Today was the first day of our “Island Aloha” summer camp! We packed a lot into the day, and we had way too much fun with coconuts. Process art activities for preschoolers is something very dear to my heart. While crafts are all well and good (and I do my fair share), letting kiddos go through the process of making art teaches so much! Without an end-product, they’re free to fully explore art materials, movement, shapes, and their own sense of creativity. Okay, enough rambling . . . onto painting with coconuts!
Before we set up the art activities, I let the kids check out the coconuts. We shook them and hear the coconut milk moving around. We felt the hard, rough exteriors. We observed that they looked “hairy”, brown, and round. One of the children even remarked that the coconuts looked like bowling balls, with a round shape and three “eyes”. After this, we took the coconuts outside for the art activities.
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My summer camp co-teacher and I wrapped a kiddie pool with butcher paper first. We placed a bit of blue tempera paint on the paper, then added a coconut. I explained that this would be like marble painting, but on a larger scale. Four or five children circled the pool, lifted it up and got to work! They moved the pool up and down, this way and that, rolling the coconut through the paint and along the the paper. Each kiddo got a turn of course, and many of them wanted a second and third turn.
After a while with our giant coconut painting project, we brought out the kiddie slide. This was, by far, the children’s favorite activity! They were curious as their teachers wrapped the slide in butcher paper, then quickly realized what we were going to do. “We’re going to roll the coconuts down the slide!” I placed the bottom of the slide into the pool because I didn’t want the coconuts wandering too far! We put some paint at the top of the slide, then the first child had her turn! The kids had so much fun with this, and most of them wanted to go again and again.
We found out that letting gravity take its course was the best way to paint using the slide. When the coconuts were pushed too hard, they bounced off the slide and the pool, careening into anyone too close to the pool. Needless to say, a few of us were pegged with coconuts! I still have a little blue paint on one of my shoes!
Based on how much the kids talked about this art activity, I count it as a success! Yes, it was rather messy, but we made sure to use washable paint. I loved watching the smiles on their faces throughout the painting process. The only thing I would do differently — art stations for the kids. We had over 10 children at camp today, so they all had to be really patient waiting for their turns. They all did a great job doing that, and most of them enjoyed watching each other, but I didn’t care for the amount of down time they all had. With 5 kids or less, though, this set up would be perfect!
Have you ever let the kids paint with coconuts? What other process art activities for preschoolers would you suggest?