Shake Painting

Ok, so I’ll forgive you for thinking that this is marble painting. But ask Jack, it is quite different. What’s the difference you ask? Well this is marble painting in a box, with a lid….or as Jack calls it, Shake Painting. 

Jack really enjoys big art, big messy art. I think he enjoys the physicality of it; big movements, fast movements, loud noises, lots of paint, lots of mess. I don’t think he would even entertain the idea of a structured art activity, not this boy, the bigger and messier, the better. You should see the mess (oh I mean creative art) he made today on the windows…but that’s for another day.

Jack is far more engaged in an art activity that he creates himself; which seems obvious really, he’s following his own creative interests. Over and over again Jack scooped paint into the box, the marbles went in, the lid was closed and then there was some almighty shaking…he shook with his whole body, the noise was quite deafening, Jack loved it!

The shaking was second only to the beautiful surprise waiting inside the box. Aren’t the colour swirls just gorgeous?

When an activity really holds Jack’s interest, he will return to it day after day until the supplies have been exhausted. Who ever said children had short attention spans?

Some time ago I used to feel pressure, from myself and from others, to have a new, fancy activity all set up and ready to go everyday. Each day would be a new experience with new materials. Over time I noticed that these one-off activities weren’t encouraging Jack’s creativity at all, he didn’t have a chance to truly engage with an activity before a new one would be presented the next day.

So I started to leave the materials out, just in case Jack wanted another go. And he did. He repeated activities, sometimes everyday for a week. He started to really use the materials, in his own way, experimenting, exploring, seeing what would happen.

I don’t feel like I need to give Jack new play-scenes or activities everyday any more, he is much happier and being much more creative when he has the opportunity to use materials for as long as he wants and in what ever way he wants. Yes, who ever said children have short attention spans?

So don’t feel like you need to create a new and exciting play/art experience everyday, your little one will probably be much happier and far more creative, when given the freedom to follow their own interests for as long as the wish. Even if it may seem repetitive to us, they are building upon their skills and this can’t happen with one-off activities.

Relieve yourself of the pressure of What are we going to do tomorrow? Have some simple art materials available, with no agenda, and see where your little one takes it. They may just create Shake Painting.

So, lovely readers, what art adventures have your little people created? 

12 thoughts on “Shake Painting

  1. I have got to try this activity with my son! I know he will love it, and will probably wantto return to it again and again as well. I think there is a lot of wisdom in slowing down and letting a child free explore with a previously introduced activity for as long as it holds his interest. That is really the only way people of any age achieve mastery. When the child is ready to move on he will let you know and in the meantime may have found ways to creatively extend the activity in ways a parent would never have thought of.

    • You are so right, this is how we all learn to master something, by doing something again and again, each time learning a little more. And more often than not the activity does evolve into something that I hadn’t anticipated. I’ve had to learn to let go, step back, not direct the activity. With the shake painting, he eventually moved to the easel and started to paint the sounds of the marbles. Jack seems to enjoy painting the sounds of things. But I was thinking as I was watching that you really do need to give them the space and the materials and then walk away; give them the space to just be, for as long as they want.

  2. Your photos are the best Kate! I think the best thing you can do for your child is to follow their interests. Also it’s not our job to entertain our children, I think this is what happens when people continually put out new activities, especially everyday, yikes, I feel tired even thinking about it. And yes, I agree with Karen it’s the only way for the child to fully explore and master the activity.

    • We were talking about this the other day weren’t we? About the child developing a dependency or at least an expectation that we will put out the activities for them, rather than them finding their own ways to play. I think there has been a confusion somewhere along the way, between Reggio-inspired provocations which are open-ended child-led activities which encourage a child to delve deeper into their understanding of a topic or concept and a play-scene or art activity which is all set up including all the materials waiting for the child. These experiences are a great way to engage a child in play, foster their imagination, social development and all the other wonderful things that come along with learning through play but I think we definitely run the risk of our children becoming dependent on us for their play ideas if we do this too often.

  3. “Some time ago I used to feel pressure, from myself and from others, to have a new, fancy activity all set up and ready to go everyday. ”

    I used to try to remind myself of this when I saw my children being bored. And most of the time, when I waited a little, they ended up having a new idea with the existing material… I would never be able to set up new things everyday. I think it would be too much.

    Love this activity! I’ll surely give it a go!

    • This is how true creativity and inventiveness happens, isn’t it? Through finding a new way to approach an activity or material. Whenever I try to do a structured activity with Jack he either isn’t interested or he does the activity and then it is done, there is no where else to go with it. But with an open-ended free activity where he has the materials at his disposal and has to decide how he will use those materials, that is when his engagement levels are at their highest. That is when he will sit (or stand) and create or play for seemingly ages, returning to it time after time. Because it is never done, there is always something else to add, some other way to play/create or engage with the material.

    • Thank you so much Sylvia, I am happy to have found you and enjoy getting to know other like-minded people. Do you think your daughter would enjoy the shaking motion? You could tape the lid shut for a bit more stability or use a smaller container like a plastic food container with a sealable lid. Jack’s physiotherapist said that it is common for children with muscle weakness or low tone to enjoy physical activities like this one because the repetitive motions stimulate the muscles and send a nice sensation through their body.

  4. Pingback: Playful Experimentation: Shaving Cream & Bubble Wrap | An Everyday Story

  5. Pingback: Mirrors & Buttons: A Reggio-inspired Activity for Sarah | An Everyday Story

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