2

Using Mirrors In Play

Came across the idea of using mirrors as part of children’s play a few years ago and I have let the kids try painting on mirrors a few times, and even drawing on their own reflections in the mirror. When I did our art corner, I included mirrors as a permanent fixture. I have observed mirrors adding a new dimension to the boys’ play, whether with blocks or trains or art mediums. Check out An Everyday Story for more ideas!

To be honest, I am not very sure about the origin or theories behind the use of mirrors in children’s play. I think it is a very large part of Reggio-inspired environments, which I am currently reading up on. The thing is, theory or not, the idea of mirrors makes sense to me, especially after firsthand observations of my own children. Thus, I have recently added more mirrors to our play areas.

In the bedroom

In the bedroom

 

For blocks play

For blocks play

 

And of course, the trains area where the boys spend the most time

And of course, the trains area where the boys spend the most time

Mirrors are good for outdoor art explorations too!

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Big-Scale Mess.. I Mean.. Painting :p

Inspired by Growing Hearts, I decided to copy her idea and let my kids do something similar! And it’s not just the activity idea, I also like the entire post where she wrote about the importance of granting children freedom to paint.

The initial setup

The initial setup

 

Sponge brushes, rollers, paintbrushes, paint scrapers, water, rags

Sponge brushes, rollers, paintbrushes, paint scrapers, water, rags

 

One piece of majong paper each.. But meimei preferred same setup as her brothers! Next time ok, baby?

One piece of majong paper each.. But meimei preferred same setup as her brothers! Next time ok, baby?

 

Paint = sensory play : )

Paint = sensory play : )

 

The younger ones bonding together

The younger ones bonding together

 

2nd round while Meimei was napping

2nd round while Meimei was napping

 

Didi's palette....

Didi’s palette….

 

Kor Kor's palette.. Neat from beginning to end

Kor Kor’s palette.. Neat from beginning to end

 

Though Didi tried many of the brushes etc, he used his hands a lot a lot too

Though Didi tried many of the brushes etc, he used his hands a lot a lot too

 

He wanted to go one round.. so he did this.. hahahha..

He wanted to go one round.. so he did this.. hahahha..

I really like the look of the painting area in the Growing Hearts post, and I really like how our art corner look with the white shower curtains. Very uncluttered. So I decided to shift the toy kitchen away, so that there is more space between the easels and the art table.

More of the mirrors are exposed, which further contributes to the brightness of the area

More of the mirrors are exposed, which further contributes to the brightness of the area

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Our Art Corner

Other than painting, this is also the place where the boys do most of their messy play activities. It is in the kitchen, which makes it easy for us to clean up and for me to do my cooking etc while they play.

The boys’ artwork are showcased in the picture frames. I use 3M Picture Hanging Strips so that the frames can be easily removed for me to put in new drawings. The letters ‘CREATE’ are cut out from the boys’ drawings too. (No, I am not sentimental about cutting or throwing away their works. Too many!!)

The mirrors are my favorite part of the art area, inspired by Play At Home Mom. See here for the reasons for using mirrors.

The boys have basic art materials accessible at all times and they are allowed to draw or paint any time they like. Now they only have colouring pencils, crayons, dot markers, paint and watercolours available to them 24/7. I hope to put out more craft materials like beads when Meimei is older and not mouthing everything anymore. In addition, there are also scissors, letters-tracing cards, cutting exercises and playdoh in the drawers for them to use/play at their own time.

Sidetrack a bit: This is the first time he drew a building and described them to me! Don’t they look very much like the word “宫”? (meaning ‘palace’)

What other art materials do you allow your kids access to? I would love more ideas! Continue reading

0

Why I Don’t Teach My Kids To Draw

培养孩子从画画开始 : 走进孩子的涂鸦世界

鸟居昭美著 ; 于群译

I read the Chinese translation of this book quite a while ago, and read it again recently after I chanced upon Mrs Kam’s post on the same book. It is one of the books which influence how I teach my kids to draw… or rather, how I don’t teach them to draw. Just like I don’t test my children, it is a conscious and purposeful decision.

The author is a renown early childhood educator in Japan with more than 50 years experience in the field, and an artist himself. According to him, young children’s drawings are a form of expression, just like young babies express themselves by crying. As such, adults should not so much look at their drawings but to ‘listen’ to their drawings. Listen to what the child is trying to express via his drawings. But once the child is taught how/what to draw, he loses the ability to use drawing to express himself.

The progression of children’s drawing is similar to their other developments as they grow – there is no hurrying them! However the parent’s way of ‘listening’ should change according to the child’s age. At 2-3 years old, we ask him ‘what is this’. At 4 years and older, we ask ‘what are they doing’ and listen to the narration. The author reminds us not to be overly zealous and keep questioning the child while he is working on his drawing.

It is not just formal art lessons which the author cautions against – adults drawing for the child, caregivers teaching the child to draw, guiding the child about using colours (‘why is your sky not blue?’), letting the child do colouring books are all included. He explains that instead of being free to explore what her hand movements can create, the child tries to control her hand movements to go a certain way as instructed. She loses the chance to learn new movements and the joy of exploration. In addition, the adult is imposing on the child what he feels, while the child is unable to express her own feelings according to her will.

I can’t find the English version of the book. Anyone knows whether there is one? The Chinese version is available from the library. Other than the points I have translated here, the book has many illustrations of the development of drawings for each age range and explains each point in more detail.

Kor Kor's drawings at 4 years old

Kor Kor’s drawings at 4 years old

These are not as advanced as the 4-year-olds' examples in the book, but given my inability to draw, I think he's already doing very well!

These are not as advanced as the 4-year-olds’ examples in the book, but given my inability to draw, I think he’s already doing very well!

0

Painting Earth

I bought a new ‘gadget’ that makes ice spheres! Decided to let the boys play with it but didn’t have any ideas how to play with it, so I just gave them an ice ball each in a bucket. When Kor Kor saw it, he said, “It’s Earth, right?” Lightbulb went on above my head!

2

How to Play with Toilet Plungers

They are circles.. they are eggs.. they are moons.. they are 8s...

They are circles.. they are eggs.. they are moons.. they are 8s…

I really can’t recall where I got this idea to paint with toilet plungers, cos it’s usually quite a while after I see an idea that I get to execute it. Then I decided that it would be interesting to use fluorescent paint on black paper, since the boys seldom get to use fluorescent paint.

Other than the painting itself, the boys also loved the sound when they pulled the plunger up from the plates (of paint) and the paper. Which boy (or kid!) doesn’t like such funny sounds??

During the play, Kor Kor looked at Didi’s paper and commented that it looked very different from his. I took the chance to put some ideas into his (innocent) head about ART, and that art looked different to everyone and there was no better or worse.

they played, they cleaned

they played, they cleaned

By the way, did you know that what is commonly known as toilet plungers (in Singapore, at least) are actually sink plungers??? They look different!