Sunday, September 26, 2010

Foam Paint

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.

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Deborah said...

I love the use of the trays as a canvas for the activity and the foam paint sounds marvelous!

Deborah said...

Oh - and I LOVE the use of descriptive conversations by adults as the children are engaged in their activity - such a wonderful teaching practice!!

Marla McLean, Atelierista said...

Between the mud baths at Let the Children Play, and foam painting with Teacher Tom, I am feeling the urge to jump through the computer and join in!
Activating the senses is glorious.

Unknown said...

I really love 2 year olds! Such a fun age.

Centers and Circle Time said...

My Mom once told my daughter about me and my chosen profession, "I wanted so much for her" my daughter told her..."if playing in playdoh and finger painting all day makes her happy that's exactly what she should do! I raised a pretty bright girl:) That left my MOM speechless. lol...well, I'm off to plan something extraordinary, hope they leave room for me!

Happy Foam Painting!

Ms. Erin's HeartRoom said...

You know, along the same vein, I found by the end of the week of Oobleck, my assistant and I were the only ones playing with it.
You know its bad when you play with messy stuff more than the children!

Tracy said...

It's so interesting how different groups of kids like different things. One year something is popular, the next year no-one wants a turn at all. Shaving cream is a big fave here, we even used it with the babies. I don't remember the weeping eyes... maybe our brands are more fluff less soap? Anyway, it's on my shopping list again, but I'm wondering about the foam paint. We've mixed paint with shaving cream before, but I'm wondering if pre mixed would give them more control over the experience....