Planning to Paint, then Draw

Delivery Method: 

Four girls find a flat sandstone and decide to decorate it with paint. We see their project unfold over three days, with the teacher encouraging the children to plan what they will paint and how to divide the work among the four girls. The girls offer a list of elements: lines, squiggles, and flowers. But they decide to paint only the lines and squiggles first, perhaps because they understand that the flower shapes will be harder to paint or harder to see in the foreground of the other painted areas. After the paint dries, the teacher asks the girls to revisit the plan and explain it to a child who was not present during the work. This method of revisiting is often used to help children become more conscious of the relation between the actual product and the intended product, a comparison essential for editing and/or extending a project.

Once the squiggles and lines have dried, the girls want to paint the flowers initially discussed and also butterflies. It takes some minutes to task out who does what, but the girls have developed some rather skillful methods of negotiation and finally work out an agreement: two working together to make flowers, two working separately to make butterflies. Somewhere off camera they decide to use markers instead of paintbrushes. This decision gives them more control over the details one needs when crafting the difference between a flower and a butterfly. They confront another interesting opportunity after they draw these new elements on paper cutouts: where to place them on the rock. They decide to place them around the perimeter. The teacher gives this layout choice a name, “You have made a border.” This is one of several occasions where the teacher adds the language of graphics during the course of the children’s work.

Think about the teacher’s choice to have the children verbalize their plan before they paint. Think about the affordances of paintbrushes versus colored markers. Think about the way the teacher frames the action with words about strategies and nomenclature. How would you have worked with these four girls within this general project of decorating a rock? Was this video more useful to you to show how young children collaborate or to show how young children render an idea with paint and markers?

Run Time 7 minutes 59 seconds