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

Arts of Asia!

Our theme this month takes us to Asia!  We could stay with this theme for months given the vast amount of inspiration from the many countries and cultures of this continent.  We visited Thailand, India, Japan, and China on our tour.  One of the favorites from this month was our open hand tray.  Our inspiration came from the beautiful henna designs in India.  Here’s how we did this really fun project:

Materials:
Air dry clay (we like Crayola!)
Paper Bowls
Scoring tools: straws, dowels, plastic knives, awls
Acrylic Paint (Blick)
Small/medium paint brushes
Modpodge

Prep:
Roll out a racquetball/lacrosse ball size slab of air dry clay 1/4″ thick for each student, place between sheets of cling wrap or in zipper bags.

Steps:
Show students images of henna designs.  Discuss the meaning of Mehndi ceremonies in Indian culture.

Each student receives a slab of clay and a plastic knife.  Students trace their hand onto the clay with fingers touching.  Use the plastic knife to gently cut out the hand.  Use scoring tools to make designs and patterns, emphasizing floral patterns, leaves, etc.  Line a paper bowl (or any cereal-sized bowl) with cling wrap and gently press hands into the base of the bowl to round the shape of the hand.  Do not disturb the designs of the hands while pressing into the bowl.  Allow to dry undisturbed for 2-4 days (depending on climate).

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At the next class, return hands to students with a small palette of acrylic paint with small brushes.  We chose colors based on what we had a lot of in the closet ;)!   Ask the students to paint the entire hand, no white spots.  Acrylic paint is absorbed quickly into the clay so it shouldn’t take long to dry.  We intentionally limit the amount of paint the kids have access to for 2 reasons: we don’t like to waste and if you give them only what they need, they are more likely to use it appropriately.  Let’s face it, we all have those students who will apply globs and globs of paint.  If you are intentional with your teaching and materials distribution, they will be intentional with their painting! Once the paint is dry, liberally apply Modpodge with a foam brush or old paint brush.  We have old brushes that we use just for glue application!  Have fun!

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.