Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another Snap Painting Failure


Earlier this month I started to write a post about "snap painting," but the children grew quickly bored and/or frustrated and turned it into a pirate ship painting party. In fact, ever since that day whenever there is black paint outside, the boat's exterior gets a further touch-up, although the interior has remained clean.

So while boat painting has been on the children's minds, snap painting has remained on mine. It is just too good a concept to let drop: painting rubber bands then snapping them on paper to create these cool, spidery, freckly splats.



I was working on the theory that I'd made this simple concept too complicated the first time. Not only did the kids have to paint the rubber bands, a challenging target, but then hold the entire frame down with one hand while pulling up on the rubber band with the other. Then, as a reward, they received a backspatter of tempera paint in the face. Is it any wonder that most of the kids only gave it a single go before wanting to do something else?

I sought to eliminate the "holding the frame down problem" by building larger PVC frames that hooked under the bottom of the work bench on either side, which would allow the kids to stretch the bands as far as they wanted without lifting the entire apparatus.


I designed them to be a little bit loose so that as the paper got filled with paint, an adult could carefully move the frame to unpainted parts of the the paper, hopefully without smearing what we'd already done. I even provided milk crates and step ladders for the kids to stand on when they wanted to reach the middle of the table.


I was imagining that when we covered the entire sheet of dark blue paper with white dots and squiggles, it would look like a starry night, an appropriate image for us to consider during the run-up to the long night of the winter solstice. And, in all honesty, I thought by limiting the paint selection to white (pirate ships, I'm told, are "black"), I'd avoid having it turn into just another boat painting extravaganza. I really wanted to give snap painting a fair chance.

To address the "face full of paint" issue we got out our safety glasses.


So now it would just be about painting those rubber bands and snapping them. Of course, if you look closely at the photos, you'll see that kids lost patience with the process almost immediately, and while there was a little more snap experimentation than the last time, the frames and rubber bands were really just in the way of a painting project.

After about 20 minutes, we got the frames out of their way.


Darn it! I'm still not ready to give up on snap painting, there is a good idea here, but we just haven't figured out the execution. 

The reliance on paint brushes is part of the problem. It's too tempting to just use them to apply the paint directly to the paper without hassling with the intermediary of a rubber band . . .

But I'm also starting to think it's too much of a one trick pony -- one or two snaps and you're done. Maybe there needs to be more to it, like a target . . .

Or maybe I still need to work on the frames. Of course, I'm already imagining a giant one involving massive amounts of paint and butcher paper on a wall some feet away, kind of like a huge paint slingshot. If we can make an "everyone clear out event" from each snap it could be a blast . . .

Or, going the other direction, maybe we need smaller, hand-sized frames so the kids can move them around easily and quickly on their own, letting them "dip" their rubber bands in paint rather than painting them . . .

And thinking about the back splash issue, maybe we need to be doing this in Halloween masks . . .

So far I've failed to succeed, but that's how we learn.


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12 comments:

Scott said...

Tom, I agree that snap painting is a great idea. Keep plugging away. You're learning in the best... preschool friendly...way - experiment, fail, experiment, fail, adjust, fail....

You've inspired me to think on it, too. Hmmm.

child central station said...

I love your determination. I think that both going big and small could potentially work. Often, it all depends on how the day is going and the group of children you have. Did you happen to include them in on the brainstorming? What do they like about it? How could you as a team design the project so that it would be more enjoyable for them?
What If the rubber bands were connected to a sheet of plexiglass with a knob on it? Then they could still see the bands, but it would stop the spray and you could pull multiple bands at one time? I bet if the children became engaged in creating the contraptions and coming up with other ways to make it fun and more their own, you may get more interest.... What about a vertical frame? So many options..... I love reading about all of your attempts :).

child central station said...

I just had another thought- mini paint rollers may also be easier and more intriguing than brushes.....

Barbara Zaborowski said...

Love the idea of the Halloween masks--fun in and of themselves.

Lots of Fun with My FaMiLy said...

what if you tried a slingshot type mechanism? If the kids had a smaller device that they could just dip into paint and then snap they may find it a little easier to manipulate & less frustrating.

Kristi@Creative Connections for Kids said...

Thanks for sharing the challenges as well as the success. I'm going to have to think about this. There has got to be way! Hmmm...

Teacher Tom said...

Great ideas so far! I'm definitely going to try the plexiglas concept -- seems like it will be good and noisy too! And I'm really high on the slingshot idea.

Keep em coming. I think I will get the kids involved and we'll just experiment with everything all on one day. That should be crazy fun!

MOM #1 said...

I think it's hilarious that you're so dedicated to the snap painting. Good luck getting the kids to enjoy it as well, LOL.

Sherry and Donna said...

Bloody brilliant idea Tom! Maybe you need to introduce some colour to the snap painting, then again you could always try filling ballons with paint and hurling them at a wall OR pinning the paint filled balloons to the wall and hurling darts at them ... very Pro Hart indeed!
Donna :) :)

Chck this out Tom. I reckon you and 'Pro Hart' come from the same mould! :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qb4n8yc2so

Heidi Butkus said...

Love your determination and willingness to let them make a BIG, GIANT, MESS!!!! :)
Have you thought about this? The practical side of me was considering that perhaps if you simply don't give them any paint brushes, they will have to use the mediums you give them, which are the rubber bands. They can smear the paint on the rubber bands with their hands and then snap them. You may wind up with finger painting, but at least you won't have more paint brushed artwork.
Also, maybe you could put a piece of paper inside a box and wrap one of those very large rubber bands and around it? Then they could snap the bands until they think they are done and then pull the paper out. Make a collage of the different papers, and there you have it!
Nice work, Teacher Tom!
:)
Heidi Butkus from heidisongs.com

Maureen said...

We haven't attempted snap painting since the first time we tried it. But you've got me thinking of changing the frame - how about using a badminton racket with out the strings. The rubber bands are wrapped around and they can dip the whole thing into the paint then snap or flick.

Anonymous said...

Hi, a possible extension to the sling shot idea could be sliding objects onto the bands prior to fitting them on the frames, offering a mix of filled & empty bands for painty pinging. Would the children be interested in threading foam rollers, jingle bells, wooden beads, hole punched card or foam star shapes for a night sky - the larger the cut of these maybe causing less face felt back splatter?

Taking the opportunity to add a big thank you for such a great blog :)

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