Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Creative Group Work

Our recent mother's day art project got me thinking a lot about collaboration. Collaborative group work is important for children's development. It promotes skills such as communication, problem-solving, cooperation, and negotiation. When I used to teach toddler art classes, I often encouraged group work through fun, gross-motor activities. This was a great introduction to collaboration and was often the highlight of class. Here are some photos from a few of our group projects...

Ball painting with a large tub

Floor painting on a large canvas

Pour painting on a large sculpture...

As kids get older, group projects can become more involved, with deeper learning. Now that Karuna is almost 5, I want her to have more opportunities to do collaborative, creative work with her peers. I'll be thinking about how to facilitate this during playdates!
I'm especially looking forward to this summer when she'll attend Camp Galileo, where they emphasize collaboration and call it, "an essential element of innovation." Her group will be designing and strength-testing a giant castle wall. To design a wall as a group will be an interesting challenge in and of itself! After learning how to negotiate ideas and make group decisions on the final design, they will then have to figure out how to build it. If it doesn't hold up, they will have the opportunity to re-work their plans and try again. I'm excited to see this process in action and how it supports their learning. I'll be taking photos, so check back at the end of the summer to see how it goes!


disclosure: I am receiving a week of free camp in exchange for three posts about Galileo Learning. The views and opinions are completely my own.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Collaborative Painting Project

With mother’s day coming up, I thought it would be fun to do a project with my daughter, Karuna. If both of us worked on something together, we could make a special gift for all the moms in our family- for me, my mother, as well as my husband’s mother.
Karuna recently suggested a game where we would work on our own painting and then switch to work on each other’s painting. I thought this would be the perfect way to collaborate on these mother’s day gifts.
Inspired by Playful Learning’s mixed media project, we started by taking a photo of Karuna’s arm against a white wall. I printed out the photo on watercolor paper (after cutting it down to the standard 8.5X11). 

We got out our Watercolor Resist Supply kit, along with an extra set of brushes, and picked some flowers from the garden for our bouquet inspiration.
Starting with beeswax crayons, we each began working on drawing the flowers. Karuna was in control of switching and would call out “switch” after we worked for a few minutes. We switched papers, drew a little more, and then started painting before switching again.
The beauty of the “resist” technique is that the crayon drawing shows through the watercolors when painted over.

We were both excited to see the finished pieces. This was the first time Karuna and I had collaborated on a painting since she was a toddler. I had a blast and I think it made an impression on Karuna. I often forget that modeling art is important.  It doesn’t matter what the art looks like, just showing our kids that we can let go and enjoy the creative process will help them to do the same.   

Love this project, but don't have the materials?
We've got them here!