Art Room, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art, OT, OT Corner, Preschool Art, Therapeutic Art, therapeutic side

The Take Home: Tactile Sensory Processing

One unique aspect of our studio is that we incorporate opportunities for tactile sensory play into our weekly themes.   Many of our artists have notable hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to tactile input in their daily lives.  Therefore, we include projects and the activities on our “sensory table” that can promote a greater tolerance for textures that might make us uncomfortable or provide textures that kids may seek out and neeeeeeeeeed to touch.  Seriously, have you ever played with kinetic sand or oobleck?

hands

We think it is important that our artists are exposed to messy, sticky, wet, rough, slimy or powdery media.  These textures are all present in our daily lives, and if we have the opportunity to play with them in this controlled environment (art room), then we can work on our impulsivity to touch, avoidance of touch, and overall tactile sensory integration.

Winter snow bin
Insta-Snow – a fantastically fun medium!!!
Art Room, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art, OT, OT Corner, Preschool Art, Therapeutic Art, therapeutic side

The Take Home: Finger Strength

Our hands are amazing.  They are, quite possibly, the most useful parts of our bodies. Hands are a key component to art-making (and pretty much every other facet of our existence).  Our ability to make art starts at the earliest stages of our development.  As babies, motor movements are often reflexive.  Once babies begin to interact with their environment,  their movement patterns become volitional and begin to override their reflexes.  These multi-sensory play experiences form the foundation for higher level skill development.  For babies and toddlers, hand and finger strength is built through play.  They see a toy, they grab it with their tiny little hands.  They want to manipulate it to get it into their mouth, they have to work really hard at it.  With practice, those movements become more fluid and they move toward mastery.  As children become more independent, learning to feed and dress themselves and mimicking our activities, the fine motor demands grow exponentially.

The process of completing a simple drawing task, painting a picture, or molding a dish out of clay is a multi-sensory experience that demands much from our artists small hands. Each week, we create opportunities to promote the development of finger strength.  This week was no exception!  As they became scientists working in our “lab” they used their pincers to drop colored vinegar onto a tray of baking soda, they used pencil and sharpie to draw their beakers and test tubes, and they squeezed out drops of food coloring to dye their sugar solutions.  All the while, they didn’t realize that they were building strength, dexterity and finger endurance!

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Color Construct Create, OT Corner, Preschool Art, Therapeutic Art

The Take Home: Endurance

One of the biggest struggles we have in providing art classes to younger children is their endurance, their ability to fully participate for the duration of the class.

Endurance: the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity
Merriam-Webster.com. 2017. https://www.merriam-webster.com (11 January 2017).

kids-doing-artWe teach regular art classes in a preschool after school enrichment program as well as our weekend and after school classes.  For children ages 3-5, we know that they will not be able to sit nicely in a chair for 45 minutes while we ramble on about a particular artist, show examples of famous artwork, and then proceed to teach them various techniques, and still expect a carefully designed product at the end of class.  No, we expect that their endurance for these difficult tasks will be no more than 5-10 minutes at a time. Besides, for many young children, coloring and attention to task are two very difficult activities in and of themselves, let alone completing a recognizable art project.

To accommodate and make it fun for everyone, work in natural breaks, provide related sensory activities, and rotate between sitting activities and those where they can get up and choose supplies, or stand at the table or vertical surface.  Instead of one beautiful masterpiece, we choose 2-3 smaller projects that are modified to be less involved and provide novelty and interest for them to be engaged the whole time, building their endurance for longer activities which then carries over into the home and school settings.

Art Room, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art, Preschool Art, Products We Love

Products We Love

Paper is tantamount to the success of any art program.  We mostly use wood-based papers due to the cost and nature of our art work.  These are papers are made from wood pulp and are great for drawing with different media.  When we watercolor or paint with tempera and acrylics, we use thicker wood-based paper as well as cotton rag paper.  Cotton Rag paper is made from cotton fibers and tends to hold liquid without disintegrating.  I’m sure we all remember trying to use those little watercolor sets on loose paper.  After the first brushstroke, the paper tears and looks like a rumpled mess.

Here are some of the papers we can’t live without.

All purpose drawing and light painting:

Ultimate Drawing Paper!  We’ve tried most of the all-purpose art papers on the market and this one is really good.  Holds up under heavy handed drawing and over eager erasing!!

http://www.discountschoolsupply.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?product=28713&Category=

Watercolor:

Canson XL watercolor tapebound pad.  This is a heavy paper with a nice tooth.  Inexpensive enough to supply to our students.

http://www.dickblick.com/products/canson-xl-watercolor-pads/

Butcher: 

Every art teacher needs a solid paper to put up for bulletin boards as well as laying on tables for keeping things contained.  It holds paint and can handle weight of tape.  Doesn’t fade.

http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1689949371895751&utm_source=google&utm_medium=ppc&utm_campaign=PLA&CAWELAID=520011010000004436&CAGPSPN=pla&CAAGID=14792439177&CATCI=pla-196644073737&catargetid=520011010000055708&cadevice=c&gclid=CMaTl42_rtECFRSUfgodOdwAtA

PAINT!!

Who doesn’t love paint?  There are so many different painting mediums out there, it’s hard to know where to begin.  Some of the paints we love that are easy to purchase for your home art studio are:

WaterColor: There are 2 big winners in the watercolor category, liquid and cake pan watercolors.

Liquid watercolors give the vibrant, beautiful color with the transparency of expensive sets.  They are great for layering, resists, and covering large areas.  We also love that you can adjust the intensity by simply adding water.  We sterilize old condiment jars and store premixed liquid water color for months.

https://www.dickblick.com/products/blick-liquid-watercolors/

For traditional watercolor painting (think back to elementary school and the little paint trays), we love Faber Castell’s watercolor paintbox.  The Faber Castell’s are winners for us because of their strong pigments.  They are more opaque than a traditional watercolor set.  Because the colors are so dense, they last a long time and hold up well under the use and occasional abuse of our little artists.

http://www.fabercastell.com/playing-and-learning/products/washable-paints-and-brushes/Watercolorpaintbox12colors/12501

 

Art Room, Artwork, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art, OT, Preschool Art

Art Club and the First week of school

Intermediate Art started out as a regular drawing class.  We worked on all the basics.  In Intermediate Art, we also do a LOT of talking.  Mostly, I do a lot of talking.  The students in IA last year were very introspective and self-aware.  We had some very deep conversations.  It was really cool.  To quote my son’s kindergarten teacher, it really “filled my bucket”.  Something we talked quite a bit about is something so essential to art and identifying as an artist: communication.  Art is communication.  Whether it’s happy, sad, literal, or abstract, whatever we make communicates a message.  Intermediate Art is kind of like a club.  A special group of friends that bond over their passion for creativity.  Ms. Kristin and I decided Intermediate Art needed a new name that represents what it really is.  An art club.  This year, we have officially renamed Intermediate Art.  From today on, the artists formally known as Intermediate Artists will now be in Art Club!!!

Art Club got very clever last year with the use of line and space, making these beautiful contour line pumpkins filled with their own Zentangles. Aren’t they expressive?!

As my kids went back to school today, I left them and couldn’t help thinking all day about how they were doing.  Were they having a good day at school?  We all do this to some degree.  Perhaps less as they get older.  When my kiddos came home, I asked them about 100 questions and only a couple were responded to with more than a 1 word answer.  Good.  Fine.  Stuff.  It got me thinking, how can we communicate how we feel about an experience without being literal?  Through design!  Why not ask our kids to use lines and patterns to show us what their day was like?

IMG_5775 IMG_8458

Here’s an example of one that starts with a squiggly line and ends like this.

IMG_4404

Another example!

Something so simple can tell us so much about how our kids are feeling.  Can you guess which kiddo felt tired when he got home?   Try it!  Give your kids a blank piece of paper with a 4 inch square drawn on it.  Tell them to draw a line that shows how their day went.  Fill it with lines and patterns to represent the different things that happened during the day. Show us what they make!