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Monday, February 20, 2012

Mix it Up!

Every teacher knows that children LOVE to mix paint.  You put out jars of paint, each with its own paintbrush, paper on the easel or table, explain to children how to use the paint.  And lo and behold when you come back, every paint jar is a hideous puke brown. A few years back (Ok, when I became more inspired by the Reggio Approach), I went to a workshop where I was informed on how to teach children to care for paint.  Tell them they are an artist.  Whoa, what an idea! Think about an artist- Van Gogh or Matisse will do.  Did they have 700 jars of paint each containing one paint brush? No! They had a jar of various sized paint brushes, a container of water, and a towel to dry the brush off.  Along with several tubes of paint.  Well, the tubes of paint may not work well with 3 year olds but you can show them this technique- paint, swish (in water container), and dry.  It takes time but so worth the effort.  When children have a choice in the size of paintbrushes, you'll be amazed at what they can paint.  Try it :)

Select color
Clean and Dry
(repeat process)
Now try this... going back to the child's love of mixing paint.  The other day in our class, children created their own shade or tint of blue.  Each child requested a certain amount of blue paint, black paint and white (I let them choose between 1-5 teaspoons of blue).  It surprised my at how each child requested a different ratio, even if they were sitting next to each other! For instance, one child chose 3 scoops of blue and 3 scoops of white.  Another child, 5 scoops of blue, 3 scoops of white and 4 scoops of black.  Since this was the first experience, I put the colors into the jars but gave them a paint brush to mix the color.  After each child (or whoever showed an interest) created a color, they then named the color.  Children were so creative, some names were: Poisonous, Bella, Yes and one was even named after another child whose favorite color is blue.  A few children just couldn't think of a name and that was fine also.  We took whatever they said, IDK (aka I Don't Know) and I Can't Think of a Name.  Both of the children still felt accepted and were so happy with the names they chose.

Now you may be thinking, "Why does each jar (in the first photo) have its own paintbrush when she just said have a jar of paintbrushes?"  These were right after each child mixed their colors.  You may have also noticed that the jars are baby food jars.  What?! Glass in the classroom?!  Lol, yes, we use real glass in the classroom.  Yes, jars have dropped, the children know to stand back while we clean it up but truthfully we feel that the children are capable in handling this material.  And they do. In the past 5 years where I have been using glass in the classroom, I've only lost 3 jars and that was mainly because they slipped out of my hand during cleaning.  

If you try this in your class let me know how it goes and if you (or the children) come up with any other ideas.  Enjoy!

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