Painting Boxes


Occasionally in the learning community the children are not investigating a specific question or subject. During this time of transition, the educators try to inspire new interests by selecting interesting materials and offering the children invitations to practice process art techniques. 

The exploration of process art often inspires creative energy for the children and new ideas begin to flow. The ideas often generate new questions and investigations. Practicing technique through process art is a fundamental activity within the program, as it introduces children to new materials and the creative possibilities contained within.

Our creative journey starts with a box.

I found a large box within the recycled materials. My idea was to paint the recycled box as a group and see if the painting process inspired the children to generate a project from the box. As we painted the inside of the box together, new ideas were not blossoming, so the box was placed on the drying rack, as we waited for inspiration. 

Two days later, I asked the children if they were interested in the painted box and how we could extend the previous work. The children did not express any real interest in the box. Waiting can be challenging for an educator as the children decide when and if they are interested in continuing a project.

As the days passed, there was no interest in the box. Once again in hopes of inspiring the children, I created a new invitation to fill the box with rolled up colorful paper. I cut strips of paper an invited the children to fill the box. I wanted to see if revisiting the box in a different way created any motivation to take the project further. 

As the educator, I am choosing to lead the project in an attempt to inspire the children to collaborate by extending this work. My work with this specific group of children is a new experience for all and we are finding our way together. My hope for this project is to create together, have fun, and provide an opening for what happens next.

One of the children asked what was the purpose of this project. I said the purpose was to use the techniques we learn collaboratively to create individually in their future work. Together, the group rolled paper and glued it inside the painted box. The children were collaborating and at the same time struggling to work together.

I am wondering at this point if my leadership of this project is more hindrance than benefit. I decide to take the box and give it another rest on the drying rackand see if any of the children ask me about it.

A few days later, four children inquired about the painted box filled with colorful paper. After talking over possible extensions of the work the children decided to paint the outside of the box using tempera and toothbrushes. The work focused on adding color to all the unpainted areas of the box until the entire field was filled with color. 

I was excited that the children came up with the idea to paint the box with toothbrushes. While observing the children paint I did not realize this work was going to inspire a new interest in exploring the textures different objects create when dipped in paint and applied to a flat surface.

The act of utilizing the toothbrushes with paint inspired the children to come back the next day and paint with toothbrushes on paper. The children who used the brushes on paper were very excited and vocal about the results, shared them with their friends, and invited others to try painting in a new way. The new investigation continued for many days as the children explored the properties of different materials, texture, and paint.

I tried so hard to inspire the children to follow my lead and work on the box when all they needed was time. My thinking that the down time in between investigations could be utilized more effectively was met with the reality that the process of exploration and learning takes time and moves forward when it is ready.