Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Art with babies

I love doing art with kids. I think it is important to use a variety of textures and materials. I prefer process over product art. However, this post is about starting at the beginning. We started doing art when the kids were around 3.5 months old. This was the point they could hold a marker and were learning how to control it.

 Yummy markers
Sitting in Bumbo to color

Many people are surprised that I start with markers. Most people assume starting with a crayon would be better since it is less messy. If you are trying to avoid mess when doing art with children, then you aren't doing it the way I would. Markers are typically larger than crayons (there are always exceptions) which make them easier to hold. They will also mark on paper with very little pressure. If you lightly drag a marker across the paper you get a line. Try it with a crayon and most of the time you get nothing. The bold larger lines/marks are easier for babies to see and make sense of as they experiment. Babies will also put everything in their mouth. Markers have no taste and if they put the marking side in their mouth, the worst that will happen is brightly colored poop. Crayons being made of wax, taste good to young children. If you give them something that tastes good and tell them not to eat it you are fighting a losing battle from the beginning. This is why we start with markers.

 Look! My paper is still clean, but my tray and brother needed some color.
Can you draw two different things simultaneously?

I encourage the kids to only color on the paper, however as you can see that isn't what usually happens. That's ok because it all wipes off easily. It washes off clothes and baby wipes will clean it up off most surfaces. We don't use markers on carpet or near furniture. The markers are not kept out at all times. They are only brought out when I am right there to supervise. This is more important once they become mobile, but until they learn not to color on carpet, they aren't left out. As babies, we did art at least twice most weeks. That increases as they get older and have more interest and more variety. Most of the time, I don't have photos of them doing art because it's difficult to supervise and take photos.

Marker on face, hands, arms, clothes, and some on the paper

One of the awesome moments of being a mom and/or teacher is seeing what a child is thinking when they finally get "it" - whatever "it" you are currently allowing them to explore. Here you can see my son as he realizes one end of the marker is special. He would touch it to the paper, pick it up to look closely at the paper, look back at the marker and try it again. After doing this multiple times, he started laughing. He tried using the other end and nothing happened, so he set it down and threw a fit (he was still a baby after all). I turned it back over for him and he started all over again.

Discovering how a marker works