How Window Crayons and Reflections Boosted Creativity and Learning in My Home Childcare.
As a home childcare educator, I always seek creative ways to engage and stimulate the children in my home daycare. Recently, we explored process art with window crayons, battery candles, and flashlights, which encouraged the children’s curiosity about reflection and symmetry. Not only did this activity provide an excellent canvas for creative expression, but it also enhanced their learning in various areas. Here’s how:
- Reflection and Symmetry: Painting on mirrors allows young children to explore the concepts of reflection and symmetry. This is also a learning standard in science.
- Light and Shadow: By using the candles and flashlights, the children can learn about light and shadow, which enhances their understanding of how different light sources affect the perception of artwork.
- Creative Expression: Painting / drawing on mirrors provides a unique canvas for creative art expression. Children typically paint on paper, cardboard boxes, acrylic easels, and canvases, but a mirror offers a different texture. This allows the children to experience colors and shapes like the circular marks in the photos.
- Spatial Awareness: Children build spatial awareness when creating on a reflective surface. They need to be mindful of how the image appears directly in the mirror and in its reflection.
- Critical Thinking: Young children can develop critical thinking skills by analyzing the impact of using hard or soft hands on their artwork. They also need to make decisions about the markers’ placement, angles, and intensity. If they press too hard, the marker smushes, whereas applying less pressure affords smaller lines or less messy work.
- Art History Exploration: For educators with older children, you can tie the activity to artists who have created on mirrors. I am not an art teacher, but I am sure some artists have used mirrors or reflective surfaces in their work.
Collaboration and Communication: I have a small group of children in my home childcare who collaborate, share ideas, observe each other’s work, learn from each other, and solve problems together. This social-emotional balancing is critical in the early years.
Encouraging children to lead their creative artistic process can have several positive outcomes.
- It fosters creativity and imagination by allowing them to explore without constraints, leading to unique, meaningful creations.
- It empowers children to make decisions and develop a sense of autonomy and responsibility for their creative choices.
- Child-led art can be a medium for self-expression, allowing children to communicate and share aspects of themselves that may be difficult to express verbally. It encourages curiosity and exploration. Providing an easel or accessible art materials in your environment can help children create naturally and may serve as a coping mechanism during distress.
- Actively involving children in the artistic process boosts their self-esteem and confidence, and we know how proud they are of their creations. As educators who work with young children, we frequently encounter this situation.
Some days, I set up the provocation before the children attend school, but I am very flexible. A preplanned art provocation can be successful depending on your daycare space, the age of the first set of children coming to school, and the group size. Many home daycare providers/family childcare providers have limited space and sometimes use the same table for meals, activities, circle time, science, and art. In addition, having a mixed-age setting where the younger children move about the classroom, touching, pulling on toys, and making discoveries might make a preplanned provocation daunting.
This is where flexibility comes in. This creative art provocation was an on-the-spot setup on our activity table, which serves as our art station and plant table. It took little time to place the materials on the table while watching all six children in my environment. Impromptu setups can have positive impacts if you are organized and have easy access to your materials.
Placing the mirror, crayon paint, and flashlight on the table took little time. I usually leave the materials and observe the children’s approach to using them – their apprehension, use, imitation of their schoolmates, exploration with materials, and duration of their play.
Does my daycare have boundaries? Yes, it does. Boundaries exist even in a yes environment. It is important to discuss some classroom rules. This helps with classroom management, and it prevents chaos and burnout.
How do I establish some art rules in my daycare? We write on material offered in the classroom, not on furniture, desks, walls, carpets, etc.
When I was done placing the items on the art table, one of my toddlers immediately walked to the table. Awe-struck by the materials, she quizzically looked at me. I nodded, and she knew that signaled ‘yes.’ I sensed she needed acknowledgment to use the crayons to mark the mirror. Reiterating that, although I have worked hard to create a ‘yes’ environment, we have boundaries. I admired her unspoken words when she asked permission to use the crayons to scribble on the mirror.
If you are considering doing an activity like this, please have some rules in your environment so the children know what is allowed. Table discussions, one-to-one activities, and everyday Communication can be sustainable ways to remind children of the rules. Make it pleasant, not just when things go wrong.
After the children were finished, this is what the mirror looked like. I took this photo at the end of the day while cleaning up the daycare.
The following day, I wiped the mirror with baby wipes and cleaned it with a paper towel and vinegar. The good thing about window crayons is that they easily wipe off. This art process can be repeated as long as the children are interested. You can add or subtract different variables to extend their play investigation further.
Teaching Soft Hands by Incorporating Practical Life Skills
Please be familiar with the children in your care. Some children may not know how to handle delicate items gently. I train the children in my daycare to have soft, gentle hands, and we incorporate practical life skills into our everyday learning. We incorporate using real forks and spoons at meal times. Sometimes, we use authentic china dishes and cups, pour milk from jugs, and the children learn to clean up their spills. We use glass painting pots, wash the daycare windows, wash items in big tubs, and hang dry them. Real mirrors are used for exploration and portraits.
Again, I suggest teaching the children some of the above skills before offering them mirrors to paint on.
Ways Home Daycare Providers Can Use Art Materials
If you are a home daycare provider and are hesitant about incorporating art, paint, markers, or crayons into your environment,. I challenge you to start teaching the children how to use these items. Let repetition be your friend. Invent songs, games, and stories to teach the children what is appropriate—model examples for young children to learn from. Ask your older three-, four-year-old-, and five-year-old children to help manage your classroom.
Assign Classroom Helpers: Ways the Children Can Help You
• Ask them to remind their friends where to use the art materials
• Allow them to be the watchkeepers.
• Allow them to help guide the younger children.
• Allow them to interrupt you – yes, I love it when my older ones get my attention fast, especially when younger ones are about to throw rocks, knock some toys down, step on toys, or even hurt another friend.
Keep creating and facilitating these young children; this. This will create a respectful guide to help you maintain classroom management.
In early childhood education, every interaction is an opportunity for learning and growth. Through the simple yet captivating act of exploring light, reflection, and artistic expression, young minds embark on a journey of discovery.
Providing a ‘yes’ environment within carefully set boundaries empowers our children to explore, create, and inquire. Mirrors, CDs, and window crayons can become a gateway to understanding symmetry and reflection and unleashing their innate creativity.
Flexibility in setting up provocations allows us to witness the wonder of a child’s curiosity firsthand—be it through a preplanned arrangement or an on-the-spot inspiration. In these moments, their eyes light up with fascination, igniting a passion for exploration and learning.
At the heart of this approach lies the balance between guidance and autonomy. By respecting limits, we grant them the agency to make choices within a safe and nurturing space, fostering their cognitive development, sense of responsibility, and respect.
As educators and facilitators, we witness the growth of these experiences, understanding that within every scribble on a mirror or a curious gaze lies a world of learning waiting to unfold. Our unwavering commitment is to fuel their natural curiosity and establish a solid foundation for a lifelong passion for learning. We take pride in creating an environment that stimulates exploration and discovery.
Through these simple yet profound activities, we invite children to enter a world where imagination knows no bounds and curiosity leads the way.
Until next time, I am Miss Sue, working daily in the trenches with you.
Xoxo Miss Sue / Sue Sue