Friday, April 3, 2009

Sensory Painting

Painting is such a huge sensory experience for young children, and so I love to pack as much into it as I can. Combining the senses of smell, taste, touch, and even sound enhances the activity and makes it special for Jonah. We recently did these art projects that utilize multiple senses:

Oatmeal Oceans
This project is probably one of the messiest art projects that I know of, excluding anything involving glitter of course. It provides a way for Jonah to explore the sense of touch.

I mixed oatmeal into purple, yellow, and blue paints, until it was the consistency of the oatmeal that I eat for breakfast. I plopped the globs of textured paint onto some blue paper, and encouraged Jonah to put his hands into it. At first he looked at me as if to say "really? I can touch that?" Then he went to town! 
The reason that I call this project Oatmeal Oceans, is because a long time ago a co-worker of mine thought that the oatmeal texture made the paint look like the crests and foam of the sea. The name stuck, and I can't think of it as any other thing.  Jonah's painting, however, did not look like wave crests! Very little of the oatmeal actually stayed on his paper. He enjoyed squishing it in his hands so much, that any time he saw some just sitting on the paper, he had to pick it up. 
When he was done squishing, he saw fit (of course) to throw it on the floor. He did smash it against the paper, but he opted to remove the oatmeal from his painting. He is an oatmeal minimalist, I guess.
Jackson Pollock would be proud!

Primary Circles
I dipped the edge of a formula can into primary colored paint.
I put a piece of white paper on Jonah's tray, and encouraged him to bang the can up and down on the paper. You can use oatmeal containers or bread crumb containers- anything cylindrical- if you don't have formula cans handy. This activity introduces sound into our art. The formula can makes a nice metalic "thunk" every time it hits the paper.
 It also encourages a movement that is very vital in the way older infants and young toddlers explore the world- BANGING. Banging is very important. If you've ever observed a one year old trying to figure an object out, you know what I mean! Jonah enjoyed banging and exploring the can, and the colors on the paper, but he didn't seem very fond of the loud noise. Noises have been scaring him very easily recently. Next time I will use the oatmeal container, which has a softer sound when banged. 

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