Puppet Friends

Young children especially love mixed media work. Exploring shape and texture, and processes such as gluing, rolling, taping, and all different ways of putting things together is fascinating for the preschool set. Yesterday at the art table I had two three-year olds and a four-year old working together for much of the morning.

At one point I got out a box of 3-D things to glue on paper–colored macaroni, popsicle sticks and little wooden disks. One of the kids began drawing faces on the wooden disks–really charming first-faces. She named the parts as she drew them–eyes, nose, mouth (a silly mouth!), ears, hair–as young children often do. I started making a face on a disk too, and soon we were gluing the faces onto popsicle sticks and having all kinds of great little plays with our puppet friends.

The young artists loved that they got to use the popsicle sticks to dig lots of glue from the glue stick–and then we had to put masking tape over the whole thing to get it to stay together until it dried. (Waiting for the glue to dry was out of the question!)Using tape and glue makes a little person feel very grown up.

Friend Puppets Hide and Seek Puppets Setting up Puppets

I hope you will enjoy these pictures of our puppet friends. The one where you can’t see the faces is the puppets playing hide-and-seek–by putting an extra wooden disk over their faces.

Hooray for Scribbles!

Young children like to experiment with paint. To a three or four-year old, mixing colors is scientific enquiry. What happens when you mix blue and yellow?  red and yellow?  red and green? all the colors together?–when you’re little it’s a revelation. Many small children perform these experiments over and over, trying out combinations until the paper is covered in what looks like a blackish blob.

Art and Science Converge

Art and Science Converge

Sometimes adults wonder if there is something wrong when a little one’s paintings turn to black. They see them start with beautiful bright colors and then come up with black-ish soup. Does all that black suggests depression? sadness? a lack of imagination? In most cases it is just the opposite. Creative exploration without judgment is important to cognitive development. Pretty is not always the point. Kids need to try out every imaginable combination for themselves, over and over, to understand how what they do influences what shows up on the paper. So next time your little person asks to paint, say yes–and turn them loose!

Words

Working with kids keeps me humble. The other day my friend Peter,  an adorable two-year old, was coloring at the art table. He dropped his crayon and it rolled on the floor. As he bent down to get it  he said, “Oh Lord, what is that child doing!”  and broke into peals of laughter.  I laughed too, because I realized he was repeating something I had said to him as we were playing with model magic a few days before. I was making little objects and he was destroying them as fast as I could make them–so I must have said  that line when feigning dismay in our little game. He has a great vocabulary and a wonderful sense of humor–and apparently he quotes me all the time!

It is so much fun to help kids grow up–to interact with them in a way that helps them feel confident and competent and ready to take on the world. It is also a big responsibility. I hope that  sense of fun and engagement will stay with all our kids as they grow and move beyond the medical hardships they face in their early years. My own early experiences with parents, grandparents, teachers  and others who were happy to let me play and explore and to listen to my observations about the world have made me a more confident and imaginative person, and a better art therapist.

Peter and Tracy

Peter and Tracy

  His parents were very happy for me to share his story, so here’s a picture of the two of us.

 

Me and my grandmother

Me and my grandmother

 

I have also included a photo of me a long time ago with one of my wonderful grandmothers.