Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Swear the Paint is Washable...I Think!

Bubble Paper Mitten Print
 Famous last words of the early childhood's washable paint.  You usually say this in response to a parent's statement of, "She's wearing a new Gymboree outfit...don't let her get messy today."  When I hear those things from a parent I want to run straight to that child's cubby and immediately put them in their extra set of clothes so as not to soil the "good" clothes.  Yeah, yeah...we have aprons and smocks to protect the kids from paint and other messes...but truthfully we forget to pass them out until the kids are elbow deep in fingerpaint.  And the aprons...well kids tend to get messes under them for some reason and the apron kind of seals in the mess.  I have added liquid soap to my tempera paint in an effort to make it more washable but let's face it...there are certain colors of tempera that stick more than and purple are the worst.  I remember being in a classroom where a teacher was using wet wipes trying to remove the color from a little blonde boys buzz cut...he decided to explore the paint as if it were shampoo...probably felt pretty cool.

Today in my curriculum class we had our "Art Exploration Day".  For the entire session they were able to take their time exploring different art materials.  They were reminded that it was all about the process and that there was not a set "picture" to produce...I must say it was a relaxing and enjoyable hour...we even streamed in children's music while we "worked". 

As I would with little kids I gave a few instructions that helped keep them safe...from burns and cross contamination of germs (you'll understand this later).  They were told that they could use as much of the materials as they needed or wanted...I even had to make a run to our preschool classroom to get more butcher paper.  I had supplies in place in case of a mess...which is what scares some people about working with young children...and paint...and glue...and that dreaded STD of the art world...glitter!

Here are the stations that were set up:
    Pop Art in Action
  1. Pop Art--for this you need cups of soapy water with different liquid watercolor (or any thinned paint--food coloring stains and should be avoided)...a package of straws...white construction paper...and a trash can.  The object of this is to blow through your own clean straw (germ cross contamination alert) into the soapy colored water mixture until your bubbles come up over the rim of the cup.  At this point you remove the straw and place your paper over the bubbles...popping the bubbles which leave splattered bubble prints on the paper...pretty nifty!  Some cool science concepts here--force of air, color mixing, bubble chemistry, and so on.  If you have a child like my little Elizabeth who confused sucking with can poke a few pin holes in the straw near the blowing end to prevent sucking it up and drinking soapy colored water.
    Hard at work sculpting!
  3. Model Magic Sculpting--this isn't overly messy but super fun.  I used to make all kinds of doughs and clays for my kiddos to sculpt things out of...but when Model Magic came out it just added a new dimension to preschool sculptures.  And no I am not a paid spokesperson for Crayola's Model Magic.  Today the girls were given real sculpting tools and allowed to create any 3 dimensional piece that struck their mind...the pieces are now drying in my office.  If you are not familiar with Model Magic it hardens to the consistency of a dried marshmallow.
    Working on warming tray.
  5. Crayons on the Warming Tray--What a cool way to see the effects of heat on wax!  For this I use a warming tray, paper, hot pads, and a remnant box of crayons--preferably naked know with the paper peeled off.  When I do this with kids adult supervision is necessary the whole time...but with my big girls they were on their own.  It is such a cool feeling to draw and feel the wax melt into the paper.  This is usually the most popular station during Art Exploration Day.  Glitter and metallic crayons are the crayons melt really will get a slight burning smell but nothing too horrible.  These can be hung in windows because they almost become transparent.
    Ice cube painting
  7. Ice Cube Painting--Another favorite...simply freeze colored water (again, thinned paint or watercolor is less scary than food coloring) in an ice cube tray with popsicle a popsicle...just don't eat them!  The kids simply choose a "pop" and paint on their paper with it.  Absorbent paper works the best for this...we used newsprint and the water pooled a little today.  Great science concepts with the properties of water here!
    Bubble Paper Mitten finished paper.
  9. Bubble Paper Mitten Painting--For this one you have to get some bubble paper and make mittens...just a rectangle piece folded over big enough to slide your hand in...tape it shut so that there is only one opening and turn it so the "bubbles" are on the outside.  Plates with tempera paint are provided and the artists simply choose a color, dip their mitt, and basically pat large sheets of butcher paper.  The color combinations are always interesting especially when the colors start blending and are layered.  The finished sheets can be cut into different shapes kind of in the style of Eric Carle's creations.
    Working on Tissue Paper Suncatchers.
  11. Tissue Paper Suncatchers--this is the easiest and less messy of all the activities.  Cut contact paper in a workable size and provide a variety of tissue paper, sequins, or any other collage "junk".  This is great practice for kids in tearing or cutting when they choose their different colors of tissue.  The kids just add their colored tissue and items to the sticky side of the contact paper...these can be stuck directly to a window when they are finished or another piece of contact paper or colored paper can be added to seal off the piece of art. 

Finished warming tray product

The activities were shared with my class because they are a little different but not too scary messy.  These activities can be done by an individual or small groups of kids.  The materials needed are not hard to come by...the warming tray is the trickiest...I borrow my sister's each time I plan this activity.  I hope that my students see the possibilities that await in these different activities.  I hope it sparks them to try something a little messy...I remembered to bring up wipes, paper towels, and we had newspapers under the drippy items to model the teacher's role.


  1. Wow - I am super excited to follow your blog!! Thanks for sharing on Facebook and I have it added to my reader so I can follow along!!

  2. I will NEVER forgot doing bubble painting with a group of Head Start kiddos before. D.J. got some of the very green soapy water in his mouth. Needless to say he has a green mouth the rest of the day, BUT is was fun!!! AND I learned to poke holes in the straw!!!