Sunday 30 December 2012

Do children play enough?

This quote got me thinking...

I believe that those boys who take part in rough, hard play outside of school will not find any need for horse-play in school.

Theodore Roosevelt
American president

There is so much talk about there being more children with diagnoses and "problem" children who can not sit and focus on their school work - and a whole variety of suggestions have been made as to why this is the case - including class size, standardised testing, not enough play/learning through play in school etc etc
What if children are not playing enough outside of school/preschool? Could this be having an impact on what they are doing in school?
Children's days have got longer - often both parents are working so children are required to stay in preschool for longer days or go to after school care. When do they have the time to play freely with their friends?
I remember in my childhood that we would play on the back fields together after school, without adults (in the back garden when we were younger - although my mother still did not participate - she stayed indoors with a window open - listening...). I remember playing in ditches and making mud-pies, making channels like a snake in the long grass, making skiddy patches on the ice, building obstacle courses, dens and pretending to be a show-jumping horse devising all sorts of jumps with brooms and buckets and anything else we could get our hands on. We had free range of a whole neighbourhood. We played, we imagined, we interacted with each other.
Then in school we could sit and listen easier... our bodies satisfied with play, and with the knowledge that we would play again later on after school. 
Do we trust neighbourhoods now to allow our children to explore? Do our children get the freedom that I once had, and many others had in our own childhoods...?
Does giving homework to children shorten further their chances to play?
Is society really more dangerous? Or have we become more afraid? Why?
I live centrally in Stockholm - free range, the way I experienced it, has not happened for my children - I have my own fears - but also where are the other children? Are they all at extra-curricular activities? Organised play by adults. Its always play-dates supervised by parents, not the freedom of play I had as a child.
I am happy that we have a small house in the woods just outside the city - where my children can play freely, explore, imagine, interact. We take friends out there so their interactions are not confined to siblings... Pockets of abandon.
Are we institutionalising childhood? Are we re-defining play? Or are the adults hijacking play?
If children had more freedom to play - and I mean play in its truest form, would it be easier for them to concentrate in school? Was Theodore Roosevelt right? (although it should not be reserved for just boys!!!). Would there be a reduction in diagnoses and "problem" children?

I do not believe in problem children - only in problem situations. We as teachers and parents need to address the situation - what can WE do to change the situation - then try that, reflect, adjust and try again until the situation improves...

Friday 28 December 2012

Experimenting.... more RE reflections

Sometimes its not just the children that need to experiment - we teachers (and parents) need to as well. I feel this is an essential part of a Reggio Emilia Approach. If we are not prepared to try and test things and make mistakes, then how can we expect the children to do this?

Sometimes I will experiment beforehand, as a part of my own education - what happens when I move my camera during a long exposure shot of the garden Christmas tree? How can apply this finding? - children moving torches in the dark while I photo with a long exposure? How can they learn to make patterns? Would it be enough to show them the image on the camera or would printing out some images be necessary? Suddenly one little experiment triggers a whole series of questions - and that is before I start discussing it with others... because that is when ideas really take off - becoming bigger and grander, or smaller and more refined...

without flash
with flash
 Sometimes I need to experiment with my camera AT work - what kind of photographs am I wanting? Ones that show the glitter and the colours and the faces of the children clearly? Or ones that reflect what the children see and experience? A choice needs to be made - which one gets chosen for the wall/documentation/portfolio? And why? I find myself leaning more and more towards images that reflect what the children EXPERIENCED rather than snapshots of the children themselves. I find myself leaning towards the photographs that tell the story of what we did/experienced/experimented with and I can be quite brutal with the delete button.

melted sweets and saltdough - sweetie-vulcanoes
 Sometimes I experiment WITH the children - this is my FAVOURITE kind of experimenting - it allows the children to see that I do not always know the outcome, that if it does not work that we can try again and reflect upon how to do it better, it allows the children to see that I am not afraid to make mistakes - that in fact making mistakes is an essential part of learning.

The sweetie-vulcano was a challenge - we talked it through as a whole group and with the two children who initiated the mini-project. Was it going to be big, or small, one together, or one each, what kind of materials would we need. It was quite clear that none of us had made a sweetie-vulcano before, and I let the children know that if it didn't work that we could have another go (so far our projects had been working - we made yellow ketchup together when the children said that there was no such thing as yellow ketchup when we read it in a book - and even though I presented the children with the ingredients - they decided the quantities - and whether some extra spices should be added or not - and in the end it tasted like ... ketchup! - I was as amazed as the children ... I truly believed that our first recipe, that we documented, would have to be adjusted, but it did not). The sweetie-vulcano worked in so far as the hard sweet melted with heat like rock turns to lava - and that when it cooled it turned hard again. Our question was that it did not go black like cold lava... so this was discussed and various reasons came forward and no solution to make the cold lava black but maintain the red molten sweetie lava could be found...

Sometimes experimenting does not mean science

  • it means rhyming and joking and playing with words etc to experiment with language...
  • it means drumming and blowing and testing out instruments, singing and dancing etc to experiment with music
  • it means climbing, jumping, running, rolling etc to experiment with how our body moves
  • it means mark making, drawing, painting etc to experiment with literacy, art etc
  • it means experimenting with the pedagogical environment - daring to make changes
  • it means experimenting with creativity, imagination etc etc etc etc etc
of course, if you are experimenting, you are also documenting, so that you can learn from the experiments - what SHOULD be tried out again, what should be AVOIDED, and what needs adjustments? And why?

I have also EXPERIMENTED in front of the children. I have taken some of my planning time to be in the same room and to just test something out - I remember making a pipe-cleaner animal and experimented with plaster of paris bandages to see if I could make it look like an ornament - it did not take long before there was a gaggle of children around me watching - that suddenly disappeared and then reappeared armed with their own pipe-cleaners. They could see how mine was wobbly at first and how I needed to make adjustment after adjustment - and we all helped each other with advice and extra fingers when necessary. The children involved learned that sometimes things do not have to work first time but that does not mean you have to give up, it means re-think...

I am hoping 2013 brings plenty of experimentation. I am looking forward to it.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Facebook, changing jobs and happy holidays

Today I started a facebook group,  with the same name, where I will post my new blogs, but also link up other blog posts.

I am hoping that others will join me there and link up their favourite posts and make comments and join in any discussions so that we can really inspire each other.

I am also going to go offline for a couple of weeks to spend time with my family, reload my batteries and come to terms with my decision to leave my current preschool in order to start at a new preschool with a philosophical profile. I am really looking forward to this new challenge, even though I am sad to leave the children I work with, and have come to love.
It is only to see how the teachers in Newtown laid their lives down for "their children" to realise that this is not an ordinary job - there is a whole load of emotional investment in each and every child. This means makes it impossible to just go to work - I go to be with "my" children. I have MY three children at home, that I love as a mother, and I have all "my" children at work, that I love as a teacher. They are different kinds of love - but they both are strong, genuine attachments - and I know that I too would lay my life for the protection of the children at my work - just as other teachers have done - it would not be something I would question - it would be a reaction.

So now I mourn the fact I have left "my" children.

But I also know that in the new year I will be getting to know some new children, learning more about them and that our relationship will blossom and grow as it did with "my" children I said good-bye to today.

Anyway - I have ideas for next year - to continue my musings on "MY" Reggio Approach, I want to write more about love - Jools Page was one of my tutors during my masters at Sheffield University and she has written wise things on PROFESSIONAL LOVE. I also want to personally delve some more into schemas - there are not many who are aware of schemas here in Sweden, so I would really like to start to introduce it - in my way. I was lucky that Cathy Nutbrown, who has written about schemas, was the professor at Sheffield University, and I was able to participate in one of her seminars which has left a lasting impression. I will also be starting a new university course in January, as will all the staff at the new preschool I will start - "Kritisk tänkande kring värdegrundsfrågor" (Critical thinking about core values) - so I will be sharing my thoughts about the course here too!

But until then, dear blogging world friends - happy holidays!

Thursday 13 December 2012

MY Reggio Emilia Approach - part 2

I think there will be a lot of hopping around as I reflect upon my Reggio approach - I know I said I was going to write about documentation - but somehow I feel the need to reflect upon the environment.

What does a room say?
What do we want it to say?
Do we know what the children want from the room?
Do we know what the children NEED from the room?

Sometimes what the children want and need are one and the same thing - sometimes they are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. I remember when I was in the middle of a mini-project to design a preschool yard with 18 five year olds their ideas were truly glorious but had very little to do with how the ACTUALLY played outside. It was fantastic to hear about the swimming pools, and water slides and the fancy climbing frames - but what they really wanted to do in the yard was dig and build and create dens - as well as run, play team games and role-play - if we were to create environments from the children's spoken wishes there is a risk that we end up with something they neither need or want! BUT if we create environments based on our observations of what the children do, are interested in and their needs - the chances increase that we create an exciting learning environment that captures the children's imagination and stimulates play.

I think it is necessary to take the time to research what is going on at preschool.
Where are the children playing?
Do the children play in the same groups all the time, or do the groups change over the course of a day, week?
Do either boys or girls dominate a particular area of the setting? If so, why?
Is any area of the setting not used, or used very little?
Are there any problem areas? frequent falling out; constant need for a teacher's help to reach/do things etc?

If changes to the setting are needed, it can be good idea to document the reason why the changes need to be made. It is a good idea to discuss with everyone at the setting first - does everyone see the same need - if not why? The changes also need to be discussed -
How will the changes affect the routines?
Do they comply with fire-safety regulations?
How will the changes pedagogically benefit the children/staff?
Does there need to be a limit on the number of children playing there at any one time?

At the time of the change/re-arrange it's a good idea to plan a evaluation meeting 4, 6 or however many weeks you deem suitable, later. This gives the preschool team the chance to voice opinions as to whether the changes have met expectations - exceeded them or have fallen short. If they have fallen short then you should ask yourself why - was it because pedagogues had not been active in scaffolding the children's use of the room - this could be due to the staff not knowing how to use the room - for instance the construction room/area is not being used positively, items are being thrown around, there is little collaboration and/or children tend to run into the room/area and knock over any creations that are being built. If this is the case instead of simply changing the room again, ask yourself what human resources can be used?
Does there need to be a teacher in the construction room building WITH the children for a while?
Is there ample space for the children to save constructions?
Do other children respect saved constructions?
Do children spread toys around and just leave them?
Are children able to put things away in the right place? Have they ever been shown? Is there any sort of routine? In Sweden taking care of the preschool is part of the curriculum, so these are things Swedish preschool pedagogues should be thinking of.

How are doors used? Some settings are open plan, while others are a series of rooms. These can give the option of shutting down areas as the day comes to a close and limited staff numbers make it impossible for children to have access to all rooms under adult supervision.
Are children allowed to be in a room without an adult - with the door closed/open? Why? How long for?

Is the furniture child height or adult height? If child height can the children sit on the chairs with their feet on the floor (feet dangling down actually means they are stressing their backs - think how the tripp trapp chairs have adjustable foot support to allow for proper back support).

Now I have been writing lots of questions - but for me Reggio is asking questions. And listening.
Listening to what the children say.
Listening to parents.
Listening to what children do? I think we need to listen to that not just watch...
In a way the listening part is more complex than hearing words - since many children we take care of do not have their spoken language in full function - either due to their age or for some other reason, and just because they don't talk doesn't mean they do not have plenty to say.
Listening to colleagues.
Listening to myself.....

and then more questions...

Does the setting allow the children to be competent? To be creative? Inventive? Does it allow the whole curriculum to be followed? Does it allow you to say yes, or limit you to no!? For instance when I visited Täppan preschool they had used small fences to naturally prevent running indoors - which means there are no "Don't run" (although I would never say that - I tend to use the phrase - "please walk inside") - I like the fact that the environment instructs the children how to use the room - large rooms do tend to invite speed (which can mean bigger crashes and bumps and bruises), by dividing a room up into smaller areas means that high speeds cannot be obtained - and if low fences/shelves etc are used to divide the room it also means that the open feeling is maintained - it also allows the teachers to keep a watchful eye over the children but at the same give the children a feeling of independence as they experience being in their own space.

Over the years the environment has really become like a colleague. It needs to be treated with the same respect - and we all need to work together. I am hoping that I will be able to visit more preschools to see how the environment works for them - and then to be able to share here. I know I love taking people round the preschools where I work (potential parents/customers as well as other preschool teachers) - as I always feel that as I explain how we work and why we have chosen to set up the preschool as we have - everything becomes more clear, and often they ask really good questions that make you think, or tell you about something similar or a solution that they have used at their own setting.

Anyway - its late - so I will end part 2 here...

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Christmas painting on the light table - You have got to try this

santa red, Christmas tree green - and once it was mixed up it became pepparkaka brown - at this point I added a dollop of the brown colour I had mixed with pepperkaka dough onto the light table to create a wonderful Christmas smell. This time I opted for a group activity - and this worked well. Five children worked, but I would not do that again, four worked when it was the right combination of children - but three was great as there was enough space to get creative.

it didn't take long until the children were turning themselves into pepparkakor (and making fart sounds with their hands)

after a while I drew a pepperkaka man to see how this would stimulate their experience

Immediately the children started drawing their own figures

with all their wonderful ways

some children stayed for a long time, others for just a short time, and new children joined in. It worked so well as those who had been there for a while had the confidence to try something new - like having claws - which the others then tried. Sometimes the child new to the table would come with a fresh idea - such as smelling the paint - and triggering some time spent smelling the spiced paint.

the claw art could be done on hands too

after a another while I introduced some corks - these could be used to create art, but after a few minutes the children had covered them in sticky paint

every once in a while (usually as a new child arrived) I added some more green, red and pepparkaka paint so that all children were able to experience the mixing of colours and also the feeling of lumpy pepparkaka paint

glitter was also added to the paint for extra sparkle and for extra texture/sensory experience. For a while there was just one child and she started building with the corks, the paint made them sticky enough to allow all sorts of building.

she also started experimenting with the paint on her clothes - so I quickly pulled them off and allowed her to paint on herself

next was the floor - and I said it was OK as long as she helped me clean up afterwards

at this point two more girls returned and also wanted to be bare legged. Within seconds they were painting their feet

which quickly progressed to placing their feet on the light table - and being instructed to take phototgraphs of their feet!!

making foot prints was exciting

placing a foot on the light table was also exciting

and then discovering you could ice-skate on the floor... well there was so much joy that I wish I could do this every day...

afterwards the three children helped me clean the floor - there was more ice-skating on the wet bubbly floor, laughing - and actual cleaning - I did not take photographs during this time (when they were using sponges) as I felt I needed to be active WITH them to maintain a positive and safe clean up - which it was. It ended with one of the children saying "Thank you Suzanne, that was SO much fun". They were ALLOWED to experiment - and I allowed myself time to clean up afterwards. The light table did get a bit messy - but it was only 20 minutes to clean everything up afterwards - and the session last 90 minutes - so well worth it!!

Sunday 9 December 2012

MY Reggio Approach - part one

The moment I "discovered" Reggio I knew that this was how I had always been working - it was not so much learning something new, as a confirmation that there were others like me - and that by connecting with these people I could develop my Reggio approach - learn, reflect, test, reflect, learn, document, reflect, test, reflect - it will never end it will never be a finished product - it will always be a process. AND that is what makes me happy - I fear the day when I feel I have mastered everything - because then I think I can only be conning myself. The area of ECE will always be changing, always developing - not just because society is always changing but because research is discovering more and more about, for example, how the brain works/develops and how we learn etc...

I like how Malaguzzi wrote "our Vygotsky" etc that they could take the bits that suited them and mix it up to create the right learning environments for the children, staff and setting at that time. I believe that by taking this line of thinking we can recreate RE preschools no matter where we live in the world - as every setting will be unique - meeting the needs, interests and capabilities of children and staff as well as the layout of the setting.

The third teacher, the environment, is an important partner in our learning processes - how do we as teachers interpret the spaces we work in? How do we expect the children to use them? Do they then use them as we expected - do they create a negative or positive environment (ie do the rooms allow the children to be competent or do we as teachers have to say "no" a lot?). I am not at all keen on the word "no" - I am not afraid to use it, but I would much rather create environments and situations that ALLOW children to explore on their own terms and in a natural, organic way. Through observations I learn more about what the children are interested in, what triggers problems and what works - by documenting these observations I can return to them - and either ensure we do not return to something that did not work OR see how the children have developed and can now manage something that could not previously; or to ensure that ALL children have access e.g. that boys and girls are encouraged to test everything. The preschool ALLOWS them to be who they are and to reach their individual potential within the group.
I think changing rooms around should be a well thought out process that the whole team discusses together so that everyone understands the pedagogical thinking behind changes - if the teachers do not know/understand how the rooms/areas are to be used how can we ever expect them to be able to guide the children? - I also think that if one colleague mentions to one or two others  "do you think it's a good idea if I move this shelf over there and... " does not create a proper pedagogical understanding - nothing is documented as to WHY the change is being made, or the expectations of the change so that it can be reflected upon in the future... it also means that only one person has thought through the process and the others have agreed to it without consideration...

The one thing I have realised is that the RE approach cannot be worked alone. Sure, you can think Reggio, but the whole process is so reliant on DIALOGUE that makes it impossible to be true to the approach as the only Reggio inspired teacher. Listening, observing, documenting, reflecting and dialogue can only be done in part by yourself - to really extend your own thought processes, your own understanding of what the children are doing/learning and what you learn yourself, there NEEDS to be dialogue with other teachers - with other viewpoints, with their "backpack" of experiences that can contribute to your own understanding of the learning processes and situations that present themselves in the preschool setting. In part I think this is why there are many teachers that turn to the internet for inspiration - sharing thoughts and processes with teachers around the world - it certainly is inspiring, it certainly does allow you to reflect upon your own work, which is so necessary when you feel alone in your Reggio ways...

I appreciate documentation as a pedagogical tool - it allows me to see the children - see things that I might have missed in real time. I take lots of photographs, something that the children appreciate (I am always sensitive to children who do not want their photo taken - but I feel these days all children seem so used to being photographed - and also being able to see it straight away, the beauty of the digital world - I remember the days of taking photographs and sending the film off to be developed, waiting a week to collect the pictures to find out if there were any good ones... the digital age is such a blessing when it comes to documentation). The photographs can be taken of the children, or of what the children see (its why I take so many photos of children's hands - this is what the children see), sometimes I take 50 photographs of a child running or walking to see how their motor-skills are developing so I can contemplate what sort of physical activities and games would be the most advantageous at this point in time - it will also allow me to see a year later how they have improved, or whether I have a cause to be concerned...
Some photos are for the children - to allow them to see what they have done, to talk about it with each other, to reflect, to deepen their learning and understanding... to be able to share their experiences with their parents. I don't think I document so much for the parents (except updates etc) but I do expect the parents to read the documentation together with their children as part of the reflection process. Many years ago I started a PhD in museum studies (but realised that my true calling was in ECE), where I focussed on how children and teachers used museums - and I looked at how the information signs were used - this knowledge has helped me with how I design the documentation I put up on the walls - parents have often little time to read - so a short text - (maybe with reference to where more information can be read - eg a folder/book with a more detailed account of the activity/project) is optimal. It means parents can get a quick idea of what has happened - but are then encouraged to turn to their children to acquire more information as to what has happened (as part of my masters in ECE at Sheffield University I looked at how documentation supports children's learning by acting as a memory aid - and photographic as well as written documentation of what the children said made a noticeable difference in how the children were able recount, reflect and expand on a project/event).
As for writing down what the children say or do...

At this point I see how much more complex this post is than I originally thought - "my Reggio" has grown over the years - and I see the need to write this in parts. Partly to make it easier to read - but also so that this becomes a process for me too - that I can get the chance to pause, and reflect upon what I have written, and maybe expand some of the ideas I have already shared... so this is going to be pause one! I feel I need some time to reflect more on what to write about documentation...

Saturday 8 December 2012

Painting on the light table - Just had to share another one...

Santa driving a car pulling a trailer filled with presents
You really have to love how inventive children are - one the four year olds has an interest in cars so for him it was more important to draw cars on the light table rather than snowmen and Christmas trees - but the atmosphere has been Christmassy as we have been making this images - singing Christmas songs together, as well as talking about the magic of the light and how the picture is transferred onto the paper... So I assume that the Christmas singing inspired this child to draw presents in the trailer followed by santa driving the car...

When I captured this child's image on paper he looked at me and said
"Suzanne, du är fenomenal" (Suzanne you are phenomenal) - I have to admit that I was quite taken aback - I thanked him and pointed out that it was him that had created the artwork and that it was indeed him that was phenomenal - big smiles and warm fuzzy feelings all round!

Since the children have shown a great deal of enthusiasm for this light-table artwork I will continue with it next week - introducing more colours, mixing colours, more texture by mixing in glitter, maybe shaving cream too - and some smells - peppermint essence and pepparkaka spices (a Swedish biscuit somewhere between gingerbread and lebkuchen in taste) as well as other Christmas spices - maybe whole cloves the children can grind in a pestle and mortar first... ooo the ideas are popping into my head as I write this... satsuma essence, cocoa....

I am looking forward to repeating the activity but at the same time deepening the experience - I am beginning to wonder how the children will react - will they just want to experiment or will there be some that will draw pictures - will these be the same children as last time? Or will children try something new. The skating style was not limited to just the youngest children - several of the older children that I had expected to draw and image did not (as they do spend lots of time drawing) and some of the younger children that I had expected to just "skate" had indeed made attempts to create an image - sometimes those images got skated over before the paper made the print (as I only did the print when the child said they were satisfied). I am also wondering whether I should take in those children that had a need to explore for a longer time in the atelier individually so that they are not stressed by onlookers asking "when is it my turn?". I have taken over a thousand photographs this week - and looking back on them will help me work out which children would like more paint on the surface and which children would prefer a thin covering - as several children enjoyed painting their arms and hands as part of the process - I am almost tempted to strip those children down to their underwear so that they have the chance to paint their whole body if they wish... (we do this quite often - and those children who painted their arms in this light table painting session are the same ones that cover their tummies with paint too). Since it is the Lucia celebrations, a celebration of light, painting on the light table seems rather appropriate...

Can't wait for next week...

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Second session of Christmas painting on the light table

this session was with the 3-5 year olds - so I was wondering how this would differ from yesterday's more sensory experience. The first snowman made its appearance....
And once the print was made there was plenty of time to experience the paint. This first child really enjoyed the experience and fully explored its properties...
checking how the paint felt on her hands...
squishing it to make noises...
checking how it looked on her hands...
putting hands together slowly and pulling them apart to see how the paint stretched...
almost as much time was spent exploring the paint in her hands...
of course the funny "fart" like noise was very satisfactory and made all the onlookers share in the joy too

and the experience would not have been complete without including more of the body in the experience. This was one of those experiences where my own emotional reaction as I watched was very strong - to see the pure joy, the satisfaction this child experienced while interacting with the paint and the other children - and me was beautiful.  In this blog I will not show the faces of the children I work with - if I did I would be able to share her joy with the world.
"I am going to draw a Christmas tree (julgran) - oh I have drawn just a tree - but if I put decorations in it - it can be a  Christmas tree (julträd) - cat, dog, snowflakes... This child also allowed me to understand one of yesterday's comments - several of the children yesterday had commented that it smelled like chocolate, which I thought was a little strange as its just ordinary paint. Today this child asked me if I was spreading chocolate on the light table - which made me realise that the slight brown look it gets on the light table does make it look like chocolate. I guess that the children yesterday assumed it must smell like chocolate if it looks like chocolate...

This child was so incredibly proud of her print - everyone who came into the atelier afterwards  was directed by her to look at her print "do you see it? Its soo cool. It was magic you know. It was on the light table and now its on the paper. Look at it, look, its so  amazing..." She drew lots of people, a sun and a cat - in Swedish the people are called "huvudfotingar" head-footers - as they do not have bodies - even the cat is one - with three legs!

I painted a thin black frame around the edge of their prints - so the table was filled with lots of black lines. I started to clean and asked one of the children if they would like to help as she looked with inquisitive eyes. She nodded - and 3 seconds later there were 5 girls busy scrubbing the table with very bubbly sponges

it did not take long for them to work out that they could make pictures in this too - but this time fingers were black, not white.

and of course exploring the bubbles was fun too. I love when cleaning up becomes an artistic project that is worthy of its own session!

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Christmas painting on the light-table

white paint on the light table. I had a big sheet of perspex over the light-table to make clean up easier. This first attempt there was too much paint - but in the end I think it was the right experience for this child with special needs (autism) - where the extra gooey feeling of a thick layer of paint added to the experience

the child experimented with how the paint made a bridge between thumb and finger by slowly puling his finger and thumb apart many times...

since it was an idea I had in my head, I did not have instructions, so I made two prints from the first child's painting - but after that I managed to get the paint quantity right. The idea was that the children draw a snowman or a Christmas tree with their fingers in the paint. This child certainly had a go. All the children in this group are aged between 2 and 3 years old.

when she had completed her snowman form I placed the paper on top to create a print - EVERY printing process raised cheers and excitement as the magic of the paint being transferred to the paper revealed itself to the children. After the print she had time to play in the paint.

Most children were not interested in creating a snowman shape - so it was soon a "ice-skating with fingers" artwork

A few of the children used both hands

It was interesting to watch one child create her image and after the print unable to just experience the  paint and the light shining through. It took a lot of encouragement to help her understand that she did not need to produce a product, that it was OK just to play with the paint - as her product was already saved.

another two hand experience of the paint

interesting to see how hands look covered in paint...

...And how it feels

some children worked from the short side of the light table while others worked from the long side

two of the children needed help to get started - this was one of those - I held his  hand as we made a first circle together - and then I let go to see what would happen - and this is what happened with a big smile on his face. I asked him if he was happy that he had dared to try - and he nodded without looking up or stopping making tracks in the paint.

it was magic every time we lifted the paper up

it will be interesting to see when I put the paintings on the wall if the children will be able to match their print to their photograph of their image in the light table?