teaching to learn, means learning to teach

It’s not often I’ll say this, but the activity you’re about to see should only be done on a Friday/last day of the week. It takes a lot of prep, needs an excessive amount of drying time and lots of space! I had seen it on various blogs on the internet, Teacher Tom\’s version

Irresistible Ideas version both inspired by

this mans work, Holton Rower

Tall painting has a beautiful effect, tests hand-eye coordination, created interest in art experiences for those who prefer larger scale or hands on activities, gives concrete learning about spatial awareness and maths concepts like tall, more, some and counting plus it just looks beautiful! Being as most people seemed to be using wooden blocks, I looked at all the tree branches we had, but due to bends and rough bark and difficulty balancing them, I had to let the idea go. Once visit to our local recycling warehouse ‘That’s not Garbage’ saw me walking out with a big back of cardboard reels from industrial sewing machines and a plan in my head πŸ™‚ A donation of large packing cardboard came in to good use, as I cut it into rough squares for our bases!

The children were shown what the basic steps were to set it up, as well as the nest steps in pouring, during the group time. I made it clear that they didn’t have to do it if they didn’t’ want to, but everyone was rushing in to get their art on!

We filled the floor as our children figured out ways to make their first cone stick. Masking tape and large stickers were the best adhesives, with many children taking the opportunity to explore different techniques and applications…and that’s where it’s always nice to have a helping hand πŸ™‚

The first layer was followed by optional extra layers, that were more of the same cones, but stuffed with a paper towel to give extra lift. We then moved our art boards outside (there was no way I was going to attempt this activity on a carpeted area! I’m brave but not silly) We each had our own piece of architects paper (gotta love recycling!) under our boards in case of spills, plus to designate clear work areas…with this many kids attempting to pour paint all at once, I was a bit nervous!

Then it was on to the paint. Each child could choose 3 baggies of watered down tempura/acrylic paint, ensuring they were 3 different colours.

We had one brave teacher on the firing line, snipping corners off the bags as the kids began pouring, as more kids moved over another teacher helped out.

Although we seemed to be rushing from one kid to the next with our scissors, the children themselves were showing great concentration and really appeared engrossed in the paints flow. Some even tried to counteract or adjust the direction of the paint!

Afterwards, we discussed our favourite part of the activity and almost unanimously it was ‘the squishing’. Although almost all the children used the same descriptive word, it was interesting to look back at these photos and see the different styles that ‘squishing’ encompasses! Above you see a squeeze whilst below is more of a pour…

This is definitely and art of balance and tipping. The way the children applied the paint didn’t impact too greatly on the finished art, you could see the slight variations in the process πŸ™‚

Whilst most of the group were sleeping – approximately an hour after we’d first poured paint – some of those children who were awake came outside to attempt to ‘marble’ their colour puddles. I likened it to the patterns on the top of a cappuccino but you might remember it better from marbling oil paints on water trays. It wasn’t truly successful for the patterning, but it drew a clear interest (and frustration) from those involved.

Some went for simple lines and slow movements,

while others went gung-ho and dragged, drew and smeared some of their still-wet-paint!

The designs were not as large our rainbow-hued as Holton’s but I was already feeling the pinch from using so much paint! Maybe if I could outsource old paint samples or mis-tints, I’d be more willing to use more paint on a really large block. The time it took to set up this activity was far more than I’m used to allowing for and possibly working on one large block and floor sized painting, whilst taking turns to pour from a few ladders would be more time efficient and space-saving. But I’ll save that thought for when I next run into a tall box, from a small refrigerator!


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