At first glance this may look like there may have been some learning about what happens when yellow meets blue. I think that might have been going on as well, but the real fascination was with trying to get the water into the pipette.
After some struggle, Greysen is pleased with finally getting some color in there . Although I was kind of thrilled that different greens were coming together, Greysen’s joy came from the accomplishment of filling up the pipette. No conversations about color mixing today, just this scene of competency.
When children encounter a new tool, however seemingly simple, it can be helpful to give them a few minutes to explore the tool on its own. After a brief introduction, such as explaining expectations (e.g., “these sharp sticks need to stay at the table”), allow a few minutes for children to hold and explore the tool itself. With tool in hand, children may imagine the possibilities, exposing a tools potential. After they have had time to examine the tools, provide the art medium.
In this instance, I gave Greysen a pipette. She squeezed it, turned it around and pretended the pipette was a medicine dispenser for a bit. When I sensed a lull in her ideas, I asked if she was ready for the watercolor.
In most artistic endeavors, it can be challenging for adults to set expectations aside for the entire duration of the experience. This is especially true for art tools. We generally want the paintbrush to be dipped into one color at a time, the pipettes to hold water, the rolling pin to roll rather than stamp into the dough… We have expectations.
Just as children are learning about the potential and limits of art materials, they are also learning about the tools and deserve time to understand the possibilities of each in their own time.