Baby steps

Today was my first day of teaching classes at Sertoma Arts Center here in Raleigh.  The class is for the youngest preschool artists, from 18 months to 30 months old, with their parents. There are 4 girls and 1 boy in the class, but due to weather and a 2-hour delay in public schools' regular schedule, only 3 children attended.

As is my usual habit upon starting any kind of art class for kids, I relate the lesson to a book from children's literature.  I'm calling this 6-week session "Colors, Colors Everywhere!," and today's book was Lois Ehlert's "Planting a Rainbow."  The little ones got to wear smocks, use paintbrushes, and make color mixes with red, yellow and blue on large paper at their easels (big fun!).  Then, they painted small and large paper muffin cups with brushes and fingers, moms cut out grass and taped pipe cleaners (now called 'chenille stems'--how PC can you get?!) to blue paper to make a 3-D picture of flowers in a field, like the one below. 
The kids had a great time painting at the easels, but the painting of the cups for the flowers didn't go quite as well.  One of the moms had a great idea; seeing her daughter not wanting to paint inside the cup, she had her paint on a large piece of paper, then smooshing the cup into the paint with her hands.  I'll use that one again.  I'm not sure what ended up with more paint:  the kids, the paintings, or me! 

It was fun, and an eye-opener for me.  Next time, I will make the project much less involved, but more for little hands to do.  I've learned being flexible is the name of the game; I want the kids and the mothers to want to come, explore, get messy and love the time they spend with art.    And, I'm reminded of what my friend Jillian always said about having great "deliverables" once the class is over--pieces the kids can be proud of, and that parents think are worth the cost of the class.  I think our flower garden 3-D paintings were a good start, and I'm looking forward to another fun color exploration for Friday and next Wednesday!