Nursery Workshop

“Our older children had a fantastic time learning about Frida Kahlo, Observational drawing and our younger children were fascinated with looking at facial features of themselves and others and exploring with a variety of mark making materials. Hannah was fantastic at adapting her approach and she was actively involved in the planning of the sessions for each of the children. The children were able to gain so much knowledge from her experience and it is definitely something we would love to do together again! Thankyou so much!” Head of Early Years Practice at the Nursery.

Last week I was thrilled to be working with some very young learners at a local Nursery in Colchester. I was asked to teach portraiture to children of 6 months to 4 years old. I was given an hour in each of the 4 classes, 0-1years, 1-2 years, 2-3 years and 3-4 year olds.

The youngest group created a large face on the nursery floor, with multiple pieces of paper stuck down together. The children loved feeling the paint in between their fingers, and some even put it into their mouths. The children got involved and made some definite marks on the large paper surface. The tools provided a sensory element, some rough, some smooth, for the children to explore. The children were encouraged to use the tools and their hands and feet to make marks for hair, eyes, a nose, a mouth and cheeks. The children also used the edge of the paper to explore marks further.

The 1-2 year old group made some awesome collages starting with photographs of themselves as a base. I provided a variety of sizes of different features such as eyes, mouths, chins etc. The children were encouraged to name some of the facial features, make some of their own choices and use the glue themselves. All of the children participated gladly, in two groups of four. The activity didn’t take long but they all seemed to be engaged and have fun. The children knew roughly where to put sunglasses, eyes and mouths etc, even when they were clearly not images of their own facial features. Sometimes they wanted to use features for other uses, such as an eyebrow became a tail. Fantastic imagination. They learned about gluing accurately and sticking things down for a purpose, not only for an abstract image.

Using a Frida Kahlo information/inspiration board I made and brought along with me, the children were asked to create their own portraits. Photographs of each child were printed onto background paper, and they needed to use the pre-cut leaves, parrots, flowers, monkeys and butterflies to create a similar style to that of Frida Kahlo. The children were interested in the colourful board of imagery, and I was able to tell them about Kahlo’s incredible attitude to life and work, and how this comes through in her paintings. Staff said that the children don’t usually pay attention to where they need to glue something, and this activity was good to help them learn about accuracy and reasoning behind artwork. The children told me they enjoyed the session.

A large sensory still life arrangement had already been gathered and put up for the 3 – 4 year olds. It involved a comfortable area with cushions and soft dolls, two tables with plastic plants and drawing materials. The underneath of one of the tables served as an entrance to another tented area which was dark inside with a number of light objects including torches and light up cubes. The underneath of the table had many ribbons hanging down like jellyfish tentacles. All of the children participated gladly. Most of the children tried to follow the task accurately by drawing what they saw in front of them, not things from their imagination or memories. Some children were extremely successful at depicting some shapes such as a frilly leaf, pansy flowers with spiky stamen, the mini sofa, and some plastic doughnut ornament shapes. Some were able to colour these objects in, others focused on details such as the shines or textures of the objects. A small number of the children became distracted with the still life and using it as a play area, but with some encouragement they made some drawings. I was so impressed with what most of the children had drawn. There were clear leaves, flowers, torches, drawings of pencils and plastic doughnuts. They had definitely learned about observational drawing.

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