”