Sunday, February 26, 2012

Art Therapy

There was nothing "special" on the art table. By that I mean nothing fancy, no elaborate process or exploration I hoped the kids would undertake, no agenda of mine floating around behind it all, which is usually for the best. Let the kids come and find ink pads and stampers and various kinds of paper, including some construction paper blank books left over from something we'd done several weeks ago.

Often I'll try to start things off by giving the art parent some basic instructions, usually in the form of how I would do it if I were responsible for the station, which I'm not, but I think some of them like a little guidance. In this case, I'd started things off with the blank books and some run-of-the-mill stampers. Up on the shelf, to bring out later, were some "add ons" like larger paper, some big "roller" stampers that would allow the kids to use their full bodies to walk off strings of stamped impressions several feet long, and some of those heavy duty work-world stampers like librarians used to use to imprint return dates on library books. Cu-chunk!

The latter are a bit of a challenge for young children to use, requiring a great deal of force to get the self-inking mechanism to perform its 180 degree flip. In fact, I've never seen a kid manage it without both hands and laying into it with at least some of her body weight.

But today one of our friends arrived in class feeling surly. Her mom only had guesses about why she was out of sorts; just one of those days. I tried, but she either didn't want to or couldn't talk about it. I know the feeling: sometimes it just fills you up and the best course of action is for those around you to make themselves scarce. There was a lot of crabbing and on-the-edge of melt-down discontent until these big stampers came out.

Once she got going there was no stopping her. She was banging that thing down, one-handed, just like the librarians used to do. Bam! Bam! Bam! The rest of us left her an end of the table to herself. Bam! Bam! Bam! The sound of her stamping filled the classroom for a good 10 minutes, ink (really liquid water color) spattering her clothes, her face; that bottle of unnamed, sourceless anger venting with each powerful bang of the stamper.

She stamped until the paper was torn right though. She tossed it to the floor. She did it again and again. Then she was done and crabby no more.

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Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

Wow, this small child certainly did make good use of this stamper, and pad!
A good lesson for how we might all benefit from art therapy!

stephanieleah said...

I have to second Brenda's comment. A good lesson for how we would all benefit...and a good lesson for how sometimes children's banging around is a necessary (and often short-lived) necessity for release.

wondersofnature said...

It can be almost scary watching a child vent their frustration in this way. You worry for the child that it stays safe and I've been in situations where you can feel judged as an an adult for allowing a child to 'act out' in such a way. But it goes to show that if we can trust and support a child they will let you know what they need to feel better.

Kristi Jackson said...

Dear, Mr. Hobson (Teacher Tom)
Teacher Tom first of all, I would like to compliment you on your wonderful and graphic pictures. They were quite appealing because they displayed vividly your creativity, the students' expressions, and how well they responded to that particular activity. Furthermore, my name is Kristi Jackson. I am a student at the University of South Alabama, my major is elementary education, and I actually saw in your photos how you carefully picked ideal scraps for the kids to make beautiful art (astonishing). I thought that your lesson was a success, totally! The kids appeared as if they improvised well. That is a great idea to basically assign dependable adults to monitor specific station through out the day. This way I'm sure, you increase one on one time with individual students, as well as observe better. Mr. Hobson, you mentioned one student who touched me, I believe she received the most from this activity than any one. Overall, I absolutely loved this activity because you helped your students in various ways with one activity, in which you clearly illustrated.
Thanks for your time,
Kristi L. Jackson

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