A while back, an Early Childhood educator friend of mine posted a link on Facebook for Tall Painting. (I’m going to put the link to this at the end. If I put it here, you’ll go and look at it and be mesmerized and watch YouTube videos for the next hour and you’ll never get back to me. DO NOT GO DOWN AND LOOK FOR IT RIGHT NOW! WAIT!) Within minutes of his post, about a dozen other Early Childhood folks responded with “Oh, I want to Tall Paint.” I wanted to Tall Paint, too, for months. But the only time I’m with little kids is during Sunday School, and I wasn’t sure I could carve out the time. And, they’re three years old; I wasn’t sure they could really do it well. But I kept thinking about it.
Two years ago, Music Camp popped up on the church schedule. It’s a wonderful week of intensive learning, practice, and rehearsal for kids who’ve finished first through sixth grade. Maybe I could do something with the Pre-K’s and Kindergartners that week. Something that included Tall Painting. I talked with a staff person who said sure I could. We set times and I asked a couple of friends to help teach. I began to plan the event, which, in my head, I thought of as “Mrs. Lintz Wants to Tall Paint Camp.” When we needed to publicize it, that seemed like an odd title. I had other things planned, as the Sunday School hour just isn’t enough time to do all the fun things I want to do with little kids. “Mrs. Lintz Wants to Do Things with Kids” also seemed like an inappropriate title, and somewhat scary, as well. We settled on “Fun with Friends.” That first year, the “fun” was mostly Tall Painting. We did lots of other stuff; I remember making strawberry jam. But we Tall Painted four of the five days. I found a tempera paint-based recipe on Teacher Tom’s website. (Again, I’ll have that link at the end, but DO NOT GO NOW! Especially if you are a teacher. Teacher Tom’s blog is even more compelling than the Tall Painting videos.). Two days, we worked together on a group painting.
The other two days, they had individual Tall Painting structures and paint. Hilarious fun.
The next year, I lengthened the schedule to the three-and-a-half hours that Music Camp was planned, Monday through Thursday. “Fun with Friends” had a science theme. There was still quite a bit of Tall Painting paint that had been sitting around since the previous year. Because the recipe calls for so much glue, it doesn’t work all that well for regular easel painting. I tried; disaster. I hated to just toss it, but it was taking up space. So, we Tall Painted once, on Physics day. (Yes, I think there’s a Physics component, as the colors move and spread and mix.) I set out the stacked boxes, in the center of a larger, sided box. “What do you think this is for?” I asked the group, several of whom had come the previous summer. One little boy was wide-eyed with expectation. “This is Tall Painting,” he said. Oh, yes, indeed! Another successful experience.
This year, “Fun with Friends” had an art theme. One day was Collage, another Drawing, one Sculpture, then Painting, then Printing.
I thought any art-based week would be incomplete without Tall Painting, but I wanted to use real paint. The tempera paint Tall Painting was loads of fun, but the colors muddied and the end result, after drying, wasn’t as attractive as I’d hoped. At Wal-Mart I found just what I was looking for-small paint sample bottles. There were eight different colors, and I thought there would be seven or eight kids. Just right. If there were more, I could come back for a couple of extras. It might be more expensive than the tempera-based glue paint. But maybe not lots more, given the cost of a giant bottle of glue. I weighed all the issues, and went with the little bottles. It was so very much the best idea.
The paint samples were a smaller amount of paint than the cups of tempera, and kids could only have one, instead of two or three, so it was more “Short Painting” than“Tall Painting.” But, oh, what a success! I wrote the numerals 1-7 on small cards, and each kid chose a card to determine the order in which they would pour. (No arguing about who goes first. Mary, our teen-aged teacher, poured the eighth bottle.) When it was their turn, they reached inside a bag and pulled out a paint bottle. (No arguing about color choices.) I opened the bottle and threw away the lid. Each child poured their paint, “right here in the middle,” onto the top box. They were spellbound.
The paint spread out in feathery designs, much better than the tempera paint did. The colors stayed more true and separate. It was great!
I need to gather up all my receipts to hand in for reimbursement. But maybe I’ll start putting a little cash of my own in reserve for next year. I’d really like to buy enough paint that each kid has two bottles, at least, to pour, maybe three. I’d like to make a taller stack of boxes, too. It’ll be great. Put it on your calendar to be sure to come back a year from now, to see how it turns out.
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth
Genesis 1:1 (KJV)
This is one of the verses we talked about last week at Fun with Friends. The first thing we learn in the Bible about God is that He created. He still creates. He made us so that we can be creative, too. We can have ideas and think about things and create things. When we’re done, we can look at them and say that it’s good. It’s biblical. The Bible tells me.