Multiple Layers of Creative Expression in the Toddler Room

Multiple Layers of Creative Expression

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When a child holds a pencil in their hand are they really thinking of what they are about to do? Does their mark on their page have meaning to them? Children- especially toddlers – are not always able to communicate their thought processes and make meaning of their work. As one can see the toddlers have spent a great deal of time and effort in creating their work. We have encouraged them to come and revisit their pieces with different mediums in order to add layers and depth. What does a toddler think when given back their work to revisit? Do they know that they were the original creators of this piece? Does it hold meaning and recall a past feeling or memory? I can’t help but question why we do this. Are they interested in revisiting their work? Do they want to revisit it? My only method of answering these questions are through careful observations of their process. Some of the children returned to their work and layered their paper immediately; returning to the original area of design- whereas others went above and beyond their page to reach to blank areas and paint, mark and create there instead.

Our toddlers are at various levels of development. Some of them are speaking and communicating fluently with words and some are not. And even though they are able to communicate openly they often cannot find the right words to tell me why they did what they did. Some children like AH are able to tell me that they created a particular “thing” like an elephant. Others aren’t even aware of creating a “thing” and are more interested in just mark making.

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Will the children come back to their work in the future which is displayed on the wall and recognize that it is theirs? Will they even care? How deep does their mind hold the memory of their creative process? I’m beginning to feel like I have more questions than answers here…. What would happen if we provided them with these same mediums all at once… would they choose one over another over and over again? When we began this process we only provided the children with one medium at a time beginning with wax crayons; each medium was chosen for them and then taken away when they were finished for the day. We then revisited each piece with a different medium. Would they have been happier and more satisfied with the same medium as before? Did painting provide them with a more relaxing experience over the dry chalky texture of the chalk pastels? How will we know? I wonder if the answer is in the amount of time they spend at their experience with a particular medium. When I look back at AK and her experiences I recall that she spent a great deal more time with the paints and crayons then she did with the chalk pastels… the pastels left marks on her hands and a texture unlike anything else we have explored or used which is why I chose to photograph her hands… such beauty but somewhat a mess… a beautiful mess…

 February 5, 2014

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