Cotton Swab Painting

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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