Hello, my fellow home childcare professionals. Today’s collaboration is painting ice with watercolor paint. During the winter months, the frigid temperatures afford us lots of ice play and inquiry. When it’s too cold to go outside, let’s paint ice.
- Containers were filled with water, and then I added some glitter dust (optional)
- Containers of water were placed outdoors overnight (Midwest Arctic Freeze)
- Containers were left outdoors for two days to freeze (harden) thoroughly.
- Take the containers indoors (see the supply list below)
- The small containers can be placed in a larger container or separate containers for children
- Drop cloth is iessential- you will need a drop cloth to help contain the water melt, glitter, or paint
- Liquid watercolor paint or chalk watercolor paint pads ,or food coloring
In the Midwest, the minus degrees with wind chills are not favorable conditions for young children to play outdoors, especially othosewho do not like wearing mittens or gloves. The wind that comes off the great lakes is bone-chilling cold. So here is an activity that brought the outdoors indoors (I encourage home daycare providers to bring the outdoors inside).
- Glitter (optional) – buttons, nature bits, and beads can be substituted
- Liquid watercolor paint or watercolor paint pads
- Smocks / old t-shirts/aprons
- Dropcloth or ( shower curtain / old bedsheets / old towels/cardboard boxes – these are alternatives )
- Container or a tray for ice (deep enough to contain the melt)
- Children – yes, we have plenty of them in a home daycare 🙂
The morning of the activity, I retrieved the frozen container from the outdoors. I then asked the children what animals they wanted in their play, and they all chose some later animals. At first, the children were given ice and glitter to explore. They felt the ice and used the brush to dust off the glitter from the ice. After some time, I added the watercolor paint to the muffin tin.
Here are some helpful tips If you consider doing this activity in your home daycare.
- Think small group – I suggest doing this activity with an an 8:1 ratio or less. I can handle up to six children, that is 6:1. However, only five children were present this day. (The children in my home daycare often engage in process art activities; they know how to collaborate, take turns, and are very self-sufficient)
- Use smocks or some covering to protect their clothes from the paint and water.
- Know your children – you may need to assess which child needs more guidance. Which child may need food coloring instead of watercolor paint (the lickers) – I know you all have had that child that licks everything. Also, know which child is not ready to be offered glitter.
- Use a drop cloth, shower curtain, cardboard, paper, newspaper, old comforter, or old towels – something to absorb the water and contain the mess.
- Allow children enough time to engage in color inquiry.
- The entire ice block may melt – some children love engaging in that kind of science while in your environment for the day.
- Do not throw the glittering water down your drain! I suggest throwing outside as glitter in the drain may cause plumbing issues, and I know firsthand the expense that comes from that- it’s not worth stealing your joy that way.
Process Art allows children to create freely, to make the art their own; they are more creative in this process. For example, painting this ice afforded creativity, color inquiry, and blending colors, and this was a full day of science. Here is the thing, years ago, I didn’t think ice or water was possible on my carpet. Years ago, I would be the first person to say – I have carpet, so this can not happen! Fast forward six years later, and I am here to tell you it is possible with preparation.
What changed for me was learning the benefits of messy play, process art, and meta-cognition and applying those learning to educate young minds. Instead of telling the children what shape to add to a piece of paper, the number of eyes to add, and how to add the face or nose, instead of doing that, I now honor the children and see them of capable. I now see them as whole beings with the ability to make art on their own. Yes, I scaffold, speak the expectations and set boundaries for my blood pressure to remain normal. However, that is not doing the art for them.
Some of the rules/boundaries I set – painting will remain in the area the paint is offered. Children will not transport the color to my walls, tables, chairs, etc. Children will respect their friends’ personal space; they will not hurt their friends – with an unintentional elbow bump or paintbrush jab; being up too close is not permitted when using tools (a paintbrush can be a tool).
If you are still apprehensive about engaging in this kind of indoor paint, I suggest doing this activity outdoors. Also, remember it is important to remind parents not to dress their children in their Sunday best as children will get messy. Smocks will help the mess, but smocks are not always mess-proof. I will reiterate that glitter is optional – ice and watercolor paint without glitter is fine.
Consider what kind of benchmarks are accomplished when children do this activity.
The children were collaborating, creating, taking turns, and using language in a small shared space – these are skills we want our children to cultivate. They learn new skills painting ice which is different from painting snow, paper, leaves, cardboard, tissue, or foil paper. This activity also helps with sequence. What were the steps in getting the color onto the ice block? If you notice in the video, some of the children brushed the glitter off the ice before they painted it. They kept doing that until the paint was introduced to them. They were conversing with each other using language using words and demonstrating creativity through this technical process while exploring different properties of the paint on ice. Please see the Illinois Benchmarks here
I would love to encourage my fellow daycare providers, childcare providers, and home educators to help children master these creative skills by offering the children various materials to explore.
I have come a long way – I had to study, research, and find reasons to help children learn creatively. However, I had to do the same to help myself; the person holding me back from this art was me. Here is the thing – we don’t know what we don’t know – I had to learn the benefits of creative play on children.
The mess can be contained with a drop cloth.
I wish all educators to encourage children’s creativity, imagination, and artistic expression while learning. I hope home educators may find ways to incorporate creative process art in your homes. Home educators can design our curriculum how we want it – I hope we tap into that more.
Until next time – I am Suzette Salmon, Miss Sue, Sue Sue – your fellow home daycare provider working with you.