The following is written by Barbara Benson, one of our Christopherus consultants. I love this article because it gives a lovely picture of how differently children approach the same task. Sometimes people go into Waldorf lower grades classrooms and ask "why are the pictures all the same". If they had opened their eyes a bit further, they would clearly see that the pictures are never the same, even when the subject is the same!
Barbara has sent me photos of the paintings her class did - in the next month I will be undertaking a huge task of putting many many new pictures up in the Homeschoolers Work section of our website - most of the new pictures feature work from children from 4th grade and up. As soon as that task is finished, you'll be able to see the paintings Barbara is writing about - as well as other fine examples of work from homeschooled children!
As fall starts to merge into the cooler winter months in the Midwest, it is a good time to snuggle indoors with our children and appreciate some quiet activities together. One of my favorite things to do is spend more time on crafts and painting. I particularly like to do watercolor painting for we can create imaginative and colorful pictures indoors in spite of the grey weather outdoors.
This past week we have been studying sea creatures in 4th grade in the Man and Animal main lesson. My small coop of 3 girls enjoyed the colorful jellyfish book we looked at and so I decided to do the sea painting that is in Donnas 4th grade syllabus. Early that morning, I had experimented with the colors and directions Donna gave, and learned from a few mistakes I made. I have found that I cant just wing it with water color paintings for older children. If I do it myself beforehand I have a sense of how the painting sequence unfolds and also how long it will take.
I allotted a half an hour for this painting in our coop class and I even had a brief written outline that I made to remind me of the colors and step sequence I wanted to use. I made sure that the reverse color of the group of jelly fish was not later than step three since I found that if I waited longer, the ocean background had dried a bit too much to remove color easily.. For the girls, the important moment was their jellyfish. One child made her jellies at a real angle as if caught up in the ocean current. Another made hers placidly grouped together and more vertical as if the sea was calm. The last child made her jellies smaller and her seaweed quite large. I think the thought of a big gooey jellyfish did not appeal to her! Once the jellyfish were painted and each one had its shimmering highlights of lemon yellow, rose red and ultramarine blue, the girls turned to their vermilion starfish. The room was quiet and focused. Each girl worked slowly and carefully and even my one student who normally rushes with drawing really slowed down and approached each creature with relaxation and attention.
Our hermit crab was last and the girls knew that it would be hardest to paint. We talked about its two fighting claws, one bigger than the other; its eyes and its lovely rounded shell. We even looked at a few pictures of the hermit crab from our read-aloud book, PAGOO. By the end of the half an hour, each vermillion Pagoo was safe and snug in his golden and lemon yellow snail shell.
As the paintings were drying and the girls were cleaning up, each one appreciated the others work and all of them seemed renewed from their watercolor dip in the ocean.