". . .the word of God is not bound." II Tim. 2:9b

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Unstructured Play Week, Day 4, Part 2: Finger Paint Is Everywhere!

"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10 NIV

By my daughter, age 11
Welcome to Day 4, Part 2 of Unstructured Play Week at Christian Teacher, Public School. Earlier I listed my 12 Tips for Adults in the Lives of Kids who are Artists. Now it's time to really make a splash, with finger paints!

Finger painting is a rare treat for preschool kids because the adults in their lives are afraid of the mess. When doing art with my preschool son, I sometimes underestimate the time it will take, the mess it will make, and the fun he will have! Finger painting falls under Unstructured Play because kids get to call the shots. Don't give them patterns. Don't show them examples of finished work. Just get your hands in the paint and have fun. The art will follow.

The Paint
Ordinarily, I steer clear of washable paints for school and home use because the colors tend to be less vibrant. When I taught kindergarten, I recommended Prang watercolors because there's a noticeable difference in brightness. When it comes to finger painting, though, washable, non-toxic paint is the way to go. Right now my kids use Rich Art's Clear Colors Washable Tempera Paints in primary colors that mix well to form other colors. When dry on the paper they're not as bright as I'd expected, but they do the job. Another option? Make your own finger paints.

The Paper
I bought Pacon Finger Paint Art Paper in a big, messy masterpiece-friendly 11" x 16." It's not too pricey, and it's worth the investment to get the best look from the paint and make sure the paper won't deteriorate.

Other Supplies and Prep
Even with washable paint, you need some type of smock (an old tee shirt that's a few sizes too big is perfect) or apron. To protect surfaces, lay down newspaper, and have paper towels handy to help with cleanup. Use paper plates to hold the paint while in use. You'll also need to designate a safe, flat surface for finished artwork to dry.

 After a few unexpected days off, we finally broke out the finger paints at the kitchen table. My daughter, eleven, is more comfortable than the boys are with getting her fingers messy for the sake of art. She focused on abstract paint application techniques and not on a specific theme or subject.

Vampire painting by my middle son
My middle son, nine years old and more reserved, painted a vampire. His inspiration was a favorite video game he's been missing since our family has opted for a "Privilege-Free Summer." We're trying to get the kids outside more and get them reading. It's been good to be able to sit down with the kids for Bible story reading and prayer more regularly.

The youngest, age four, was also hesitant to get his fingers messy. How blessed am I to have kids who wash their hands! But he dipped a finger in the black paint and soon got started. His favorite art subject is super heroes. I'm glad I took a picture of his painting before he decided to slop water on it with a paper towel!

Super Heroes
This picture is of "Super heroes doing the things that they like to do." It's fun to ask kids to tell you about their artwork. Sometimes you get a whole story to go with it.

I hope this post has been fun, and that it encourages you to include unstructured play time in your children's and your students' day. If you haven't read the other posts in the series, here are the links again. Please leave a comment and share! And happy Independence Day.

Unstructured Play Week
Day 1 Paper dolls
Day 2 Kitchen Chemistry and Cooking
Day 3 A Hike Up the Creek
Day 4, Part 1 Every Child an Artist, including 12 Suggestions for Grown-ups in the Lives of Young Artists

Coloring Books to Relax

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