In preparation I gathered all of my materials and decided to offer a focal point: a pear. We had just had pear for snack. I like to bring the entire fruit to the table, cut it into pieces and talk about what we notice. I did the same thing today before we painted but made a clear distinction that this time the pear was for our hands. We could smell, feel, listen to, lift and roll it carefully.
"You can hold the handle. That is the long, thin part. The bristles gently brush the paper." Everyone checks it out, but is eager for paint.
EK uses a bit of each color, mixing them together both on the tray and on his paper with short lines and moving the bristles of his paintbrush back and forth. He uses slow, careful movements, which for him is something I rarely see. It's as if the paint is calling for him to slow down and notice the magic that is happening. He points to the resulting orange and looks at me. I smile and we talk about the color change briefly. "You mixed red and yellow. It became orange!" He thinks about it for a moment before continuing, this time using his index finger as a painting tool
EC focuses on mixing the red and yellow paint on the tray. She dips first into the red and places it in a new cup, then ads some yellow. She repeats this process in another cup and then the flat part in the middle of the palette. I ache to remind her about the paper. It's sitting plain and white directly in front of her, but as she works it becomes clear that she knows her focus is on the tray: the textures of the paint colors coming together, the depth of the shallow cups of the palette, the way the brush can scoop the paint, the way the brush slides against the plastic.
The possibilities for sensory experience while we were painting was so vast, even as I tried to simplify their process so they can focus on the color and the paint, they found ways to participate and process in their own way. Each child had their unique need and approached the experience following their internal plan while we painted. They each built upon the same skills, in their own way. The sense of satisfaction was there and soon everyone was handing me their paper and saying, "up!" so I could hang it from our drying rack. And what I learned from our art together was that each unique way was the right way. There is no best way except for that which calls to the child.