Springtime in Oregon started early this year, and the children have been watching our surroundings closely for signs of the changing season. As the weather grows warmer, we notice many changes in our yard: seeds that we have planted are beginning to sprout, leaves are budding on the trees, and flowers are blooming in all corners of our outside space. Spring flowers are an amazing thing through the eyes of a toddler; the signs of growth we track (stem growth, leaves, buds opening, bloom!) are visibly changing every day. This teaches us something about time, patience, memory, and nature itself.
Something we have been enjoying immensely is finding places where our interest in flowers can intersect with our ongoing explorations of art materials. One afternoon, we noticed a rose in our classroom was wilting, so we brought it to the table with blue liquid watercolor, watercolor paper, and paintbrushes.
The children each had their own ideas about what do do with the rose - some wanted to paint directly on the bloom, some wanted to pluck petals off and incorporate them into their work, some wanted to use petals as brushes. We explored the smell, texture, and absorbency of rose petals that afternoon.
The next week, I set up for an outdoor studio provocation by taking apart a lily bloom, stem, and leaves. I arranged them on the studio table, which was covered with white paper. I mixed some colors that I hoped would reflect the color of the lily, and placed pots of paint and brushes around the table. Then I invited the children in.
Immediately, imaginations were sparked. Paint brushes were eagerly taken up, paint colors claimed, and then shared. At first, the flower parts were painted around, and then they were touched, moved, painted on, and became part of the artwork.
When one child declared "I'm painting a rainbow!" this idea became interesting to everyone, and many rainbows were made that day. Some wanted to fill as much paper as possible with one color, while others were interested in what would happen when the colors blended.
Natural materials are inherently interesting to interact with and we keep our spaces at Tumbleweed stocked with beautiful and interesting natural items. It has been wonderful to interact with something as vibrant, striking, and ephemeral as spring flowers, and we are all eager to see what the season will bring us next.