Watercolors: A Medium for Fostering Engagement

With nature as a possible source for inspiration, I set up watercolors for Greysen underneath our lemon tree. We do not have an easel, so I hang an art board from our fence. I offer her two jars of watercolor, blue and yellow.


Today, I hung up her watercolor higher than I usually do with the intention of giving Greysen a different vantage point from which to paint.


Sometimes Greysen paints with long strokes and other times she splats, but today she did neither and instead painted in a small space right at eye level. I was intrigued by this technique, but not wanting to interrupt her painting, I held my tongue.


She painted for a few minutes and put her brush back in the jar and began to move on to something else. To encourage her to reengage with the paint without asking her directly to come back, I chose to comment on her efforts.



I noted aloud that there were many blank spaces surrounded by lines of watercolor and ran my finger over the paint as I spoke. I basically commented on the way she was painting.



This comment brought Greysen’s attention into the small details of her work. She ran her finger over the paint, and then picked up her brush and continued painting. I again pulled back and watched her.




Without praise and without commands, I was able to re-engage Greysen in an interesting activity. I tried to choose not only my words carefully, but also had to decide whether or not to speak to her while she painted.









Toddlers’ attentions can be fleeting, but as any parent who has tried to distract their child from something will know, they can also be determined and focused.


Today, I encouraged Greysen to stick with an activity a bit longer for the sake of supporting her developing attention span. Who knew that painting would be the ideal place to encourage Greysen to stick with something a little longer?

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