Every day is a great day for process art in the early childhood classroom and Earth Day is no exception.

A study of the earth has so many wonderful possibilities for play and exploration. From understanding more about the earth itself to understanding how we can take care of the earth. One of my favorite topics is how the earth spins on its axes. Oh, I don’t go into great detail but I do find a book that builds discussion with the children about the topic. Usually, the kids actually know more than I do so I just follow their lead.

The Earth Spins and We can Spin Too!

After our discussion on how the earth spins, I invite my students to stand up and try giving their whole bodies a spin while standing on one foot (kind of like an ice skater). They love working to master this skill even though their spins can be a little crazy as they try to master the skill.

Put a Creative Spin on It

Another way to explore spinning on an axes is to invite the children to explore the process of spin art. Process art is perfect any time of the year because it allows children the freedom to experience an artful process all by themselves. If you would like to consider adding spin art to your Earth Day plans, let me give you a few tips.

Choosing a Spinner

Find something that your students can make spin. In my Pre-K class, we use a hand-operated salad spinner from Walmart. You should know that there are three types of salad spinners available. One has a little handle on top of the lid that the children turn like a crank. The other spinner has a pulley that makes the bowl inside spin when you let the pulley go (like an old lawn mower). Both salad spinners will challenge the children’s fine motor and large motor strength and control. The challenge of conquering the spinning process is something many of my students actually love the most. The third spinner is a pump spinner – I haven’t tried this one yet but want to.

This Spinner is the Winner

The other difference between the two salad spinners is that the pulley system spins much faster than the hand crank system which means the paint spreads better and faster in the pulley system spinner. The bottom line is that the kind of salad spinner you choose will affect the process the children use to create their spin art. I put both types of salad spinners out and I can tell you that my students prefer the pulley spinner best.

Your Invitation to Paint

  1. Set up cups of liquid tempera paint and spoons. Do not add water unless your paint is too thick but then only add a tiny bit of water and see how it goes. Too much water will make your paint too runny.
  2. Set out small paper plates and you may need some tape.
  3. Set out your salad spinners.
  4. Markers for name writing,

Invite your student to write their name on the back of a small paper plate then put it in the bottom of the spinner.  Next, add a few drops of paint on top of the paper plate. If you find your plates move too much in the spinner, put a piece of tape on the bottom of the plate and stick it to the inside bowl of the spinner.

Now add the lid to the spinner and spin away. Open the lid on occasion to see how it is going. Do you need to spin faster, longer, harder? Use lots of language to talk your students through the process but try not to take over the process.

Remember, the process is what is fun for the children and some will need a little help while other will figure it out with practice. My students usually figure it out after their first try then like to do it over and over again. Have lots of small paper plates handy for the children to keep working on the process as long as interests last. Oh, and sometimes I rinse out the paint in the bowl if it starts to get to thick for the next child to get a turn.

Available on Amazon