People ask me quite often why it is that I became a teacher. I have several different answers, all of which are an aspect of the truth, and most of which pivot upon the idea that I've never cared what I did professionally, just so long as I got to be surrounded by brilliant minds, and there are none more brilliant than those of young children.
Deep down, however, in the recesses of truth that I only occasionally allow to bubble to the surface, the real reason is that I want to play with their toys, and none more so than foam paint. Essentially, it's colored shaving cream, which the 3-5's can mix-up for themselves (for much less, I might add), but with the benefit of it not stinging the eyes when it inevitably goes there. That's why I buy it exclusively for use by the Pre-3 class, because every time I've ever tried shaving cream with 2-year-olds (and it's only happened twice) I wind up with a classroom full of weeping children who need their eyes flushed with water.
Typically, only 4-5 of the 20 or so kids in the class intentionally allow the stuff to touch their actual hands, however, and maybe another 4-5 are willing to touch it with the various "tools" we make available for manipulating the stuff. The rest have a tendency to either ignore it entirely, or hover around the edges, watching, but refusing all invitations to belly up to the table.
Ah, but this year's crop of 2-year-olds is asserting its uniqueness early. From the very start they kept Suriya's mom Aya busy re-charging their trays with more and more paint to mash and mix. That's the art form as we do it at Woodland Park. I always have paper handy, just in case someone wants to try making a print of their rainbow mess, but what you see here in the pictures are finished works. Usually we don't even wipe off the trays between artists.
Check out that little green hand in the upper right corner of this picture!
Most of the kids started with a tool of some sort, but very quickly ditched them in favor of fingers, hands, and even arms, to swirl and blend the colorful mess in front of them. There's not usually much talk amongst 2-year-olds, so there's plenty of empty aural space in which adults can judiciously drop descriptive and informative statements about what we see happening, providing vocabulary, adding perspective, and giving evidence that what they are doing is being noticed, without taking over the project with our adult directions, questions, or small talk.
It's early in the school year and our team of parent-teachers is still learning
the ropes, but I love how much physical space the kids have here, with adults
present, but staying on the periphery.
Most years, I spend a lot of time with my own hands in the paint, working to lure more children into the activity, but they didn't need me. The table was pretty much slammed throughout the morning, leaving little space for Teacher Tom, who very much wanted to play with the foam paint. Fortunately, there will be a next time.