Little Hands Art: Chalk and water

A little girl works with chalk and water

Water, brushes, chalk, and black paper were all that we needed for this week’s Little Hands Art. The ideas was to explore how water, chalk, and black paper interact.

Last week I had a lot of parents come in late, and wished I had a made a sign explaining what we were doing, and that it was okay for their children to do something completely different. For this second week of the program I used our library’s very large whiteboard to write down some “possibilities” for what children might do including:

  • draw with the chalk, then brush water on it
  • brush water on the paper, then draw with the chalk
  • dip the chalk into the water and use it to draw with
  • “just” paint with the water

A child draws with chalk and waterThe children were unexpectedly enthralled with the idea of “painting” with the water. I have read in several places that water painting is a surprisingly popular activity with young children, but I was still skeptical. Which only goes to show you what I know, because the level of enthusiasm was extremely high. In fact, I would guess that about 75% of the children wouldn’t even have bothered to touch the chalk at all if their parents hadn’t been encouraging it.

A family works with chalk and waterThe soaking wet paper provided an extra challenge that had not occurred to me ahead of time. I thought that this would be a relatively clean project with very little cleanup. I almost didn’t even put down tablecloths, since I figured that plain water would be easy enough to clean up. Luckily it only takes a few seconds to throw down tablecloths and I figured it couldn’t hurt, because what a mess! It turns out that whatever dye they use to make the paper black runs when it gets wet. So everything was covered with purpley-black water. I had taped the cups of water to the table to keep them from being tipped over accidentally, but one enterprising young lad managed to pry his off the table and promptly spill it on the rug, where it stained. (Of course the tables covered in colored water was an art opportunity in itself. I had some coffee filters ready for a different program later in the day, and we had some fun putting the coffee filters over puddles of black water and watching the filters soak up the dye.)

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