I must stand on a soap box for just a moment before I share my latest ideas.
Yes, I use coloring books, patterns and paint with water. Yes, I believe there is enjoyment in coloring sheets and painting with water. Yes, I think it teaches boundaries and can generate ideas. No, I don't think it hinders creativity. As
with anything, moderation is important. Of course, coloring books shouldn't be the only source of art. I've worked in child care centers that prohibit all coloring sheets and even cut-outs of shapes, such as an acorn. Well, how are children going to learn what art is all about if they are only able to make their own marks? As adults we need patterns to create blankets, clothes, felt boards and matching games. So, how can we expect them to excel if we can't give children any guidance in creating and enjoying art? We do lots of construction project in our house. But guess what? In creating a project with a toddler I have to find patterns and cut them out to help her create whatever constructive project there is.
That leads me to title of this blog post -- independence and art. Recently, I set up the easel in living room for my daughter. I use Crayola Color Wonder markers and blank paper. I tape a piece of fresh paper to the easel and put the markers in the tray -- all day. She is free to go a draw any time she wants. This teaches enjoyment, creativity, self-guidance, independence and responsibility
(although we are still learning to put the caps back on). I really appreciate that these markers don't mark the walls or floor or clothes or face or... This way I can give her some freedom, even at 2 years old. Sometimes I draw something in black for her (her favorite right now is hot air balloons) and she colors it.
Today, I pulled out the paint with water coloring sheets. I put the water in an old sour cream tub and cut a small hole in the top for the brush to fit through. This worked great. I know I saw this idea a while ago and I wish I could credit that person. I was able to walk away and let her "paint" without the worry of water going all over the place. It was a fabulous way to give her independence. This is the beginning -- she's two. I suspect by 3 or 4 I'll be able to give her water colors and she will be able to paint by herself because we are taking these beginning steps. I will add that this may ruin the brush sooner than normal and the tub may not last for years, but the cost of those are minimum to provide independence and enjoyment for a toddler.