While reading Swimmy By Leo Lionni we were inspired to make our own lovely pictures. Line of symmetry is often seen in the story, so we picked three colors that reminded us of the ocean.
At first painting on the paper was very light, almost a hesitation as to where to put the paint, but as this child proceeded a lovely and creative picture emerged. I did role model this lesson instead of leaving it out as a provocation. Since line of symmetry is a new concept to young minds that have not experienced this before, it is perfectly fine to model.
I was truly amazed at how quickly my student took to this lesson. The steps I modeled were repeated almost exactly. Where it changed was even better! Once this child painted, folded, smoothed and opened the paper and expressed happy surprise, more paint was then added and the paper was refolded and smoothed and opened! This process was repeated about two more times after this. I love how young minds take what we offer and use their own cognitive abilities to extend the learning. This student understood the concept and broke down the barrier of only painting once and folding. Repeating the steps allowed a far more creative and complex piece of artwork to emerge. Three year old minds are very intelligent and capable of many things if only allowed and given time to explore their own ideas!
Later in the morning this same child decided to try the line of symmetry technique with ink instead of paint. The paper was already folded from the painting lesson, so the child immediately wrote on either side of the line down the center. When finished a line was traced following the fold in the paper. The paper was then folded shut, smoothed and reopened with a surprised exclamation from the child! Now this child already proved understanding by the painting down above, so transferring the same information newly learned to another content area is excellent! This child knew full well that the ink is not like paint and that is why both sides of the line were drawn on. One of the fascinating things for me to see was the reaction was complete role-play or acting! Pretending to be surprised at what was created was just precious!
Art and Literacy are individual content areas of study. These two contents are often paired together for learning, however the great part about this was that not only did an art form transfer to another content area so easily, but in a different part of the classroom. Our brains learn concepts in multiple ways and pathways are extended and formed when we move around the room and face different directions when learning new things. Even taking a new concept and trying it out at home, in the park anywhere else is a good sign learning for understanding is taking place. Needless to say I was very excited to witness this spontaneous display of understanding! I say spontaneous because we moved on to other things quickly after this. Did I mention three year old children have a ton of energy!! 🙂
Heidi Scott, BA & MIT
The Marigold School of Early Learning! 🙂
Painting is one of the most popular learning experiences in preschool. Not only because it is a sensory experience, but it is color exploration, symbolic, can be inspiration for creative stories, and is open for endless creativity no matter what developmental level a child is at on the continuum. A stencil can come in handy not just for drawing/ tracing, but for painting too. Using recyclable materials is not only cost effective in a preschool program, but it teaches young children how we can use something that may often just be put in a recycle bin and hauled away when pick up day comes. Below I decided to see if this would be a good provocation and I was pleasantly surprised.
I gave the choice of nine different color options for painting and set this up to see if there was interest. Sometimes when something new or different is put out as a provocation children may not take to it right away, and sometimes they take to it immediately. I never know how a provocation will unfold, yet I never give up on trying to insight inquiry and creativity. At first this child was very careful and painted lightly and only on the the red lines of the stencil and not in the circles. I found this to be interesting. I have often observed children painting all over with no hesitation, so this was new to me. I decided after watching for a while to go ahead and role model painting within the circles. I only did this briefly and that was enough to encourage this child to give it a try too.
As a result the main colors were ones in association with the color of the stencil, which again shows the attention to detail this child has. And she was inspired by the red color of the stencil to stay within the warmer shades of paint colors. She went from red, orange, yellow, cream to white. Surprise was a happy reaction when the stencil was lifted off. After this child finished examining her paper she decided that one green dot was needed before she continued to add more and more color to her paper and totally transforming what it was to start with.
As a Teacher I would have liked the painting to have stayed the way it was above simply because I liked how the color progressed from dark to light in the warm side of the color spectrum. However, young children have their own interpretations of their artwork and their own plans. With painting the plans emerge as the child continues to explore this wonderful tactile sensation and color exploration. As more paint was added colors were mixed and discovered and finally the desire to touch the wet paint came into being. One finger first touched the paint and then a few more and scratching the paint came to this child’s mind. By scratching the paint colors that were first layd down now reappeared, yet that was not the focal point of this child’s observation. The look of the scratch marks was a reminder of how a cat’s claw scratches. So thoughts about cats came to her mind and we discussed cats and of course as many young children enjoy role playing as, she transformed herself into a kitty-cat for a little while. 🙂
Heidi Scott, BA & MIT
The Marigold School of Early Learning
Please share and comment if you’ve set up similar provocations for your preschool students. I would love to read all about them! 🙂
This child is three and a half and found that after examining her face she needed to trace the mirror she had been using. She has been exploring the shape of a circle and the concept of “round”. This is another extension to her first inquiry. Every time this child explores the concept of “round” she does so in a way that is tactile and concrete. Building her understanding by using her senses. Next her hand is traced. And I did not inspire these learning experiences. This child wanted to paint so we set it up and away she went with her own ideas.
This child is in between the early literacy stage of scribbles to symbolic representation of objects, thoughts and ideas. Literacy development takes years and is not a process to be rushed or forced. As a Teacher it is my job to create and set up an environment that allows children to naturally engage in ways to express themselves. Allowing the developmental process of learning to happen through “play”. I can add, extend and dialogue with each child to find where he/ she is on the literacy and artistic journey.
Going back and forth between the scribble stage and symbolic representation is normal development and is a process we do not need to rush. I love to observe, listen and question to find out how to add more challenging materials and curriculum that supports the early literacy and artistic development emerging before my eyes. The letter “K” and “I” are represented above. This did not happen due to my influence though, it happened out of pure chance. And this child took time to really examine what she had created. I did not comment for fear she was not ready for these symbols to have meaning. If by chance she wasn’t ready, they would soon be covered up with more paint. So be careful about commenting on a child’s work. We want to respect their free expression without our bias.
Play-dough is a staple in most early learning programs due to the fact that is is a wonderful open-ended way for young children to develop eye-hand coordination, strengthen fine motor skills and be as creative as they want! You don’t have to provide cookie cutters for perfect pictures in the dough. Allow children to form their own expectations with objects you may not normally think of to use. Incorporate colors so children continue to explore and discover not only real world shapes, but real world colors. We don’t always have to add traditional boxed curriculum ideas. Break down barriers on how to learn and allow the natural scientist to emerge! 🙂
By only placing primary colors on the table at first, this child created green and purple was next! The look of pure joy and discovery on this child’s face made me so happy! Her art work is so creative, and again is showing the transition from scribble to symbolic representation.
Scribble writing can be a fascinating process of literacy development to observe and be a part of . The attention to detail this child gives is a sign of internal interest. Exploring writing in a way that she interprets at a young age, then exploring shapes through her scribbles and even taking time to feel the rolling motion of colored pencils all support and extend this child’s beginning writing and artistic talents. And along the way she is gaining understanding of shapes and colors too. Learning does not stop at one content area. Learning is fluid and interacts to enable children to tap into a world of knowledge as they grow and discover.
Support your child’s need to learn by enrolling them in a quality preschool program. And do some research to find out what theories are being implemented in the programs you are looking at. Do not just go by a worksheet and primary colors. Really take the time to learn about early learning theories and the ones that resonate most with your outlook on life.
Heidi Scott, BA & MIT
The Marigold School of Early Learning! 🙂