Every now and then I like to give my preschoolers the opportunity to do a completely open-ended art project, where they simply play with materials and come up with their own ideas. This project for three and four year olds was all about experimentation!
In any early years classroom, there are always a few colouring pencils languishing at the bottom of the tray that have been reduced to little more than stubs, too small for the kids to hold properly. Instead of just throwing them away, I thought it would be interesting to see how the children might turn them into art!
After sorting out the pencil stubs by colour, I shared them out equally between the children, and then sharpened the odd ones that were left over, to create a selection of pencil shavings of different colours. The curls and spirals of shaved wood that usually end up in the bottom of the waste paper bin are actually very pretty and delicate!
The kids thought so too, and made use of them in all sorts of ways, turning them into flowers, butterfly wings and even a lion’s mane!
Several children were fascinated by another residue of sharpening – the colourful, crumbly dust from the pencil leads.
One child spent the whole lesson mixing the powder with glue to make interesting effects on the paper (see below).
Others had fun creating pictures with the actual pencil stubs, sticking them all over the paper to make abstract patterns.
The tiny pencils were also transformed into frames for the children’s creations!
I think that this project, more than most, proves just how creative young minds and fingers can be!