Wednesday, October 05, 2011

How About More Ice Cream?

Here's a rule of thumb: if you're doing it right, every 2-year-old art project involving paint, winds up as finger painting. I sometimes forget to tell our parent-teachers this and instead of seeing it as a sign of success, they're worried somehow that they've failed, looking sheepishly at me as I wander by, saying something like, "I'm sorry, but it just happened."

The idea for this project is to stick a piece of paper inside the coffee can, spoon in some marbles that have been sitting in paint, put the lid on, then shake and roll the can for anywhere from 2 seconds to forever. These produce the kind of accidental art that cause parents to remark, as Audrey's mom Jaimee did yesterday, "I might have to frame some of these."

For their part, however, the children, especially 2-year-olds, are largely uninterested in what's on the paper at the end of their process, usually staring at it as if you're showing them the napkin you used to wipe their face after eating a sundae. Yeah, I made that, but how about more ice cream?

Said "ice cream" being to spoon as many paint-covered marbles as possible into your can. 

Putting the lid on. Shaking it; rolling it. Taking the lid off. 

I value allowing children to struggle with things, often urging parent-teachers to help the
children less. When this photo first came off of my camera, I was slightly annoyed to see
that adult hand holding the can while she tried to pull of the lid. Then I took a closer look
and realized it was my hand. I don't even remember doing it. It's amazing how much we 
have to concentrate in order to avoid over-helping these perfectly competent human beings.

Dumping the marbles out. Looking inside. Asking for more paint. More marbles. Always forgetting about the paper . . .

. . . and, naturally, perhaps a little trepidatiously at first . . .

. . . turning it into finger painting.


Now that's suitable for framing! . . . Ah! One got away!

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Cave Momma said...

I have never done marble painting this way but I will next time. We usually use the box method. And yes, it always turns into finger/body painting. My daughter is a full body painter. lol

Lisa said...

I love that it was your hand and your comment that followed. I have to stop myself so many times during the day and I'm sure there are many more times that I don't stop myself. This is a wonderful idea. I'll have to put this in front of the toddlers who let me hang out with them.

Shelley @Little Explorers said...

We used acorns for the same thing last week. And, now that you mention it, I did help a lot more than I probably should have. And I have been lecturing my staff about this very thing!

Little Wonders' Days said...

The process of this art sounds like a lot of fun. I agree with you about letting kids struggle to succeed and stepping in less. It is hard to watch them struggle sometimes, but the day they finally succeed it's so wonderful.

janetlansbury said...

This is perfect, Teacher Tom. I especially love your "confession" about the unconscious helping. It's so wired into us, isn't it? Certainly not a BAD impulse, but interesting.

"How about more ice cream?" reminds me of an enlightening experience an associate shared from her years as a preschool teacher. She asked a child, "What are you painting?" And he answered, "paper".

Lisa Sunbury said...

This is wonderful. Of course, I think everything you write is wonderful, but that's because you just "get it"- about children, and how they learn, and what's important.

I also appreciate your self reflection. It is just so darn easy to fall into "helping" behavior without realizing it. For me it's a constant process of forgetting or acting unconsciously, and then remembering again. (What I appreciate about toddlers is that if I forget, they are often very good at helping me to remember how competent they are- "I do it myself!")

And about the marble painting- what a perfect "art project" for toddlers. For them it's all about the process, never about the product. I was explaining this to a colleague this past weekend when she was asking me about appropriate art projects for toddlers. I said I thought the opportunity to "mess around" with the materials was the most important aspect of providing "art" experiences for toddlers.
Thanks for a great example!

MarciaMichele said...

I actually clicked here to write a comment for the first time, after about a year of following your blog, because I wanted to comment on your realization that YOU were the adult helping, it just made me smile! I was also delighted to read that many of us enjoyed reading about this same thing....maybe it's like a child hearing from an adult, "I've made a mistake." and loving it...because, we are afterall, only human! ;-)