I love inviting the children to participate in collaborative painting experiences!
We had some new friends join us this past week for a play group session. I was not sure how the children would react to using paint, so I decided to play it safe and use a taste-safe paint recipe. You can check that out here.
Our theme was "Oceans of Fun" and we explored ocean themed invitations. I thought a transparent canvas would make a perfect surface for collaborative painting. Very "under the sea," right?
Why I love collaborative painting invitations:Each play group session, I try to offer a collaborative painting experience. In addition to all the benefits that painting offers (motor and cognitive skills), it also offers great communication and social skill building opportunities.
Giving the children just one large surface to work on together, means that the children must communicate with one another. This can be done both verbally and nonverbally. Children watch each other navigate the invitation and decide how they, too, will engage in the medium. Sometimes you see the children ask permission to join by sharing just a glance at each other. This is an important skill is called joint attention. This is the basis of all communication. It means that two people are attending to the same thing at the same time. This means that children understand that other people have their own thoughts and ideas that are separate from their own. This joint attention is the foundation for future conversational skills. When two people can talk about the same topic. Sometimes during this invitation you will hear the children talking to one another. The children may be telling their peer what they will be doing next. Or they may be requesting items from each other.
That brings me to social skills. During a collaborative painting invitation, children practice sharing materials and negotiating the space. Sometimes this happens naturally, other times the children have to take some time to work on this skill. That is okay. No toddler or preschooler is going to be an expert at sharing. Goodness, I know some preteens and adults in my life who sometimes have trouble with this skill. This play invitation is the perfect backdrop to practice this skill.
How to set up this invitation:1. Secure a clear shower curtain (the best dollar you will spend from the Dollar Tree) from two high points. I tied ours to the two columns on our back porch.
I do suggest doing this invitation vertically so that you are able to take advantage of having two sides to paint from. The children did not completely discover this aspect during this play group session, but I know they will once they have more opportunities to explore.
2. Set out some paint and paint brushes. We used flour paint. You can find out how to make it here. I knew this could be potentially messy, and we had some younger artists in this session, so we opted for taste-safe, washable paint. However, this does mean that the paint will crumble off once it completely dries. You will not be able to save your creation. BONUS: It does come off, so you can do this again and again.
3. Sometimes children aren't sure what to do with an invitation, so you need to encourage someone to make the first mark. Then step back, and document the process!