Over the past 2-3 weeks the School of Wonders toddlers have been doing projects that involve painting without paintbrushes. We noticed their interest in using other objects to paint with, and we wanted to embrace this curiosity and use it to fuel their creativity. We set out other tools to paint and explore with such as Q-tips, paper towel rolls, and their hands.
We offered colored blocks to our toddlers to actively engage with the intent of not using any paintbrushes to paint with. Each block had a different design and different sizes to them. This constructive opened up creative possibilities for creating art, but also provided opportunities for counting, and recognizing colors and shapes.
According to the Child Development Institute, constructive play allows children to experiment with objects and gives toddlers the sense of control in their environment. The more comfortable a child is with manipulating materials the more confidence they will have in their ability to create. Therefore our toddlers will be better at manipulating abstract concepts and ideas when they get older.
The children would grab a block of their choice and examine the design and size of the block. Not only were the toddlers putting their motor skills to practice, they were making decisions based off their observations of the colored block. While the children were observing the block with their hands they used their sense of touch to feel the paint, look at the color of the block and feel the weight of the block. As the teachers observe the toddler’s process of the art, they are driving the learning opportunities by asking questions about color, size, shape, and encouraging the children to communicate those attributes.
By creating observations of the colored block with their senses, the children made the inference that the physical object was hard and durable enough to put pressure onto it. The toddlers then continued to refine their motor skills by applying pressure to the colored block onto the blank paper. This engaging process demonstrates how focused the children were with the colored blocks. This process of exerting force onto the colored block was almost like a stamping effect. The concept of stamping is that the print looks identical each time it is repeated. It is a guarantee you will know how the result will look like.
This provocation pushed the child’s creativity and curiosity because it broke this concept of repetition. Having the colored blocks in different sizes and designs allowed them to break this repetition and provoked the students to explore different results. By using their senses the toddler learned that depending on how much paint they put on the block, the design of the block, and the size of the block the outcome of their colored block print would be affected.
Creating art with the colored blocks has been constructive play for the toddlers. Working with materials that require pressure such as pushing down onto the colored block to create a print can help children release tension and increase positivity.
In doing so it has begun to set the foundation for decision making, learning and figuring out that there are different ways to achieve a goal—in this case creating a design with colored blocks. These skills learned in this project are the building blocks for improvising. In life you do the best you can with what you have. People come from all walks of life in different designs and sizes like the color blocks our toddlers used. Because no two people have identical tools to accomplish similar goals this activity of working with different sizes and designs in color blocks demonstrates how the child had an idea and how they developed that idea with the material they had.
This has nurtured the confidence in our children’s ability to create. We like to provide our children with a variety of opportunities and try to teach them that there is not only one set way of doing and accomplishing things. We want them to know they have many different options of exploring and learning!
“A child’s play is not simply a reproduction of what he or she has experienced, but a creative reworking of the impressions he or she has acquired.”
-Lev Vygotsky, Soviet psychologist