Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Toddler Art Explorers - Bubble Wrap Painting

At my current library, we host several programs for babies, preschoolers, and school-aged, but admittedly there has been a lack of options for the toddler crowd. So I decided to try a program I've done at my previous job: Toddler Art Explorers.

The idea came about when I started getting really tired of doing crafts (or product-based art) in my programs. While I know they aren't all bad all the time, I found that I was doing a ton of prep work to have the kids make something that they'd probably throw away when they got home. Then I started reading about process art, which seemed more up my alley.

With process art, there are no instructions and no right or wrong way to do it. It's about kids experiencing the material any way they want to. It helps children develop fine motor skills, vocabulary, and social/emotional skills through self-expression, among others. You can find some information about the research and reasoning behind doing process art with kids here, here, and here.

Geared toward children ages 12 months to 3 years-old, the basic idea of the program is to set out different art materials, give families the basic premise of the art project, and then let the kids explore. I can't take credit for coming up with the original idea for this program. I took lots of inspiration from the Library Makers blog.

For this session, the focus was on bubble wrap painting. I always start with a hello song and a story related to the art project:

Hello Song: "We Clap and Sing Hello" (Tune: Farmer in the Dell)

We clap and sing hello (clap hands)
We clap and sing hello
With our friends at storytime
We clap and sing hello!

Continue with:

...We wave and sing hello
...We tap and sing hello
...We quietly sing hello

Book: Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier

Art Project: Bubble Wrap Painting

I set out pieces of bubble wrap, white card stock, washable paint, and paintbrushes. The basic premise of the activity was to have the parents tape the bubble wrap to the table so it wouldn't move around. Then the kids could paint the bubble wrap as much or as little as they wanted. When they were done, they could press a piece of card stock to the bubble wrap to make a print!


There's no right or wrong way to do the project. If the child just wants to play with the bubble wrap or paint straight on the paper, that's fine! It's all about exploring the materials any way they want to. **

** The interesting thing for me that I've noticed every time I've run this program is how difficult it is for the parents to just "let go" and allow their child to lead the project. As much as I hammer it into them, they still want to take over and direct. It's an ongoing battle.

From  because I forgot to take photos 
for this portion of the program! But here's the general idea.

Group Project:

I also like to incorporate a big group project. For this session, I laid down a giant tarp with big white paper on top. I had the parents make bubble wrap boots for their child's feet. Then they could either paint their bubble wrapped feet together or step in the paint on a paper plate. Then the kids could dance/move around on the paper. I put on some dance tunes and they were off!

How It Went:

I thought the bubble wrap boots would either be a huge hit or a huge disaster. Luckily, it was the former. They also liked making the individual prints and one child decided to just paint directly on the paper. Parents commented on what a neat idea it was that they hadn't thought of before. So overall, a win-win!

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