I started working as a atelierista at a reggio inspired preschool about seven months ago after I took a big leap of faith to leave the school I had worked at for almost 15 years as a K-2 teacher. Being an atelierista (art teacher) had been my dream job and I still pinch myself that it actually happened. We all have different crossroads in our lives, some challenging, some exciting and wonderful. For me, this leap of faith has lead to some of the most exciting and engaging creative work I’ve had the chance to be a part of. I love working with young children and providing a rich environment for them to explore and create at their own pace. For me, this is the magic of childhood. Recently we worked on this large scale mural on clear plastic and with every brush stroke I became more and more grateful to be where I am at this chapter of my life. Seeing the children create this mural felt like a dream.
Alas, this isn’t just a sappy artsy fartsy post about the benefits of risk taking. It’s also a how to, so read on to find out how you can do this in your classroom or at home if you’re o so bold.
I bought this plastic vinyl at Joann’s. They sell it by the yard for less than 10 dollars. I think I paid about 8 dollars for this piece with a coupon. It makes a really exciting surface to paint on. The acrylics glide on making it a really satisfying sensory experience for the painters.
*Note* We mixed all the colors with a little white to make them extra vibrant and beautiful.
We started with the plastic on the floor but realized pretty quickly that that was kind of limiting in terms of space to paint. We kept stepping in the wet spots so I ended up taping the plastic to the wall on top of some straw mats to protect the walls. I also threw down a drop cloth to protect the floors.
*NOTE* It’s important to use acrylic paint for this activity because tempera paint will crack off the surface once it dries.
Once the plastic was up on the wall the kids just went for it, painting all kinds of beautiful spring inspiration. The concentration was intense. Some kids worked for a few minutes, painting their idea, while others worked for long periods of time adding important details from their imagination in just the right color.
The only instruction or rule I made was that you couldn’t paint on anyone else’s art. You had to paint on the clear spots. The kids making this mural were 3 and 4 and they had very few issues with this rule. They practiced great communication, collaboration, and teamwork.
The overall effect is pretty outstanding I think. We plan to hang it in a shadow box frame with lights behind it. Since that may take a while I decided to go ahead and share the process, since that’s really what it’s all about. When we get the frame going I’ll be sure to add a pic here. In the meantime, Happy Spring everyone. Thanks for reading along!