I learn so much from talking with other teachers and being able to explore their classrooms in person or via photographs. I think it is one of the main reasons why I like to share what is happening in my classroom on this blog. One of my fellow coworkers visited a few classrooms and shared some of the wonderful things she noticed during her visit. I absolutely fell in love with the idea of an open easel.
I change what materials and paper are available on our easel each week. At this point in the year, it becomes more difficult to think of experiences that the children have not previously explored. I know that children can learn so much by repeating an experience, and that four year olds love to be empowered to make choices. So an opened ended free choice easel seemed like a great idea! And it worked beautifully.
We put out several sizes and kinds of paper on a low shelf that the children could reach independently. We cut up egg cartons into strips to be used to hold the paint. We had the brushes at a low level as well.
Children came to the easel, chose their paint colors, chose their paper and chose their brushes.
What we saw was so much more experimenting and color mixing. Some children who hadn't been to the easel much, were excited to try it out.
Also, because the easel was moved to be closer to our art materials, some experimenting with mixing media by using items found on the shelves.
We did find that the larger paint bottles with the pumps were difficult to use with the shelving that we had available so we put some paint in smaller bottles that were easier for them to access independently.
We also added water color paints, craypas and silkies.
It is still a work in progress as we explore this new set up with our artists.