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, Artwork, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art, Therapeutic Art, therapeutic side

SCIENCE and Process Art!

Oh boy, when we take on a crazy task, we sure do take it on!  Our unit on Science and Weather was one of those “great in theory” moments as we tried to figure out the logistics of pendulum painting, plaster casting plants, making rock candy, etc.  It all turned out but we really did stretch ourselves in the process (not a bad thing!!).  Our big take away from this past month was that sometimes process outweighs product.

What the heck is process art, you ask??  Great question.  After the first couple of classes, we teachers spent a few minutes explaining away to our parents.  “The end product might not be what you are used to seeing but here’s how we got there…” With process art, the HOW is just as important as the WHAT.  We did a lot of non-traditional art-making and the kids want bananas over it!

Week #1 was all about MIXTURE!  We blended our favorite liquid water color paints, used Faber-Castell chalk pastels, and used hand sanitizer to “lift” liquid water color off of our beakers to make fizzy bubbles.  The kids also learned about depth and dimension as we “flattened” shapes to draw the beakers accurately.

In Week #2, we explored life science.  We used food coloring to dye flowers and got out the hammers to make some serious noise (and beautiful art).  Our Tea Towels dyed with natural flowers turned out so beautiful.  Then we used plaster casting strips to make “fossils” of ferns.  The best part was painting them with natural paint made from spinach and coffee.  The kids were not amused but the smell!

Week #3 was all about weather.  Mixed media is always fun.  It was a sensory experience, too, when we used baby oil to blend.  We made our own rain storms using oil pastels. It was a sensory experience, too, when we used baby oil to blend the colors.fullsizeoutput_3490

Last but not least, in Week #4 we explored physical science by making art with a pendulum.  Holy mess, Batman!!  One would think that painting with pendulums and making an epic mess would be chaotic.  Well, much to our surprise, it wasn’t!  The kids were so enthralled by the art they were making that everyone was calm and totally on-task.  It was awesome!  The end results turned out pretty cool.  Check out our next blog post to find out how we did it!

Oh, and check out these adorable little mad scientists!

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Color Construct Create, How We Roll, OT, OT Corner, Therapeutic Art

The Take Home

Each week, when our artists leave class, they get a fun and informative take home sheet.  This is our chance to share the “why” behind the projects we choose and how parents can support this at home.  One of the benefits to our classes is the suggestions we provide to assist parents so our artists can carry over the skills learned in art class to home and school.  Here is an example from one of our classes a couple years ago:

takehomesheet

Sometimes the take home sheets offer ways to extend a project, recreate a project, or do it in a different way.  Other times it will provide community activities related to our subject matter, complimentary activities to build skills, or commercially available products that you can purchase to promote the skills worked on during class.

Art Room, Artwork, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art, Therapeutic Art

Mad about Murals!

This month we are mad!  Mad about murals, that is!  There is something really special about art on a larger scale and something positively magical about kids collaborating to create something together.  We started with our O’Keefe inspired mural.  For this project, the kids studied the rich paintings of Georgia O’Keefe and were inspired by images from nature of beautiful mums and dahlias in festive fall colors.

With an analogous warm color palette (colors next to each other on the color wheel), we freehand painted our flowers in different sizes and shapes.  Our kids sometimes struggle with scale so this was a great opportunity to practice fitting your flower onto the paper by going all the way to the edge without going over.  I admit, we did have a couple of almost perfectly square flowers (the exact shape of the paper).  As any artist knows, sometimes mistakes provide the best inspiration.  With black paint and a tiny brush, the kids were able to add some detail that really made the flowers pop!  And those square flowers… it was a piece of cake to go back in with the black paint and define those petals.

Each child painted 3 or 4 flowers, depending on time.  After they dried, we cut out our flowers and picked our favorites to add to the class mural.  Ms. Kristin painted a vase on the a 6 foot sheet of butcher paper that was hung on the wall.  We used scraps from the scrap paper bin to cut out leaves for the spaces between the flowers.  We think the end result is stunning!  Do you agree?  It’s hard to tell in the photo, but our mural is about 6 feet tall!

img_2584

Materials:

Square art paper in multiple sizes

Tempera Paint: Red, orange, yellow, and black

Large and small paint brushes

Butcher Paper

Green Scraps for leaves