My students and I recently had an impromptu “messy play day” during preschool. The weather was gorgeous, and I wanted to spend an entire day outside playing and learning. We played in the mud, drew and wrote with chalk, got the goop out, made fairy houses, and splashed around with sand and water. The favorite activity by far, though, was a simple preschool art project I set up.
Preschool Art + Science = Splat Painting!
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A few days earlier, the preschoolers and I enjoyed creating a piece of art together. We were inspired by Fantastic Fun and Learning’s Paint with Pom Poms idea, so we decided to do that on a large scale. The fun we had with that art project is the inspiration behind our splat-filled messy day art.
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The set up was pretty easy for this project. I grabbed a long length of brown butcher paper and set it in the gross. I chose the brown because it was a bit thicker than the other butcher paper we had on hand. I used tin cans to hold down the edges of the paper. A stepladder was brought out and set up as well. For the paint, I used liquid watercolors donated to my school by Discount School Supply. Since I know how paint-happy my students are sometimes, I diluted the watercolors with water. The paints are very vibrant in color, but I wanted them to last longer during this activity. Once everything else was set up, I placed pompoms on the butcher paper.
I then invited the children to come explore. We had started talking about splat painting and gravity the other day, so the kids already had some background knowledge. Some of the children immediately put the pompoms in the watercolors and ran to climb up the stepladder. After they dropped the painted pompoms onto the paper, I asked them to tell me what happened. “It splatted!” “It made a crazy shape!”
After a few tries on the ladder, I had some of the kiddos stay in the grass and drop the pompoms. When asked what they observed, most of them pointed out that those splats weren’t as big. When I wondered why, they said the pompoms had farther to fall when they were on the stepladder. According to one of the girls, “that pompom fell from higher, so it made a bigger splat!”
This led into a variety of experimentation with the painted pompoms. They were dropped from child-height level, from the top of the stepladder, from down close to the paper, and they even brought me into play (“since you’re taller, Miss Mary Catherine!”). They also tried swinging the pompoms side to side, and some pom poms were thrown at the paper too.
I loved watching them try out new techniques, and I especially loved hearing them discuss why and how the different splats were created. Combining scientific exploration with art! This led into a great conversation about what gravity is and how it works. I am always amazed how how children’s brains work!
Once we were happy with our splat-painted masterpiece, we pinned it to the playground fence to dry. It’s now hanging in a place of honor in the school hallway, right above where the children’s backpacks are. After our messy play day, I had the children sign in by answering a question, “What was your favorite part of our messy day?” Can you guess which activity won that spot? 🙂
Do you have any special preschool art projects that your students/children just loved? Feel free to share them in the comments below.