Painting with Cars

Freight Train and Bullet Train Class

In our school cooperative play and learning is a large part of the day. When children are working on a project together, regardless of the complexity, they are learning critical social and emotional intelligence skills. They must read social cues like their friend being happy or upset by something they might be doing. The children must communicate their ideas and wants to each other. They must wait and problem solve every step of the way.

The children in the Train class have been exploring movement with paint! In our school paint is used for countless explorations in academic areas, as a sensory medium, learning and experimenting with math/science concepts, art, literacy, and self expression. The children in the Train class also love to play with cars. The teachers set up a provocation for the children to merge paint and cars!

The children discovered a covered table with large plates of paint and cars. The children began to dip their cars in the paint and create tracks. This is an excellent and engaging activity. As the children pushed their cars along the table, they became very interested in the tracks they were making and began to push the car in different directions and for varying distances to observe the cause and effect of their decisions. As the tracks became lighter and the children choose new colors to create tracks, they began to see the colors mix and new colors being created! The children shared their discoveries with each other as they discussed the colors they were using and creating. While the children were engaged in their explorations they began to talk and create stories about who was driving the cars and where they were going. This type of story telling is an important milestone for children and a strong link to literacy. They had to respect each other’s tracks and create self imposed boundaries which is a natural way to practice autonomy and self control.

This project is a wonderful example of children being themselves, playing, learning, collaborating, and enjoying themselves while at school.

The following developmental/academic skills were incorporated and/or naturally occurred as part of this child-led, play-based project:

Literacy/Language: Creating stories about who is driving the car and where the car is going are important skills of storytelling. The more stories children tell, the more they have a positive experience with fiction and using their imagination.

Math/Science/Fine Motor Skills: As the children painted with their cars, the honed their fine motor skills to create the tracks they wanted. Mixing colors is a basic science experiment - the children take 2 separate colors to create a third. As the children continue mixing they are making decisions, gathering new information, making new decisions, etc. Color identification.   

Collaboration/Social/Sense of Self: The children had to communicate with each other to share the paints, cars, and the physical space on the table. The children were respecting each other’s boundaries, expressing their wants and ideas, and working together for the betterment of the group. These are critical skills that must be practiced over and over throughout childhood.

Parental Support: Anytime a parent takes the time to do an activity with their child - especially an activity that is an extension of school work - the child receives the message that their work  and learning is important and valuable. Please extend this project at home by creating your own tracks! You can use anything you or your child select: plastic animals, forks and spoons, family member’s handprints, sliced, food… the possibilities are endless. Feel free to take pictures of this process, bring in the tracks made, or bring the items used for your child to share with their class!

Exploring Footprints

Lately our students have shown quite a bit of interest in the toy dinosaurs we have in our classroom. Our curriculum encourages forming provocations based upon student interests to achieve optimum levels of engagement and to satisfy their existing curiosity. In this exploration, we played off of their interest in dinosaurs by bringing out some of the toys and paints in a variety of colors.

Once the materials were made available, we stepped back and let the exploring begin! Pairing the new, exciting toys with a more familiar tool like paint allowed the children to have a fun, relaxed time of free-play and learning.

The children quickly began to dip the dinosaurs in the paint. They then placed the dinosaurs on the paper, creating footprints. Each dinosaur left a unique set of print marks, varying in shape and size. Eventually the footprints turned into whole sets of tracks, showcasing different colors and patterns on the paper.

Creating, observing and comparing different shapes, sizes and patterns are foundational concepts of mathematics and geometry. This activity also allowed the children to engage and build upon other skill sets ranging from color identification to interpersonal communication.

Not explicitly a team activity, the children were free to individually create and paint in accordance with their own imagination. However, sharing space, paint and tools allowed them to practice working side by side, fostering a comfortable environment for any desired relationship building or collaboration to take place.

Primary Paint Exploration

Learning about color is a key part of childhood development. Being able to recognize colors, match them with their proper names, and understand how and why they exist are all extremely important skills for children to obtain. Because color plays such a large role in the world around us, and in art in particular, we believe it is important for children to fully understand where colors originate from and how to create them.

We recently focused on introducing primary colors to the children. They used cotton swabs to mix red, yellow and blue to create other colors like purple, orange and green. They were encouraged to explore how all of the colors worked together and separately. This gave the children a chance to practice color/word association.

By learning to create colors on their own, the children gained a sense of independence. Having the ability to expand their color set is important in matching the pace at which their imaginations and desires for creative expression are growing. 

This experience also allowed the children to explore the many different shapes that the cotton swab created. There are a lot of circles and lines in their work. Creating these types of shapes are fundamental for their motor skill development and understanding of geometry.

Artistic expression is one of many languages that we value within our curriculum. As a child’s understanding of color expands, their means of self-expression and resources for documenting the world from their perspective also expands.

Painting with Oranges

We regularly incorporate painting into our weekly activities, allowing the children to interact with different paint colors, types, techniques and utensils to express themselves and make beautiful pictures. This week we got creative with our painting utensil and used oranges to make art.

To begin this exploration, we sliced the oranges into halves and gave the children red, yellow and orange paint. The children then dipped the oranges into the paint and “stamped” it onto the paper creating circles. Some of the children began to scoop the inside of the orange out and use the inside to paint with, while others squeezed the juice onto the paper to use as type of paint.

Painting plays an important role in our curriculum because it allows children to express themselves freely, exploring new concepts and documenting personal thoughts and ideas on paper. In this exploration, each child was able to freely determine what technique they wanted to adopt in this orange painting experience, allowing them to explore at their own pace and satisfy their personal curiosities. This builds self-confidence and a positive connotation towards being adventurous and trying new things.

Incorporating an uncommon tool (like an orange) into a common activity is valuable because it challenges the children to jump out of their comfort zone, reevaluate their perceptions of the world around them and practice problem solving. In this activity, the children were able to take an item that they usually associate with snack time and learn to use it as a tool. Working with the oranges to create the desired images, textures and colors encouraged the children to think outside the box and learn through trial and error.

Along with strengthening cognitive skills, this hands-on exploration also built upon fine motor skills. Actions involved in squeezing the juice, cleaning out the inside of the fruit, applying various levels of pressure while “stamping” and reaching to different points of the paper all strengthened the muscles in the children’s fingers, hands and arms.

Interacting with ordinary objects in unordinary ways shows children that things are not always what they seem. When imagination and creativity are applied, children are more engaged. With this spark of interest comes more attention to detail, allowing the children to notice characteristics of the item that they might not pick up on otherwise when their primary focus is getting the fruit from their plate to their stomach.

Mix it up coloring mixing project (Science and Literacy)

This week the children in House Room have been continuing their study of color mixing. We have been reading a new book called Mix it up by Herve Tullet. The book explains the process of mixing primary colors to create secondary colors and various shades. 

The fun, interactive reading really sparked the children’s interest, so we decided to create our own version of the book. We began the process by placing all of the primary colors on a classroom table. The children then had the opportunity to test and determine which colors mix to create green, purple and orange. After mixing their colors they labeled each color with the corresponding name.  

After the process we asked the children what they liked most about creating new colors. Here’s what some of them said: 

·       “When I mix two colors together, it feels like I imagine something”

·       “Making new colors is like magic”

·       “Now I can make green and purple” 

·       “I like making new colors"

Participating in this color mixing experience allowed the children to understand cause and effect, reminding them that their actions have the power to create change. The experience provided an explanation of why and how different colors and shades exist. Understanding the color mixing process empowers a child by giving them the ability to create the colors they need to adequately portray their ideas and emotions. A larger variety of color options means a larger set of tools to explore imagination and express creativity.

The class reading served as a sort of “roadmap” for the majority of the experience. The book’s illustrations mirror a real finger-painting process and the text includes action words like “tap”, “smudge” and “shake” to describe the physical actions the children could take when mixing colors. While reading, the children were also encouraged to count and hypothesize end results in various color mixing scenarios. From a literacy standpoint, sounds of letters and words were reinforced.

The actual mixing of colors exercised the children’s minds, along with their hand muscles. Writing the color names with a marker and handling the paintbrush both enhanced fine motor skills. Labeling the colors allowed the children to practice letter and word recognition and further develop writing and spelling skills. The labeling process also provided an opportunity for the children to grasp a solid understanding of word/image correspondence by matching the painted colors with their appropriate color names.

Making something new gives children a sense of accomplishment and ownership. We will continue to make new paint every week, and create as many new colors as we can. 

Dropper painting

Lately, we have been using droppers and paintbrushes to paint. Learning to use these tools has been a good challenge for the children. While the brushes and droppers both require fine motor skills, the droppers are especially difficult to master because the children have to carefully suck up and release the colored water and paint.

Activities that incorporate fine motor skills are important because they increase the strength and control of small hand muscles. Coordination and precision in these little muscles are required for children to accomplish daily tasks such as buttoning a shirt or eating dinner with utensils. Fine motor skill development is also important for children to accomplish more complicated tasks in the future such as writing.

Take a look at this link to learn more about the stages and value of fine motor skill development.

We constantly engage in conversation with the children as they participate in activities in order to promote communication and vocabulary. A couple of questions that we contemplated regarding our painting exploration included: 

  • What happens when we drop only a few versus many drops?
  • How much force is needed to suck up and release droplets?

This exploration incorporated some important mathematical and scientific learning aspects. By using the droppers the children learned about absorption and displacement of liquid. They discovered cause and effect as they squeezed and released the droppers. We also counted the drops as they cascaded onto the paper.  

Aside from serving as a wonderful learning opportunity, painting is also a fun way for children to freely express their creativity and transfer their ideas and imaginative concepts into something tangible that they can share with others.