Last week was the first Meri Cherry Art Class for 3-5 years olds of the summer. We made Reggio Inspired Splatter Paint Self-Portraits and it was so much fun! These are 100% kid made from paint to beaded wire. I love working with this age group. Exposing young children to the process of art is such a rich experience. I am so grateful to be a part of their art filled journey! If you live in sunny Los Angeles, especially the Valley, click here for more info about our art classes for different age groups. If you’re new to Reggio, Kate from An Everyday Story has a great introduction to the Reggio approach to learning on her beautiful blog. I invite you to check it out. What I love most about the Reggio approach is that it’s child focused. The work comes from the child, not the teacher. These self-portraits are just one example of how kids can create beautiful art work with a little guidance and support.
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I always like to starting art experiences with a beautiful invitation to create. Lazy susan’s are a great way to hold art supplies and give kids access to everything that is needed. This is a nice one. Ikea has great ones too and I always keep on the lookout for cool ones at local thrift stores and yard sales. Here’s what you will need for Splatter Paint Self – Protraits. I’ve included links to where you can buy things as well.
Baby jars or some kind of small container, primary color tempera paints and white, paint brushes (I like these), recycled cardboard or foam core, wire, beads (these are my favorites and you can paint them), something sharp to make a hole in the cardboard (a skewer or random sharp kitchen object should do the trick) and popsicle sticks (recycled or bought here.)
Once the supplies were set up I invited all the kids to sit around the table in our art play house. I had covered the table with my favorite butcher paper, which makes everything look nicer and keeps things relatively clean when working with kids or adults.
First step, mix the paints. I love mixing paints with young children. This is an essential step that exposes kids to cause and effect, color recognition, fine motor development, creative thinking and decision making. Each child took a turn choosing two primary colors and white to squeeze into a baby jar. I recommend putting paint in these bottles. It makes life way easier and you can see the paints clearly. They look really inviting too. I also use them for glue. Once everyone had their paints in a jar, we used popsicle sticks to mix up the colors.
Of course we had to name our paints in true Reggio style. I had prepped each jar with some masking tape so we could easily label the jars with their paint names. Kids come up with the best names for their paints. I’ve seen Moon Green, Sugar Orange and a whole lot of Princess Pink in my day! If kids ever have a hard time thinking of a name, I like to recommend using their name for the paint. After all, no one can make green quite like them.
After we named our paints, it was time to get splattering. I added a little water to each baby jar and did a little demonstration of how to lightly tap your paint brush over your desired surface. In this case we used cutout rectangles of cardboard I had primed with white house paint.
Since these kids are young, it’s important to keep things moving. I had a different area set up where kids could bring their baby jars, paint brushes and cardboard for splattering. We sat down and splattered, chatted and giggled for the next ten minutes or so. Some kids decided to paint right on their cardboard with the brush. That’s fine. Remember, these kids are young. It’s about the process, not the product, and exposing them to new materials and techniques. They have their whole lives to follow the rules so don’t sweat it.
After we had enough splatter paint on our boards we headed back to the playhouse for beading while our canvases dried in the sun. I cut a few styrofoam balls in half to use as bases for our wire so the kids could easily slide on the beads. I’d say it worked fairly well. Next time I’d use square styrofoam pieces instead that were a little sturdier. Regardless, each child was able to get the beads on the wire, which we placed on the side when we were finished. This took about ten minutes, which was just enough for our splatter paint to dry in the sun.
The last step and my personal favorite, was the self-portrait. I had bought these awesome awesome acrylic mirror trays at Discount School Supply and I have been dying to try them out. I placed one in front of the kids one by one as we studied their face and what shapes we saw. First everyone did their head as we passed the mirror around. Then the eyes, nose, mouth, all one by one. We used black paint for the faces to create a contrast with the boards and splatter paint. Some kids were able to paint a circle and some weren’t, but each kid felt successful regardless. It was great!
At the very end I attached the beaded wires to two little holes I had prepped in each board before the kids arrived. * Tip* Make sure the kids are painting their self portraits with the holes on the top, so they don’t hang upside down when they are finished. Kids tend to move their boards around when you’re not looking. Sneaky little buggers.
And that’s how we made our Reggio Inspired Splatter Paint Self-Protraits. I’ve done another variation of this project here, if you want to check it out. It’s my all time fav. And for more great art ideas for the Preschool set, this ebook is fantastic. Please let me know if you have any questions. A few of the moms contacted me after class with stories about how the project influenced their child and how proud they felt. This is definitely worth the effort. Have fun and happy summer!