Thursday, August 5, 2010

Messy Art Projects

As school has become more focused on academic achievement and test scores, the opportunity for kids to experience art has decreased in many of our schools. After-school is the perfect place for kids to experience art. Now, you can certainly do this in a cerebral, art appreciation way, reviewing the works of great and not-so-great artists, but at the core of the art experience is creation—and creation can be messy.

Most would agree that paint is one of the messiest of art mediums. Paint can end up getting on everything and everyone. So how can you give kids the opportunity while minimizing the negative aspects of messy paint project?

1. Have kids wear a shirt or apron to help keep clothes clean.
2. If possible, have students keep one hand clean so they can open a door, scratch their nose, and turn the water on.
3. Have clean up materials readily available—including water and paper towels, as well as paper that can be picked up acting after it has acted as a protector for tables and floors.
4. If it makes sense, do the art project outside to help clean-up be as easy as possible. Be wary of a messy art project on carpet.

If you need some ideas about what you might do for age-appropriate messy art, check out one of these two websites, which currently offers up four different activities to do with paint, and which has a wide variety of activities to do with students.
Figure out how to contain the mess, but don’t shy away from messy art activities. The act of creation is seldom neat and tidy.

Not so usual celebrations…

August 5th is Work Like a Dog Day. This day is set aside to recognize those among us who work the hardest. Unlike the Work-aholic who works all of the time, the person who works like a dog works really hard to accomplish a task, but will then take time off to rest and relax. At first, a person who works hard might be offended with the thought of working like a dog, especially if they only think of dogs as the pet who greet you at the end of a long day and awaits your petting, playing, and feeding, and then goes to sleep on the floor. Yet, dogs are one of the most hard-working of the domesticated animals.

Some dogs are service dogs. These canines can turn off lights, open doors, retrieve something for the owner, and in some cases even dial 911 in case of emergency. Some dogs are therapy dogs and work in hospitals or convalescent homes providing companionship for the residents—always willing to listen and stay close. Some dogs help the blind while others help out those who are deaf. Then of course, there are police dogs that help arrest criminals, locate drugs, and cadavers. Other dogs herd sheep, pull sleds, or work in the circus. All of these dogs work hard and will stick with it until the job is done. So, maybe to say that you are working like a dog is a huge compliment rather than a questionable statement.

Activities for kids…

Have students work in small groups to research dogs that do different jobs for people. When the research is complete, students should be prepared to share the information with other students.

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