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!