Friday, March 13, 2009

the power of the right words + powder paint = red clouds

We've had the powder paint out a lot at school lately, unmixed, just pots of powder, pots of fresh water, and clean paint pallets, ready and waiting for children to come along and seize the opportunities that a blank canvas and a bit of creativity present.

There are some children who are instantly drawn to this kind of activity, and some who are not. One of my boys, let's call him Ollie, is not. However, Ollie loves to work out how things work. This is what makes him tick. In the windy Autumn days, he spent hours outside, experimenting with the hand held colourful windmills, running, twisting and turning at different speeds to see what effect speed had on the rotation of the windmill. When we made a pirate ship, he made a propellor to go at the bottom of a shute, which he then put 'treasure' down in the hope that it would be heavy enough to rotate the propellor. In everything he does, he is thinking about how it all works.

On Tuesday, I made it my mission to get him to do some painting with the powder paints. Our conversation went a little like this:

Hannah: 'Hey Ollie, I'd like you to come and do some painting with me.'
Ollie: 'Well, painting's not really my favourite thing.'
Hannah: 'I know it isn't, but I was thinking, you know how you love to think about how things work?
Ollie looks at me, his face lights up, and life comes into his eyes
Ollie: Yes!?
Hannah: 'Well, I think you'll find these paints really interesting, because we have to mix two different things together to make it into paint, and I think you'd love to try and work out how it all changes to become paint!'
Ollie: Ok!!

So, Ollie and I had a lovely time mixing colours and talking about why colours change when you paint a new colour over the top of them. Ollie then said,
'Maybe this is where I will have to come and play at group time.'

NB: 'Group time' is when we tell the children where we want them to play, and they have to stay there for the duration of group time.

Seizing upon Ollie's new found interest, I suggested to his group leader that maybe she could send him to the painting table at group time so he could experiment more.

...I realise this is a slightly long-winded story...sorry...

So, that's where he went at group time.
Being the little explorer and investigator that he is, Ollie managed to find his way into the massive bucket of un-mixed powder paint that lives under the table, and discovered a huge lump of the powder that had got stuck together. So, his attention had been averted from what he was supposed to be doing.
I encouraged him to start mixing his paint, then carried on with the activity that I was doing with my group of children. Shortly after, I became faintly aware of a banging sound. As it continued, my suspicions started to rise, so I turned around to see where it was coming from. It was at this point that I realised the whole of our end of the classroom had become shrouded in a red cloud. My eyes fell on Ollie who was banging his red-stained hands on the table, which was producing the ever-growing red cloud, as he was adding more and more powder to his paper, using his hands as the tools instead of paintbrush and water.
I had to smile, because once again, Ollie's curious cause-and-effect nature had come out once again.

The end learning product of Ollie's group time session? We can make red clouds.

Children are brilliant.

1 comment:

PelleasAnthor said...

You are absolutely right, and it is the unexpected outcomes that are one of the things that make them particularly interesting. I think you did brilliantly to key into his interests.