Monday, January 25, 2010

Don't paint!

I'm doing this new (for me) choice-based art education with my PreK, K, and 1st grade classes. There are multiple centers each class (usually three, since I have three tables). After an introduction, the students can choose which table they want to work at and what they want to make.

PreK has had the painting center for a while now. There are only 6 PreK students. Even if they ALL want to paint, it's feasible.

The first few weeks, their color options were limited to two primary colors. We explored color mixing and made observations. Paint phased out for a few weeks, but has been back since the beginning of January. Amazingly, some kids would rather cut shapes and collage or make a paper weaving rather than paint!

Today, as one boy was painting with red, yellow, and blue, he rediscovered orange. I asked him how did you get orange? Red and yellow!

At this time, I was sitting next to a little weaver. This weaver is so creative and full of personality. He also happens to live in the same stairwell in my apartment building, so I see him a lot.

Not to be outdone by the maker of orange, the weaver posed a simple question.

"(Orange-maker), how do you make white?"

Pause. Orange-maker is a little stumped here. To be honest, I wasn't sure of the answer. White and black are the only other colors of paint I'll give to my youngsters. You don't mix white paint. It comes from the bottle. What is the little weaver trying to say? How do you make white? Don't worry. He didn't leave us in suspense for long.

"Don't paint!"

(Do you get it? Leave the paper plain, with no paint, then it will be white!) I nearly spit my hot chocolate out all over the table! Flat out cracking up! This 5 year old made a hilarious art joke! I'm not sure the maker of orange understood the joke, or anyone else in the room, but it made my day.

Later in class, my little weaver decided to weave two rows with the same color strips as his paper loom. It was a trick, you see. After class, I would look at it and think he didn't finish, but he really did! How tricky!

In other news, I was almost a real teacher today! I had four elementary classes, a double-period of AP art history, and afterschool activities computer art. On top of that, my colleague was sick, so the art TA was busy substituting in secondary art classes most of the day.

I painted with 11 first graders with no TA!

I'd been reluctant to introduce the painting center to first grade because I was afraid they would ALL want to paint. I decided today that I would just select 4 that could paint. The rest would have to settle on a different center.

After establishing the tools we would need to paint (paint, paper, paintbrush, paint plate, water, spongebob) and demonstrating how to clean the brush, I asked who wanted to paint. All but 1. Ugg. How to pick just 4 students?

Suddenly, I realized I was better off letting the whole class paint. I gave the other boy the option again to pick painting. He just really wanted to draw. Ok. He sat at one table and drew while the other 11 students got painting supplies.

It took a few minutes to get every student every item, but I love recruiting the kids to help. They love to pass things out, and I like them to be responsible for things in my room. I also don't mind if they have to wait a little bit. They are not the center of the world. It's ok to learn patience.

At the end of class, clean-up went quite smoothly! I've established a clean-up system with 4th grade that works well for my room and resources. We implimented a modified version and managed to clean everything up, wash the tables, get out our art portfolios, document our center choice for the day, put away our portfolios, and collect our art shirts by the normal dismissal time.

About 10 minutes later, I'd washed the brushes and paint trays, packed up my things from the office, and was on my way down to the computer lab.

Overall, a successful day.

My Head of Department jokingly asked if I was preparing to move back to the states, teaching so many classes in one day, and without a TA. Only a joke, folks. I'm looking to be here at least 2-4 more years, and hopefully updating this more than twice a year...

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