A Guide to Art for All: Big and Small

 I have been a teacher for the past 12 years, and as of recent, a new opportunity has opened up for me.  I am taking a break from working with children, and am joining the corporate world of sales…it may seem like such a different element of work, but in the end it will allow me to open my own business, a few years down the line!  That business would entail me to sell myself as a respectable and knowledge educator and therapist introducing therapeutic techniques involving art, nature and music to young children.

Working with young children and other teachers, I often think adults forget what it was like to be messy, run around with your pants off care free, eat dirt and massage mud in hair!  This is a staple to any explorative, age appropriate development, and we should not stifle the silliness that ensues just because there my be a bigger mess to clean.  Also, books, cars, dolls and most anything else a child finds interest in, can be taken to different zones, rooms, or tables.  Some people get to caught on cars belong on the floor.  Well technically, they belong on the road…Secondly, there are many benefits to a child looking at wheels rotate at eye level on a table.  Or, gravity and inertia when the car is released on a slide.  Cross curriculum is huge in a child’s development.

I have come up with a resource for teachers that inspires art to be seen in a different light.  I have began “book” for educators to find materials to create different works of art, and in the process creating so many more connections for the children participating, and the peers’ observations.  The tools are all from nature.  A paintbrush was used, but only to paint bark and bushes! All safe paints 🙂

Natalie, “Rosemary”

The final product has artwork from the children (they all said yes )!  Within this you will find some of my documentations, observations and conclusion of the activity.  The story told throughout pictures.  The book also boasts benefits for the children in areas of development and other connections to make.  The set up is easily readable and layouts are the same for the different works of art.  It is an easy resource to thumb through.  Take for instance “Rosemary.”  The section on this art also includes pre-art activities such as collecting rosemary, counting the rosemary, comparing the pieces, rolling the rosemary between our fingers and much more.  Some include follow up activities and modifications due to age, and other factors.

 The layout is simply paper inserted into sheets.  Along the way I decided to modify how it was going to be put together.  I wanted it to look and feel authentic to lesson plan binder.  I chose to write in the activities and connections to entice the teacher who reads it to add to it themselves.  Find a new tool, new inspiration and add the art.  All in all, I wanted a resource that holds true to what I believe in, which is young children being exposed to art, nature and having the encouragement to be autonomous, inquisitive and free.

Let’s start by taking a look at an example of a section.  We can start with Otis A.  He did Grass painting.  Otis A. had a palette and a brush, I incorporate them when we need to paint our main tool!  He used his fine motor skills to apply the paint to the grass.  Here he is developing critical skills that will help him succeed in writing.  Gripping is a fine motor skill that needs to be nurtured.

He had no time limit, and could paint the grass until his pallet was empty.  Once more paint was applied to the grass he expressed that he was done.  The next step into process is to put the paper down on the grass.  They can then walk on it, stomp, hop, skip and so forth.  The impressions from their weight make beautiful strokes in the grass.  Also, patterns from show soles transfer in the creating.  When I do this activity I also sing the jumping song.  “Otis, Otis jump up and down, jump up and down. Otis, Otis jump up and down, now Otis look at your Art.”  He then backed up, bent down and revealed his colorful creation.  A smile upon his face.  He felt proud.

Evangelene also painted with a brush, but hers was use to paint a Bush yellow.  She painted the tips of the branches and watched it drip saying, “Oops” the first time.  I told her that it was okay and that the yellow paint fell onto the green grass from gravity, and how her shoe could possibly transfer it.   From just that one drip,

the lesson could expand to many places.  She continued to paint.  Once Eva was satisfied with the amount of paint on the bush, I gave her her paper.  She manipulated the paper in more than one way to achieve her masterpiece.

At first she used the branches as if they were brushes them selves.  She was working on concentration in getting the branches to bend in order for the paint to transfer onto her paper.  The sun also made the yellow tricky to see, so she moved around with it.  Once the paint was off of the tips, she bent her paper to reach different angles

After wards, she stepped back and looked at both art and bush, handed me her picture and asked for more.  Evangelene was using critical thinking, problem solving and strengthening her cognitive development.  All vital skills she will need as she grows through life, meets obsticals, attends grade school, applies for a job etc.  The skills she is developing out of curiosity and ambition, are derived from a paint, a brush and a bush.

After wards, she stepped back, looked at both art and bush, handed me her picture and asked for more.  Later on she created the work for Feathers.

Next is Otis F.  He used his fingers, wrists, arms, shoulders and his upper body strength to paint with Rocks.  This is one of my favorite activities and I normally call it “Rocks in a Box.”  I have made adaptations to this activity.  For infants and young toddlers, the rocks go into a pitcher with the top sealed off, and they can shake to their hearts content.  Otis F. is old enough to now know that Rocks are for: feeling with your fingers, seeing with you eyes, sniffing with your sniffer, hearing with your ears but not for eating!  He chose blue paint.

When I talk about colors with my kiddos I tell them about shades. Not every blue is blue, not evey green is green. There are variations in tones and hughes.  They are young, but never to young to be exposed to language, new ideas and expressions.  What better way to learn about shades than watching them blend right before your eyes.

Otis F. used his fingers every once in a while to push the rocks around or move them back onto the paper.  He was strengthening his eye-hand coronation and working on fine motor precision when picking up the rocks with his pincher fingers. But he would go right back to shaking!

Occasionally rocks flew out and it was funny.  He would follow the trails that the paint made on the floor.  He saw skip marks and splatters when the rock made contact.  He heard it hit, saw it roll and felt it when he picked it back up.  He had a blast.

One of the children who I had the privilege or working with was born at only two pounds.  His brother 1 pound. Ethan hit his milestones later than the other children, but he was a tough little guy. He impressed me every day, from holding his spoon on his own, to crawling just a few weeks before I left the school. I gave Ethan Wool to help with sensory sensitivity and strengthen his hands.

At first Ethan would hold the wool and drop it.  I dipped it into the paint and put in on my paper.  I gave the wool to him and helped guide his hand.  From there he was wary of the textured when the wool was wet.  He was a trooper, as he is in everything, and kept creating his art.  When picking up his palette he tried to eat it a few times, but we talked about what paint was for.  And that it was on his circle pallet for him to dip.

Once he started to loose interest in the pallet, he began to play with the wool.  Art is the process not the product.  Ethan continued to manipulate the wool for the rest of the time.  He would bring his hands together crossing his midline, strengthening his cognitive skills.  These will turn into balance, the ability to bend with control, walking and any gross motor (large muscle) function that requires stability and coordination.

With the work he did that day in his hands, he has developed just that little bit more he will need to continue to pull himself up to standing, or gripping the shelf with one hand when he needs to lower himself back down.  All of these skills can be nurtured and enhanced at this age.  He is a sponge, and learns through play.  The simplicity of pulling wool could lead him to a gripping future.

My youngest artist featured in the Resource Book is Quinn.  She came to me at 2 months old.  She is a spitfire, and has the red hair to match!  She has always been uniquely strong.  She doesn’t crawl so much as she scoot, but she scoots with power.  She is incredibly fast and limber.  Since about 3 months Quinn was sitting herself up and mobile.  She is going to keep her parents busy for sure!  Quinn and I hunted for Pinecones and she created a rainbow of colors. 

At first Quinn did great with dipping the pinecone in the paint.  She practiced techniques creating different effects with the paint.  The dots were achieved with just the tip of the pinecone.  She held it upside down and bent her head to see it touch the paper.  She then discovered the pinecone crunched when she pressed down onto it.  The pallet was forgotten about from then on!

She smushed it and was rough, as infants can be!  She used her core strength to lean into it when trying to hear the crunch.  At one point the pinecone was painting the table and not her paper.  Please always remember, Art is the process not the product.  During Quinn’s process she used her senses to explore a pinecone: smell, the sticky sap and the sound of the crunch.  In the end she gained a lot more from those 6 minutes than a beautiful piece of art.

She saw colors blend, lines form, paint splatter, smear and smudge.  Her exposures should always be as bright, open and expressive as her pinecone picture.

I have tried to express to those who I have mentored and to parents who have asked, that children need to learn through play.  It is how the make meaningful connections and discover what they can do, enjoy doing and what they dislike.

When it comes to art it is okay to leave materials out. If they spill or break, that is okay too.  That is what children are here to do.  They are here to push boundaries and learn from their mistakes, just like we did.  It is our job to instill in them independence, creativity and a sense of safety in their environment.  Allow them to be messy, spontaneous and out of the box.  It has always been my motto with children, and it always will be, as I it hold near to my heart in the world of art,

Always Encourage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *