Rainy Day Art

Rainy Day Art


It’s raining, it’s pouring, it’s time to introduce Bella to the joys of watercolor.

Inspired by the Bookworm, I purchased First Art: Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos by Mary Ann Kohl for Bella’s birthday, a gift I hope will brighten her whole year. My plan is to try to do one art activity a week.

Of course, it’s taken me several weeks just to get around to starting. I finally bought a set of tempera paints and a variety pack of brushes this week and today brought them out for the first time.

I put some water in a mini-muffin tin and put a bit of tempera paint in several of the wells. Then I gave her about half a dozen different sized brushes and a piece of paper. She was enchanted.

The only problem was that her little table is only big enough for one piece of paper with the muffin tin on top, so we shared. I know I should have shown her how to paint and then stepped back, but I adore playing with watercolors. So it devolved into her mostly playing with the water in the muffin tin and occasionally dabbing at the paper and me painting page after page, swirling the colors she dabbed on until everything was dull and gray. But of course that’s fine too. One of the activities in the book was simply allowing the child to play with colored water. Whatever process Bella wants to get involved in, as long as she’s having fun. Process not product.

One funny thing was that she decided to allot me one brush. It became “mommy brush.” All the others if I tried to pick them up, she’d yell at me, “No!” And if I tried to put my brush down, say to eat lunch or play with Sophia, she’d pick it up and hand it to me, saying, “mommy brush.”


She kept lifting her brush into the air and laughing. What joy!

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  • No apologies necessary for the rant…it was late when I posted, and I didn’t express myself as clearly, or just focused on one part…the written vs. spoken English is a very interesting point, Melanie.  I’ve always understood this subconsciously, but it now makes me think back to the many job descriptions I’ve responded to that mentioned both aspects.  I wondered, back then, why they distinguished between the two, but it does make perfect sense.

    And the practice part—you’re preaching to the choir, now!  I agree how it stretches kids’ vocabularies, or even just stimulates them, as so much more comprehension at an earlier age is available through auditory learning than through visual reading.

    All in all, I agree with you that there are failures to address the problem on multiple levels, but with the texting/im’ing generation (see, is that even a WORD?) will anyone really care about it’s/its, your/you’re anymore?  Even spell check isn’t utilized these days, and that email about “the human brain only needs the first and last letters of the word to be in the right place, and we fill in the rest automatically from context” is making the rounds again!

    One of my pet subjects, too, so thank you for your response.

  • Great article!  My son’s sophomore English teacher shared with the parents at Back to School night how much he hated grading papers, because the kids are such horrible writers!  I think many of the other parents were offended, but I completely understood, having graduated with a BA in English, and having dealt with trying to help various friends/boyfriends/co-workers throughout the years with their writing.  A 17 yr old guy I was dating in high school finally got the concept of subject/predicate sentence structure, and I could only relate the feeling to what I experienced when I finally understood some abstract algebraic concept.  Don’t know if it’s right brain/left brain stuff or what, but some people just will never get the hang of writing, it seems.

  • I do think there are some people who may just never get it because of the way they are made, but I think there are many, many more who have simply not had a good foundation laid in their earlier years. If they don’t read very much and if they don’t write very often, then of course they’re never going to get it; but not because of some inherent chemistry or physical structure of the brain.

    What I discovered in my years as a writing teacher was that I could tell almost immediately who read for pleasure, who wrote on their own. The students who only read and wrote when it was assigned to them struggled. And yeah, I suppose you could argue that’s correlation not causation, the ones to whom it comes easily do it, those who to whom it doesn’t don’t. But I think too that writing is like playing baseball or playing a musical instrument. You only get good at it when you practice, practice, practice. And you especially need to read good stuff so that you have good mental models. If you never read, or read only drek, then of course you can’t produce.  This is the inherent fallacy of giving kids books with controlled vocabulary. I can see a limited usefulness when they are in that first learning to read stage so they don’t get discouraged, but once they are over the initial hump, you should start giving them books that are just a little bit harder than they think they can handle.

    And lots of read-alouds of stuff they can’t read on their own helps them to internalize vocabulary and sentence structures, the sound of written English. Read alouds aren’t just for kids who can’t read yet, I think they have a vital role throughout the elementary years until the student can read adult literature on their own. And of course reading aloud is good entertainment for all ages. one never really outgrows the ability to enjoy a good book shared with a friend.

    Lastly, a huge issue is that most people don’t consciously realize that written English is really a different language than spoken English and one can be fluent in one without being fluent in the other. Learning written English is really almost like learning a second language. It’s a whole new set of rules and customs.

    Sorry for the rant, it’s one of my pet subjects.