38 chapter 3
Whether your art center is in its infancy or is
the product of years of experience, you can always
learn more about early art education. I recommend
exploring other ways to invite children to explore
and create beyond what you currently do. You can
get new ideas through books, colleagues, work-
shops, or the Internet.
Art can be a simple planned activity that goes
according to our finest expectation. Examples of
fun experiences include two types of ice cube paint-
ing, one with liquid watercolor and the second with
thicker tempera paint. This activity can lead to won-
derful discoveries and differences detected in the
consistency of melting paint cubes.
Art can be unexpected too. “Ooh, I did not think
of that—but wow, look what he is doing!” As a child
painted on a canvas with rubber brayers, the bray-
ers reminded him of one of our previous art activi-
ties, monoprinting. He then began scraping designs
and making prints. I thought it was great he had
recalled the project and turned this project into his
own idea. So I went with it!
And then there are those art moments that
make many grown-ups cringe!
Covering the whole sheet of paper—and hands too!
How can we present art materials to young chil-
dren in an age-appropriate and explorative man-
ner? It can be difficult to find the balance between
letting children experiment and worrying about
creating a giant mess or wasting materials. It is
true that the early stages of art exploration are often
messy and indulgent. But what the children learn
through mess and indulgence is priceless.
This project evolved in a completely unintended
way. And that was half the fun!
I had planned to have the children wear
backward smocks with lamb’s tails attached to
represent the lamb in their daily nursery rhyme,
“Little Bo Peep.” But wearing the smocks did
not appeal to the children in this particular
group. So we ripped off the tails and used them as
paintbrushes. Most of the children dipped the
tails in their choice of paint and gently painted
with them. But one child had his own ideas. He
said, “I have a plan! I need to put the paper on
the floor like this.” Then he began dipping his
lamb’s tail in paint, lifting it up, and whipping
it to the ground! The tail left colorful splatters
of vibrant colors on the large sheet of paper. It
also decorated the walls, the furniture, and the
hair and clothing of those nearby.