Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Paint Walking

It seems like every year we wind up with an extra gallon of one color of tempera paint or another. This year it's blue. (It does seem like we've had a sort of warm colors year.) This has lead to the invention of paint walking, something of a spring tradition here at Woodland Park. And yes, we do it inside.

It's just what it looks and sounds like. We flip the art table, roll out butcher paper to form a kind of track, set out a tub of paint and go.

I like the way she's contemplating it as if it's a bed of hot coals.

I start them out on the underside of the table because it can get pretty slippery and the table legs and chair backs give them something to hold onto. An adult's available for hand holding if they prefer, but I like them to figure it out for themselves.

At the end of the table there, you'll see a foot washing station.

Some of the kids like dipping their feet in the wash-up
water, then using the extra moisture to paint with their feet.

The kids who aren't ready to wash up, just continue around the chairs, back to the tub of paint.

Some years the kids have sat in these chairs, side-by-side
with their painty feet making swirls and splats, but it
never materialized during this session of paint walking.

We try to avoid two-way traffic but sometimes it just happens.

When the paper got too blue to see individual footprints, we laid out another strip.

The 3-5's class managed this pretty much on their own with relatively little adult assistance, even with shoes and washing-up (although I'm guessing many of their parents were shocked to find a strange blue fungus growing between their children's toes when they got home). Only two of us went home with painty bums. I'm guessing Alex got overconfident because I think of her as having a superior sense of balance. On one of our city bus field trips earlier this year, for instance, she wanted to try "surfing" on the bus (her father Jon is a board sports guy) and she rode it like a wave. She bounced right back up out of the paint, looking more irritated at herself than injured. I got a heavy dose of paint across my own backside during the Pre-3 class, when I stupidly sat on my knees, atop my feet, after insufficiently wiping the paint off. I couldn't sit until it dried, which is good for my health, right?

Naturally, the Pre-3 class needed more help, so we assigned two parents to manage the station. The odd thing was that not a single boy tried it out. Not all of the girls did either, but of the dozen or so who put time into this sensory and large motor experience, not a single one was a boy, in spite of my best efforts. I've often noted that if a kid is going to object to "getting messy" it will be a 2-year-old, but most (not all) grow out of it as a 3 and 4-year-old. I'm wondering if this gender difference has something to do with the fact that girls tend to achieve certain developmental stages sooner than boys. Or maybe it just had to do with the fact that our big wooden trucks were out in the block area.

A few years ago, we had two extra gallons of red paint, so instead of paper on the underside of the table, we filled it with paint, laid a balance beam across it and challenged the children to cross without falling into the "hot lava." It didn't take the kids long to figure out that falling into the lava is where the real fun is. If you think this looks messy, you should have seen the clean up on that one!
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Unknown said...

Oh my goodness. This sounds like the most fantastically fun thing to do. Man, I want to be in your class!

Floor Pie said...

I heard all about this yesterday! Even though Little Girl didn't do it herself ("It was too messy for my feet!"), she was still really excited that it was happening in the class and told me all the details.

Ms Debbie said...

Oh my. Every time I stop in you amaze me with your bravery. :)

Anonymous said...

This makes me want to take off my own shoes and socks! LOL! Plus I totally love the chairs with numbers on them, did you decorate them yourselves?

Play for Life said...

We do this OUTSIDE on the concrete path. It really is a new sensation for so many of the children but once they get over the unusual feeling of paint squelching between their toes there's no stopping them!
Donna :) :)

pamela Wallberg said...

Back in the day when i worked with preteens, we would have jello pools (mr turtle pools filled with jello) ...not unlike your lava pool. what fun!

(although, around the same time, I also did the McBlender - blending up happy meals to demonstrate what they would look like and taste like if you could be inside your stomach...not everything I did with preteens was a good idea...)

Unknown said...

You know how much I love your messy projects, Tom! I like this one...I may incorporate it into my beach theme this summer. :) As always, thank you for the messy ideas! :)

Emily B said...

Awesome idea! I love the hypothesis on gender differences in enjoying messiness! Would be very interesting to test this and find out!

Deborah Stewart said...

I did this before and the kids loved it! I love all the little footprints - looks like a wonderful mess:)

Shara: Mommy Perks said...

Super fun. My kids LOVE making messes and using paint!

Centers and Circle Time said...

Simply Love it:)