Ramps and Cars

Two of our youngest classrooms have shown similar interests lately. In the Silver Room, everything has been about trains and tunnels, while the Cloud Room children have been exploring ramps and wheels with big, fast movements. Since the children share similar interests, and they visit the art studio on the same day, they decided to work together in the art studio. Ramps, tubes, tunnels, cars and trays of paint were set up as a provocation to explore painting along with big movements. We were curious if we would learn more about their interest while also offering them an opportunity to see some visual marks made from movement.

At first, the children were surprised and somewhat quiet upon seeing their friends they know from the playground, but they quickly warmed up to each other and had a blast exploring the paint together. The children enjoyed dipping trains and trucks into trays of paint and then driving them around the table creating a variety of painterly tracks. They explored rolling their paint covered vehicles inside of  tunnels, on top of tunnels and down ramps

One student quickly figured out that he could stand on a step stool and roll his truck down a ramp.

Ramps are a simple thing but provide so many opportunities for discovery and pre-science thinking (gravity, force, friction, inclines, trial and error, hypothesis, and more). By watching the children experiment with various materials on the ramps, as well as problem solve when they don’t get the result they are interested in, we are watching their thinking and learning in action.

After the success of the first exploration, it seemed as if revisiting the experience again would be an interesting next step. Repeating and revisiting familiar experiences is an important step in deepening learning and understanding. We wondered how the children would respond or engage differently or what common themes we would see emerge.

The exploration was set up again, with a few changes, such as a more narrow table, some tape “tracks”, and various movable props to drive around, over and under. The children from both classrooms were drawn to the kinesthetic aspect of the experience. After dipping the vehicles into paint, they used large sweeping arm motions to roll them around the perimeter of the table creating a variety of tracks.

The tunnels, bridges and ramps were again a big hit for the children to maneuver around. These “obstacles” engage their natural curiosity and desire to problem solve in order to see their desired outcome in action- usually over and over again.  

The children continued to be most engaged with the kinesthetic element of the exploration. At this age and stage of development, it is all about movement and working to coordinate their hands and bodies as they explore their world.

The following week’s mission was to add color to our black and white track prints. The set up on the table remained the same (minus the ramps & props) and we invited the children to apply paint to the pieces using a variety of methods. The color palette was kept in the cool color family to allow for free color mixing without creating any muddiness.

“We made that…. Where is the ramp?”

Photos of the children working the previous week were on display nearby and unprompted, many children saw them, studied & pointed at the images and seemed eager to make the connection to their prior experience. One student from the Silver Room noticed a picture of the children working on the collaborative mural from the week before. He pointed out a Cloud Room student, in the photo and then pointed at him in the room.

Bingo dotters enable the children to apply paint freely without the added step and (spill potential) of dipping a brush in paint. The children loved the rhythmic sounds that the dotters made on the table and enjoyed seeing how far they could stretch their arms to make a mark! The variety of tools for painting prompted lots of experimenting and trial and error to find ways to make the tool “work”.

Paint rollers were one of the tools offered and were definitely a favorite- showing once again that the kinesthetic aspect of this experience is what seems to engage the children most. Along with movement, many children were also very interested in the sensory aspect of touching the paint and painting tools- resulting in many blue fingers!

Reflections by Danya Lanphear and Johanna KaLhoun, Art Specialists

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