Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sharpies and Toddlers

We tried writing with permanent markers for the first time a few days ago.  It's been a while since I have introduced a new art medium so our first few times were spent exploring these new tools.  When introducing a new technique, medium or tool to the children we take time to get to know the parts and talk about what we notice. 
"These are permanent markers, " I tell the children, introducing them as if they were friends.  "They have special ink inside that makes a strong line.  We have to treat them extra specially and just use them on paper."  I hold up the pen so everyone can see.  "Here is the cap.  It pops off.  Put it on the back so we remember where it is.  You can hold the white part, here." I point to the middle then point to the felt tip, "This is where the ink comes out so try to not touch it."  I write a bit on the paper, moving the marker back and forth.
"Ok, now it's your turn!"  Everyone gets a marker and the first few minutes are just child and pen, opening and closing, figuring out the mechanics, the feel and the smooth plastic casing, and testing out the tip on a piece of dark blue paper.

"Look, dots!" GW says.  
"Don't touch it, just put the lid here!" warns SW
"It's a 'W'." says GH
"Mooon!" says T
"Mama!  Gamma Cacky!  Papa! Kai!" says SC

Our first exploration started out by the elephants joining us at the table.  We had been talking about the different parts of the elephants and I talked about the long, curved lines that make up their back, tusks, trunk and legs.  We took some time feeling each of the pachyderms before using the markers.  Then the elephant family made a home at the middle of the table while we drew.  

The next day we talked about all the different types of lines we could make by holding the marker at different angles or pressing light or hard.  Everyone was very interested in the bold lines that are unique to these markers.  Almost everyone used both sides of their paper.  
Adding this tool to our repertoire will enhance our observation of our world and find a new way to tell its stories.  By beginning our knowledge of this medium the boys are able to create a natural mastery, which can be later applied intentionally as they utilize their skill.

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