Usually we paint inside the classroom, but the children expressed interest in painting outside, so we set up a provocation. Using paintbrushes and a mixture of water, cornstarch and food coloring, each color was placed in a bowl and presented to the children in a concrete area. What was missing was something to paint on. Interesting dilemma, agree?
The children automatically went to the paintbrushes, felt the bristles in their hands, examined the bowls filled with the paint mixture, and surveyed the entire set-up. One child took a leap of faith and stuck his paintbrush into a bowl and slowly began painting on the concrete. Soon after, the rest of the children followed suit. They explored the relationship between the brush and paint, and the paint and surface. Children began painting on the concrete, walls, themselves, and each other! Occasionally a child would look up at one of us as if to say, “Is this okay?” as they painted on the concrete. We explored the difference between the smooth plates, rough concrete, soft bristles, and liquid paint.
This activity was a wonderful sensory play experience. 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 mixture, completely soaking it, and then watch the paint drip off the brush onto the concrete. The children were able to further their understanding of gravity, consistency, texture, and color while connecting and communicating with each other.