One day the children removed their shoes and were presented with a unique challenge. Partially covering the concrete floor lay a long white sheet of paper with paint splats on top. At first the toddlers had no idea what to make of it. They were confused, trying to figure out if they could step onto the paper. As soon as the first 2 students walked and started seeing the prints they made, the other children followed, creating two separate pieces.
The provocation was an array of process and energy. By using open-ended materials the paint transitioned from splats to thoughtful textures that documented the toddlers’ cognitive process and experiences. The children learned by observing and responding. At first they watched others attempt to paint with their feet and by seeing what their peers had created the toddlers decided to participate. “All children have preparedness, potential, and curiosity; they have interest in relationship, in constructing their own learning, and in negotiating with everything the environment brings to them ” (Gandini, Etheredge & Hill, Eds, 2008, p. 25). In doing so this demonstrated the toddlers’ ability to make decisions and their desire to learn through exploring.
Through out the toddlers’ exploration they used their feet in different ways and motions. Some children jumped up and down while others attempted to slide their feet. As the children used their feet to paint they were using their body in an unconventional way. This forced the children to think outside the box because painting with feet is not only a different sensation, rather a different perspective. Typically when you are painting the depth of looking down onto a canvas is not far. By painting with the feet the children explored how profound depth can be. Not only did the toddlers discover a new perspective and practice fine motor skills but they learned what they are capable of doing with their bodies by painting with their feet.
The toddlers also learned intellectual concepts of texture and color while in anticipation of what would occur during the provocation. At first glance it may seem that the children were just messing around with paint using their feet. In reality the children learned how to mix colors and the sensation of paint on their feet gave them insight to the paint’s wet and smooth textures. The toddlers also explored the various concepts amongst their peers thus providing a positive peer interaction while strengthening the development of friendships. By experiencing positive interactions the toddlers are more likely to develop healthy relationships as they grow.
According to Saskatchewan Ministry of Education toddlers require space to move and explore, they can walk, jump, speak –they’re in their prime time, rapidly advancing their fine motor skills and social development allowing them for new challenges and experiences such as this provocation!
Saskatchewan Ministry of Education: Gandini, L., Etheredge, S., & Hill, L. (Eds.). (2008). Insights and inspirations from Reggio Emilia. Worcester, MA: Davis Publications.