Something to wRite about…
Last week as I observed M work on her art creation, I recalled an article that Teacher Tom wrote many years ago Just the Right Amount which has had a huge impact on the art process of children over the years.
I was mesmerized at how consumed and focused she was in her play. First she would use just one glue spreader to spread on the glue, then she grabbed another. Next thing you know she is scooping the glue and dripping it from the spreaders onto the paper.
Next she proceeded to pick up the glue pot and scoop out the glue with the spreader. By this time the glue was oozing off her paper onto the table. She would periodically glance at it on the table and it didn't seem to bother her. I didn't say anything, I just stood back and observed and admired. As Lisa Murphy says, "The best teachers have bite marks on their tongues."
Soon after the spreaders were dropped and her fingers came out! She started to spread the glue around with her fingers. By now she was fully immersed in her project.
And that was it, she said she was done! I explained to her that I would have to carefully lift it up and place it on top of another larger piece of paper so that I could set it aside to dry. She said, "It's going to take forever to dry!"
I can't wait to see her again to show her what her creation looks like now that it is dry. I wonder what she will think, what she will say, if she will reflect on the process...
Years ago when I first entered the field, I feel like I remember having to "ration" supplies as we only had so much in our budget to purchase supplies each month and there were three educators that had to use that money. I would never say things to diminish their sense of creativity if they were "using too much", however, I did feel bad limiting supplies especially when they expressed they wanted more. It wasn't until I opened my own program where I had control over how much I had to spend and how I would allocate my funds that I felt fully in control of what children could use. I always budgeted enough for art supplies especially paper, glue, paint, stickers, shiny things and wiggly eyes to name a few top contenders. I also focused on shopping at thrift stores and dollar stores to get more for my money. I also have parents donate items to the program.
I can distinctly remember one Christmas in 2017, some of the children were creating Christmas cards and they kept placing foamy stickers on top of each other piling them up along with globs of glue. My mind went to ... oh no, I don't have many foamies left... maybe I should remind them there are others that may want to come and create art. I looked around, no one was near..... I saw the joy in their eyes and heard the enthusiasm in their voice about who was going to be so lucky to get that card for Christmas from them. And reflected that some of the kiddos didn't come to the art centre very much so this was a rare occasion that I could not stop them from creating what they wanted to with how much they felt was just enough. I also thought that if someone else came to the table and wanted some foamies, then we would have to work through it. But guess what... no one else came to the table and guess what... no one ever knew how much they used!
"Playing with extremes is how we learn about self-limitation, which is at the heart of self-regulation or self-control. When we're not permitted the opportunity to explore limits, it means we are under the control of others, leaving us with two choices: rebellion (the natural human response to external control) or obedience (the unnatural one), neither of which tend to contribute much positive to our self-identity or our ability to think for ourselves." Teacher Tom
So the next time your child is "using too much" stop and think.... does it really matter, do I now need to put a limit (limits should be placed ahead of time), can I find another alternatives- dig in your cupboards and bring out other things for them to use. I do this quite often. If there are limits, they should be set out ahead of time, and example could be "Just so you know, we only have a little bit of wiggly eyes, I have divided all that I have between everyone and have given you each a bowl with what you can use." And in this instance, I have also noticed some others haven't come to use their share and have worked together with that child to see if they will be using it and would like to offer up to another child and most of the time, the child says others can use their share.
Now I need to go and replenish the glue and the loose parts materials
Angela Roy, Early Childhood Educator
My family moved to Lake Country in November 2021. After 9 years of operating my preschool from downtown Kelowna, I opened up my preschool from my home in February 2022.
I will often post on my preschool Facebook page stories about my preschool and things we are doing etc. But then I decided I should utilize my webpage and start writing on here. I am in no means a professional writer, but wanted to give it a shot. There may be grammar and spelling mistakes, and I’m ok with that (please do not shame me for this!)
This is me, in the moment and sharing a part of my life alongside my preschool program. Feel free to comment and share your words with me if you choose. Happy reading ✨