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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL When he looked a bit nervous about the splattering, I simply moved the other children out of the way and asked the splattering child, “Well, who is the artist?” He replied with a smile, “Me!” creative and authentic art  39 the children can learn strategies for sharing space. The teacher could remind the children that this is a group project, and all the classmates are working together. Perhaps the child who wants more space could move to a less crowded space near a teacher. If working together is too difficult that day for the child who wants more space, the teacher could offer the child a small sheet of paper for solo painting. Through collaborative art, children develop un- derstanding of space and proximity. They develop a plan together and work together to carry out the plan. The artwork hangs on the wall for all to see and take pride in. To Smock or Not to Smock Painting with a lamb tail Collaborative Art Children can learn many things through collabo- rating on art projects. They get a chance to exercise their large muscles when they produce big artworks together. They build community in the classroom. They learn how to work together in a confined area, sharing space and materials. They get many oppor- tunities to practice problem solving. If two children want to use the same paintbrush or the same paint color, they can learn strategies for sharing materials. The teacher could scaffold this learning by steering the conversation. For example: “Linnea, when you are all done with the pink paint, will you pass it to Maddie, please? She would like a turn when you are finished. Maddie, would you like to use purple while you are waiting?” If a child paints on top of another child’s work, Is this a crazy question to ask? Even if it seems ri- diculous, it’s still a worthwhile question if it helps us reflect on our teaching practice. Many teachers require children to wear smocks if they wish to engage in art. And indeed, insist- ing that children wear smocks for messy work seems practical and logical. So what’s the prob- lem? Younger children and children with sensory issues often do not want to wear smocks. Many children will avoid art altogether if the smock is nonnegotiable. If you notice this happening in your classroom, you might want to offer the children a choice about wearing smocks. Be aware, though, that optional smocking makes some adults uncomfortable. Ex- plain your philosophy clearly to families as soon as possible. It’s better to let a child get messy and have an artistic experience than to let a child miss out on the experience because he won’t wear a smock. Remind families to dress their children in clothing that can get messy. You may still want to encourage the children to wear smocks or aim toward the goal of wearing smocks if mess is likely. You can also make the chil- dren aware of their clothing as they begin to get COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL