The children enjoy painting in general, and they seem to be especially creative when we move the activity outdoors. It seems to give them a unique energy from what they usually experience when painting in the classroom. They explored painting using brushes and their hands, which provided for a wonderful sensory experience.
When we went outside, the children automatically went to the paintbrushes, felt the bristles in their hands, examined the bowls filled with the red paint, and surveyed the entire set-up. They explored the relationship between the brush and paint, and the paint and surface. Children began painting on the paper we laid down, themselves, and each other! Occasionally a child would look up at one of us as if to say, “Is this okay?” as they used their hands to paint instead of the brushes.
The children used all of their senses to create their own understanding of what to do with these materials and how to learn from them. We would frequently see a child dip the paintbrush in the red paint, completely soaking it, and then smash the brush onto the paper. The children were able to develop their spatial awareness by combining shapes and creative curved, straight, thick, and thin lines.
According to Melody Spier, children who paint learn to think with an open mind and to look at situations creatively. They learn to express themselves more deeply through their art and their words. Moreover, painting increases children’s self esteem by creating a sense of pride, provides a stress-reliving outlet (through physical movement and a personal relaxation source), allows them to collaborate with other children, and assists in developmental benefits.
Lastly, and most importantly, this activity advanced the children’s fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and visual perception. We observed the children develop gross motor skills, sensory integration, and grip strength as well.