Only the brave should try this!

If you are brave enough to read this post, then high five to you. If you are brave enough to go off and TRY this, then another high five for you! If you want a third high five, then keep reading…

Can you guess what the theme was on this particular day? It was snowflakes. More specifically how no two snowflakes are exactly the same. I know, it sounds like a stretch but the children absolutely didn’t care. They were just excited to find out “What will happen if I do this?” 

What will happen if I do this?

That’s a question that we usually think of going along with an exploration in science and discovery. But this question is a big part of most art experiences when it comes to the young child. While we, as adults, are thinking, “How will the children make this?” The child is almost always thinking, “What will happen if I do this?” That is the beauty of process art. Process art always puts that question ahead of any other agenda an adult might have – and so does the child.

Print Making

Inspired by our conversations about how no two snowflakes are alike, we set out different kinds of kitchen utensils and paper for the children to explore the idea of how no two prints are exactly the same.  I’m not so sure the children made the connection to snowflakes but the children were definitely fascinated with the broad range of kitchen utensils we set out. The teaching agenda was for the children to use the tools to make different kinds of prints. At first, that is what they did but after a bit, the exploration moved from print making to answering that big question, “What will happen if I do this.”

The Interesting Thing

The thing that is most interesting is if I had told the children, “Today we are going to paint our hands all different colors and make handprints.” The children would have most likely complained and said, “Do we have to?”  

But this wasn’t about making a mess for them. And it wasn’t about painting their hands. It was simply an exercise in answering the question, “What will happen if I do this?” 

Get another high five!

I mentioned earlier that if you are brave enough to try this, then I would give you a high five but the real question is, “Are you brave enough to let your students answer the question; What will happen if I do this?” If your answer is “yes,” then you get another high five from me. 

Now you might be thinking that you just can’t let the children make huge messes every time they come to the art table. And I agree. You have to know when to step back and when to step in. 


Step Back or Step In

So how do you know when to take a step back or a step in? If you are observing the children and they are genuinely and constructively focused on answering the question. “What will happen if I do this?” then try taking a step back. I find that after a few times of deep messy play, the children no longer have the need to keep doing it. They have satisfied that need and are ready to keep their creative experiences a little more reasonable. But they do need to satisfy the need before they can move on without you pushing them to move on. It’s part of their internal quest to answer that question… What was the question again?  Yes, you got it. “What will happen if I do this?”

Oh and this is what the process was supposed to look like…

So glad that their teacher decided to take a step back. It helped the children to explore the process more deeply and it gave me some great photos to share on this topic! 

Quadruple High Five to Ms. Lauren!

Deborah J Stewart

Deborah J Stewart

Every time I think I know everything I need to know about teaching young children, God says, "Hold on a minute!" and gives me a new challenge.

Let me tell ya...

With each new challenge that you overcome, you will find yourself better equipped and more passionate about teaching young children.

God didn't call wimps to lead, teach, or care for His children. Nope, he has high expectations, so get ready. You will have to give your very best but after teaching for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a wonderful and rewarding journey.

Whenever your calling feels hard, just remember, 'He who began a good work in you (and in the children you serve) will be faithful to complete it.'

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