I cannot find the words to do justice to these images, so I give you simply that, the images to savor.
Posts tagged ‘sensory art’
First we warmed up with our hands (and faces, as the case may be).
Then, taking our cues from the adventuresome mice in Ellen Stoll Walsh’s Mouse Paint, we danced and splashed in puddles of red, yellow, and blue, and watched orange, green, and purple magically emerge beneath our feet, and between our toes!
Once again, children’s author and illustrator extraordinaire, Lois Ehlert, provided the inspiration for our classes this week. The colorful folk art images and farmers market theme was a great springboard for lots of engaging imaginative play, role playing and
art-making with mass appeal (with built in cognitive and fine motor skill-building)!
As you can see, we prepared for our market day by making our own shopping bags and decorating a bit of spending money. The kiddos reveled in the simple task of drawing on brown paper bags and blank paper money. It’s always good to remember how a commonplace activity like drawing takes on a whole new level of interest when we introduce a bit of variation (paper bags instead of plain paper, for example). Then I threw in a few basic stickers from the office supply store, and they could have “stuck” with this task for hours. Anything that gives them the chance to use “real” supplies (office labels, money) and skills (pretending to write) that they associate with grown-ups is sure to be a hit, because we all know that at this age, they are little immitators, highly motivated by tasks that allow them to pretend to be like their parents or other admired adult figures in their world. Plus, all this “practice” writing and sticking and unsticking of stickers is a great workout for those little fingers that will be doing “real” writing just down the road.
After we had our supplies ready (and believe me, we could have spent the whole class time just on this), the kids went shopping at our makeshift market. They each counted (with help, as needed) three items to place in their bags. Then they could use their play money to make their purchases, although I wasn’t too strict about this, since some became very attached to their money which had become works of art in their own right.
Before (most of the kiddos) settled in to start snacking on their “purchases”, I showed them how their fruits and veggies made excellent painting tools. In the past, I have always used large stamp pads soaked with washable liquid watercolors for this activity. The results are beautifully detailed prints. This week, however, I mistakenly misplaced my stamp pads, so in a moment of semi-panic, decided to try an alternate version of this activity, simply dipping the cut produce directly into shallow pans filled with washable temperas. The kids responded so well, I decided to stick with this version in the rest of my classes.
They caught on quickly…
For many, the tactile experience of paint on fruit and paint on hands was a wide open invitation to dive right in to a full blown finger painting extravaganza.
The colors, shapes, and textures that emerged in their paintings were often messy, sometimes beautiful, and truly unique. Those are three of my favorite ingredients for what I would deem a successful art experience!
Truer words were never spoken here on the east coast today, as we brace for the worst of Hurricane Sandy, yet to come. The rain has been coming down steadily, the wind is picking up, and all the schools and government offices are closed. So much for our autumn project planned for the first half of this week, collages made from real leaves, inspired by Lois Ehlert’s Leaf Man.
Since I may not have the opportunity to blog about this project after all (the leaf piles and the leaf men hidden therein may all have blown away by the time all is said and done), I’m going to link you to an interview I did with one of my favorite bloggers, Jean Van’t Hul of The Artful Parent, so you can get to know a bit more about my background, the origins and philosophy of the ART IN HAND program, and art therapy in general. Here’s hoping we all get to keep our power on! (realistically speaking, that’s fairly unlikely in these parts in the next day or so…)
First we explored real leaves, which are all around us this time of year, and talked about some of the things a leaf can be…
Red, yellow, orange, brown, green, speckled, multi-colored, pointy, round, heart-shaped, crunchy, floppy…the list goes on. What a great opportunity for reinforcing concepts of color and shape and for vocabulary-building in general.
Then we read this lovely new book I discovered by Laura Purdie Salas, which desribes with gentle rhymes and watercolor illustrations by Violeta Dabija, some of the more obscure things that leaves can be…
“A tree topper, a rain stopper…A shade spiller, a mouth filler…a skin welter, a bat shelter…”
Then, with markers and oil pastels in hand, the kiddos had a go at designing their own leaves. They marked their various leaf-shaped papers (pre-cut by me out of coffee filters) with spots, scribbles and lines of all kinds and colors, and then witnessed the magic when liquid watercolors were painted on top of their marks. The marker designs, being water-based, spread and bled and changed, while the oil pastel designs remained intact as they resisted the water-based paint. In some classes, we even sprinkled salt on our painted leaves, a fun sensory experience which added another stunning element to the visual outcome of the paintings (note the speckling that occurs on these paintings). I especially love the independent mindedness of two year olds given the opportunity to control their own outcomes with materials, as illustrated by the artists who chose to add additional drawings and real leaves to their final collage, and the young man who proved that a leaf can even be…BLUE!
The most powerful tactic…to awaken the curiosity of a child…is simply to head for the hands.
– Frank Wilson (1998)
Nothing like baby animals to bring out the nurturing side in us humans, and toddlers and preschoolers are no exception. The essence of that nurturing spirit is captured literally and symbolically in the concept of the nest. And the act of nesting itself, creating a warm, protective environment in which a new life can grow and emerge enveloped by its parents and the safe haven they so carefully crafted, is truly captivating for young children, as they identify with the babies in the scenario and also get to try the parental role on for size.
Toddlers and preschoolers are natural collectors…
… and gluers…
And as you can see, highly invested in creating their own unique nests.
An ambitious five year old got busy with scissors to create his own chipmunk from construction paper and flower petals (for eyes) to live in his nest.
I just love these nests, and look forward to seeing them emerge each spring!
As we kick off another spring session, I wanted to share with you all an article I wrote for Washington Parent magazine a few years back. I hope it inspires you to make the most of the creative possibilities that surround your wherever you are.
We were on sick day number 4 over here today, and by this afternoon were hit hard with the boredom and crankiness that always seems to accompany that point in the recuperation when the sick kid has enough energy to be antsy, but still feels lousy enough to be irritable. Once again, the plaster casting material came to our rescue, when I was certain there would be no redeeming this gloomy afternoon.
I was immediately reminded of a phrase from a workshop I recently attended with Kirk Martin of Celebrate Calm: “Motion changes emotion.”
In other words, when your child is melting down, get him to a change of scenery, get him involved in doing something, don’t just stand there trying to talk him out of it.
Thankfully, in our case, the plaster material and my son’s earlier projects were still set up on the table on our enclosed porch (a nice sunny spot to work) for him to notice, which eliminated the need for me to suggest he work with the materials (I’m sure he would have said “NO!” to anything I suggested at that point). He has gone out there twice in the last few days to expand on his previous experiences with hand casting, and has had some fun getting more inventive and expressive!
Based on these recent positive experiences working with this medium, he was able to make the choice on his own to go for it this afternoon.
Within seconds, he shifted from, “I hate you! I hate everything!” to “Mom, stay here and do this with me.” And his energy immediately shifted from tense and agitated to calm and engaging. In my previous posts (like this one, and this one, and this one, and this one) I have spoken about the therapeutic impact of the sense of touch that is elicited through various art media. For my son and me, the process of casting each other’s hands in clay and in plaster, has become a valuable tool. My nine year old has discovered that he can use this process to bring about a sense of calm for himself, and it is also something that he can control and use to create a concrete and predictable outcome, which gives him a feeling of mastery and success. It is also a wonderful way for the two of us to connect.
And today, he took the process a step further with a new idea he came up with for decorating the extra thick cast that we had built around his hand. He used pipettes to squirt liquid watercolors on the cast, creating a colorful splattered effect. What a turnaround from gloom and doom to bright and fun and whimsical.
You don’t have to have complicated art materials at your disposal to apply these principals in your own home. Think about what hooks your child. It could be anything from building with legos, to playing with playdough, to tossing bean bags, to whipping up a recipe in the kitchen…anything that gets them moving and doing and using their senses while connecting with you in a relaxed and fun way. Over time these experiences help them learn that they can make choices to help calm themselves and learn self-control.