Painting is a weekly activity in Kindergarten. The main aim of this activity is to allow the time and space for the children to experience and experiment with colour.
We encourage children to always give their very best in all that they do and honour this effort and their innate creativity by providing high quality (artist grade) natural materials.
The preparation for this activity is as important as the outcome and is something the older children love to be involved with. They become immersed in the process of preparing the paints and setting out the painting boards, and will imitate the mood of the activity as they help us with this practical preparation.
Before we begin, the paper is soaked in a large tray. Painting on wet paper allows for the fluid mixing and movement as the colours bleed from one into the other, seeming to take on a life of their own - creating a developing relationship between the colours as they interact on the page.
Each child’s place is prepared with pots of colour, a pot of water, a brush and an apron. The children will come to the table and wait patiently for their paper, when all is ready we will sing a song together to set the mood and indicate that we are ready.
There’s a bridge of wondrous light,
Filled with colours shining bright:
Red and orange, yellow and green,
The fairest colours ever seen.
Blue and violet, magic rose:
Down from heaven to earth it goes.
The colours we choose reflect the seasons, so we work with yellow and red in the autumn, blue for advent, red and blue for epiphany, yellow and green in spring and all three colours in the summer, reflecting the abundance of colour all around us at that time. The simple choice of colour allows the children to experience how the paints move and mix on the paper, naturally producing the secondary colours. It is a magical experience for them and we often hear them calling out with glee “I’ve made green” or “My water has turned purple”. They become fully immersed in this artistic and scientific process and make important observations and discoveries.
When the whole paper is covered and the colours shine on the paper the children feel a great sense of satisfaction that then flows into their play and interactions with each other.
In winter, if there is a hoar frost, we take our paintings on their wooden boards outside and leave them for some time. When we go back later, and if we are lucky, we will see how Jack Frost has printed on our paintings. It is interesting how the printing is stronger on the cold colours, dark red, purple and blue. He seems to find it hard to print on yellow and orange.
When we draw in the Kindergarten we use natural beeswax blocks and stick crayons. These beautiful crayons have clear jewel like colours which can be layered one upon another to create different colours, shades and hues. As with the painting, the children discover and observe these changes and through this, they begin to develop a solid knowledge of colour and how it works.
Each age group has a different experience when painting and drawing. The older children have an idea of what they want to create before they begin. The youngest children are quite content to move their brush up and down, sometimes using only one colour. They all become quietly engaged in either activity.
In the Early Years children learn through imitation. As with drawing we don’t restrict the children’s imaginative and creative ability by giving them an idea or subject. The younger children absorb how we work with our crayons and paintbrush, copying what we do and how we do it, seemingly with out watching and without being taught. The older children more consciously imitate and will want to copy what the teacher and their other friends are doing. We don’t compare, judge or ask questions about the 'accuracy' of children's pictures, but may say 'what beautiful colours' or 'that is a strong house'. We don’t want the children to become self conscious about their work, but will always encourage them to give their personal best.
When drawing at home children often ask us to draw something for them. It is important not to let this take over, but to allow and gently encourage them to draw from themselves. At this age it is not important to be able to identify what your child is drawing - the process is far more important than the outcome. Rather than watching them draw we would suggest that you sit with them but be busy with your own related work - cleaning the crayons for example.
Tip: To clean the crayons take a small piece of sheep’s fleece or soft cloth either dry or dipped in vegetable oil and rubbed over the crayon. They can be dried off using a soft cloth.