A Thousand Cranes & Other Collaborative Art

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This week I had the good fortune to visit Anna Bing Arnold Children’s Center at Cal State L.A., where creative ideas are thriving. Curriculum Coordinator Alexandra Walsh and Director Patricia Ulloa have decades of combined experience and a particularly innovative staff. Like Dominic, who facilitated this brilliant collaborative puzzle piece painting with three- and four-year-olds, which immediately caught my eye. Isn’t it brilliant?

anna crane 2 anna crane 3Dominic explained how this experimental project began by cutting 12 x 18” Real Watercolor Paper into puzzle shapes, then prompting children to select a shape and paint it using Colorations® Simply Washable Fluorescent Tempera. The puzzle pieces were placed in a basket in the art area for use at any time. The intense color you see here resulted from distinct 3 variables:  (1) using fluorescent paint,  (2) mounting each puzzle piece painting onto black construction paper, then trimming a close border, and (3) by using watercolor paper instead of white construction paper. The added thickness (and spongy quality) of watercolor paper absorbs more pigment than regular paper, giving the finished paintings a visual “pop.”   Nice!

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I fell in love with this Thousand Cranes Origami project, facilitated by Jasmine Cruz and Raul Delgado, which creates a unique environment that children, parents and teachers all participated in!  This delightful classroom activity, which combines open-ended art with math foundations and collaborative teamwork, embodies the “Four C’s” which children will later address in Kindergarten and elementary school.  These “Four C’s” are the four specific skills deemed by the US Dept of Education to be the most important for preparing students to succeed in the 21st century: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.  Kudos to Jasmine and Raul for initiating an important learning experience while adding beauty and innovation to their school.

anna crane 8A Thousand Origami Cranes is a group of one thousand origami paper cranes held together by strings. An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. Some stories believe you are granted eternal good luck. The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy creatures that is said to live for a thousand years: That is why 1,000 cranes are made, one for each year. Here children decorated papers over the course of two months, while parents and staff folded them into a thousand origami cranes. Thanks to patience and motivation, the children’s parents, grandparents and teachers strung all thousand of their hand-colored paper cranes onto cord and even added pony beads for charm.

Creative art programs like this one develop over time as the result of intention and practice on the part of administration and teachers. Lots of little tips that facilitate art set-ups are learned from experience. Writing the paint color of each bottle on the top of the white lid makes identifying each bottle a breeze.  Glue doesn’t just stick things together. It can be used in unique ways and one way is to pour a thick layer of clear glue onto a smooth surface and add seed pods, ferns and natural collage elements. When the thick layer of glue eventually dries, it creates a unique semi-clear glaze which holds the collage elements together. This second collage also uses clear glue, but in this one the glue is first infused with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor, then is painted and drizzled onto butcher paper.

anna crane 9 anna crane 10 anna crane 11anna crane 12Last but not least I re-discovered one of my favorite art techniques at Anna Bing Arnold that day:  the wonderful effect of colored chalk on black paper. This black butcher paper mural has so much energy, and I love how the door handle was cut out!  It also beautifully illustrates the constructionist idea on the poster in the center’s lobby: “Inviting children to fully engage in the use of messy, unstructured materials allows them to explore freely with infinite possibilities.”anna crane 13Thank you, Alex and staff for a LOT of inspiration.  Which one do YOU want to try?  

Materials Used Here:
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor Paints, 8 oz. – Set of 18 (LW18)

Colorations® Washable Clear Glue (P4GL)

Butcher Paper Rolls (P4018)

36″ x 1000′ Dual Surface Rolls, 40 lb., black (PDSBK)

Colorations® Colored Dustless Chalk – 100 pieces (CNODUST)

12 x 18″ Real Watercolor Paper – 50 sheets (BIGMONET)

9×12″ Heavyweight Construction Paper – 50 sheets (9CPBK)

Colorations® Simply Washable Fluorescent Tempera – set of 7 (FSWTSET)

Pony Beads – 1 lb. (PONY)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education.

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Group Art Activity: Tennis Ball Painting!

anna tennis ball painting 1Summer is almost over and here in Los Angeles school has already started. But for many children, there’s still a final stretch of summer freedom and the joys of outdoor play.

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Here’s a creative group art idea from Danielle Monroy, who own and operates Creative Care for Children in Santa Barbara.

Let Danielle’s children inspire you to take advantage of the final stretches of summer weather with messy art in the great outdoors.

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Ingredients:
1 small plastic pool
Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera, poured into plastic tubs
An equal number of tennis ball
Salad tongs
Cooperative children
Large sheets of white paper

Stir together and serve with a smile!

Reports Danielle: Some of the great things about this project? It was a truly cooperative activity – it only works when everyone works together and the more they do, the more giggles are produced!

During outdoor play sometimes children need more large motor play. This is a wonderful large motor activity that includes art, collaboration and concentration!

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Danielle and I will be co-presenting on Science and Sensory Play at the CAEYC conference in April 2014. We’re calling it STEM to STEAM – combining art and science in the early childhood classroom. We’ll post new handouts on that topic on the blog here, so you can also try them out. Stay tuned, and thanks for checking in!    It’s a pleasure staying connected with people like you who actively explore new ideas and embrace their own creativity.

Materials Used:
Colorations® Simply Washable Paint – set of 11 (SWT16)
Butcher Paper Rolls (P4018)
Sand & Water Activity Tubs – set of 4 (TUBS)

* Brought to you by Discount School  Supply®

Painting on Canvas & Studio Art

I visited Creative Care for Children in Santa Barbara last month and found the most inspiring art studio for young children, full of open ended art with emphasis on canvas painting. I was lucky enough to catch a young girl at work, and watched her carefully study each brush stroke and admire the results. Danielle Monroy, the Director and Owner of this inviting In-Home Preschool, told me how much her children enjoyed the freedom of painting and how the youngest children accomplished very impressive self portraits and abstracts, especially when given a stretched canvas to paint on. Here, Danielle shows how she helps children use masking tape to protect some sections of a canvas while they go on to develop other sections. In the painting she is holding here, waxed paper and masking tape are protecting the middle “self portrait” section which the child said was finished, while the background and surrounding areas are further developed. This “masking off” technique is particularly useful when using acrylic paint which is opaque. I’ll talk a little more about acrylics versus other paints at the end of this post.

Canvas always makes a painting seem official, as if painting on a canvas makes it “real art.” Maybe that’s because art galleries are filled with canvas paintings, and grownups artists usually paint on canvas. But it’s never too early for children to learn the pleasures of painting on the crisp white surface of canvas board, and with Discount School Supply’s new set of 6 canvas boards, you can do that affordably. Here are examples of toddler paintings on these very boards, taken on a site visit directed by Angie Gish at Grossmont Community College’s Child Development Center in San Diego. Each one is beautiful and their artful gallery display helps create a welcoming, intimate environment in this model toddler classroom.

What paint should you use on canvas? You can use any paint on canvas, but I recommend starting with either BioColor® or Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera and natural bristle easel brushes. Acrylic paint is also popular and offers the ability to layer without transparency, but it is not at ALL washable. Some people wait until elementary school before offering canvas for children to paint on, but I hope these pictures inspire you to dive right in way earlier than that. Have fun developing your art studio and help expand your children’s imaginations through open ended studio art.

Materials you will need:
Canvas – Real Stretched Canvas, set of 6 – Item VANGOGH
Small Easel Brush Set – Best Value Easel Brush Assortment – Item FULLSET
(or)
Classroom Easel Brush Set, set of 24 – Item SHPK
Best Paint Options:
BioColor® – BioColor, Set of 13 Colors – Item BIOSET
Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera – Set of 15 Classic and Cool Colors – Item SWTALL
Acrylic – Colorations Acrylic Paint, set of 8 – Item CACRYLIC