Mamma Can I Paint With Plastelina?

”STAND ASIDE FOR A WHILE AND LEAVE ROOM FOR LEARNING, OBSERVE CAREFULLY WHAT CHILDREN DO, AND THEN, IF YOU HAVE UNDERSTOOD WELL, PERHAPS TEACHING WILL BE DIFFERENT FROM BEFORE”.

LORIS MALAGUZZI

Few days ago I set an invitation to play by pulling out a sorting tray with some loose parts of the Build Fun Play Kit and tearing some clay apart into small pieces. Simple and surely an effective way to engage ma louloute. So, I happily share with you the art process below.

Firstly I would like to confess that I don’t like to micromanage my daughter by telling her how to use the clay. Besides, that’s one of the core ideas of process based art and the high scope approach (for early childhood education), where the kids at the first phase of an art project experiment with materials and ideas in order to have the chance to explore the potentials of the medium. Therefore I just let her experiment with clay in her own way for a while (I gave her time and space).

Afterwards I started asking her some questions like:

  • How does it feel?
  • Is it cool or hot? 
  • Smooth or rough?

As she continued manipulating and observing with her hands and fingers the texture and the sensation of the clay I started to engage her in a dialogue. Hence I asked her questions to encourage the art process like:

  • How do you like to shape your clay? 
  • What do you like to create with the clay?

Thereby she started to press the plasticine into the tray by using her fingers. I observed that she did a lot of smooching and pressing instead of sculpting the clay. She then spread out the clay by smoothing it onto the tray and shaping some abstract forms. And suddenly she had the idea to create a little cat (she has a lot of interest in cats lately).

Wow, I was really impressed because she used the material in a completely different way than it was supposed to be used. However she has her own ideas and how to express them through the medium. Moreover I encouraged her to expand her thoughts just by discussing some observations of what she was doing at the time and some possibilities of how the material will look like if we change different elements or ideas by using open-ended questions. 

Here are some examples:

  • If you blend red and yellow what color do you get?
  • What if you try to overlap pieces of clay? What we have now?
  •  If you rolled out a piece of plasticine (also doing that little snake myself in order to demonstrate what I mean) what shape do you get? How can you use this new shape on your animal?
  • If you make small balls and stick them together? What do they remind you of? 

After we had some big time exploring all those ideas we enriched our art play with some extra tools like popsicle sticks which help us to add more texture (by scratching or pressing) to our plastelina.

Finally I offered her the possibility to embellish her creation with some cool loose parts from our Build Fun Play Kit, such as googly eyes, wooden cubes and glass pebbles. 

This art project was really fun, engaging and almost mess free. For that reason is ideal for everyone who don’t feel comfortable with the messy play idea at home! Enjoy yourself and make some artful memories with your little ones!

P.S After the art session finished I asked ma louloute what she liked the most about our art play. Here’s our little dialogue with my 3 year old.

Me: ‘What do you like the most about this art play?’

Myrsine: ‘Painting cats and flowers with Plastelina. Mamma can I paint with plastelina?’ 

Me: ‘Yes off course, it’s a brilliant idea! I would like to tell me how you paint with plastelina? Show me with your hands if you like.’ 

Myrsine: ‘I press plastelina and look… you see this green circle?!’’,

‘It looks like a crayon but we have to press it like this (she shows me how) and look I can paint!

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