While trolling Pinterest the other day, I ran across this blog post touting cotton swab painting as a good pre-writing activity. I’ve painted with cotton swabs before and haven’t ever thought of it as a good way to develop a pencil grip, but the determined look of the little boy in the post had me convinced we should try it.
Little O and I broke out some gouache paints and cotton swabs and watercolor paper. I gave him one cotton swab per color, but he like to keep one swab in each hand at all times, so the colors got pretty muddied by the end of the session.
Overall I was pretty pleased with the amount of experimentation Little O did while engaged in this activity. He drew all kinds of lines (straight, curvy, circles); tried out making dots with the end of the cotton swab; and pulled on the tip of the swab to elongate the cotton and then dragged that across the paper to see what kind of mark it would make.
This kept his attention for at least 30 minutes, perhaps longer. He went through 4 or 5 pieces of paper before he was satisfied. As far as developing a pencil grip, I didn’t really try to direct him in one way or another. I just enjoyed giving him the materials and watching what direction he went with it. Perhaps when he’s older we’ll try some directed activities that are more geared toward pre-writing. (Practicing specific kinds of lines, i.e. drawing circles and filling them in, slanting lines to the right or left, circles and waves clockwise, counter-clockwise, etc.)
A friend of mine needed some last-minute babysitting. I wasn’t busy, so I said, “sure! bring them on over.” (Plus I owed her a favor as she had done some last-minute babysitting for me a few weeks earlier. My only dilemma was how to keep the kids happy while they were over at my house. Luckily we had some fresh snow, so I mixed up some spray bottles with water and food coloring, and let the kids go crazy in the back yard. It was a hit.
I’ve seen people do this activity with eye-droppers or condiment bottles. These kids were perfectly thrilled with the spray bottles. We put them on the “stream” setting and tried to get them to go as far as we could. The littlest one had a bit of a hard time getting her fingers around the trigger, so I wished that I would have had a squeeze bottle for her. Alas, not one was to be found at my house. I’ll need to pick some up at the dollar store next time I go.
Next time we do this I think I’ll mix up the type of dispensers and have a spray bottle, a squeeze bottle, and maybe a watering can (Little O cannot get enough of the watering can.) If you do this, prepare yourself from the cold as the kids won’t want to come back inside, and make sure the kids are wearing coats with a synthetic material on the outside. That way if the colored water gets on their coat it will wipe right off.
My grandfather used to tell me that babies needed to look at high-contrast images for their eyes to develop properly. Turns out that little bit of information is not entirely accurate. Babies prefer to look at high-contrast images because their eyes still haven’t developed fully, but they can see quite a bit and don’t really need to look at high-contrast images for their eyes to develop. If you’d like to read more, click here.
They still prefer to look at high-contrast images, and so for those of you who have an infant or know someone who is expecting, this book could be a good gift idea.
This book has no words, just a bunch of high-contrast images from a few great contemporary artists. Some of the artists included are Keith Haring (Radiant Baby shown on the front cover), Julian Opie, Bridget Riley, and Josef Albers.
The images were chosen wisely – there are faces, animals, (see the duck above), as well as some abstract images. Even my two-year-old had fun with this book. I especially enjoyed it because I felt like I was exposing him to a tiny bit of contemporary art, just on his level.