Open-Ended Arts and Crafts

Yesterday Cora worked on some “tissue paper stained glass.”  To do this: Tape some clear contact paper to the window (sticky side facing out) and adhere tissue paper to the surface.  I pinned a range of examples on a Pinterest Board.  And, below you can see Cora’s take.

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I was first introduced to this technique by a friend with a son just a bit older than Cora. Once when we went to their house, we found a huge bowl full of tiny bits of tissue paper her son had produced.  The pieces were a beautiful mix of orange, yellow, and brown and we were going to use use them to make fall leaves. As we sat down to work, her son lost interest and went running to an adjacent room.  She tried to draw him back into the activity a few times, but he was only interested in throwing the tissue paper around the room, anywhere besides the sticky paper.

The leaves turned out beautifully, the naturalistic shape of  real leaves, but I recall my friend being a bit disappointed that her son wasn’t quite as invested in the project as she was.  I told her that it sounded like he got what he needed out of tearing the paper, he was, afterall only 2 years old and is, I presume, more used to being told to stop tearing things up.  I have to remind Cora of this often, one too many times when a library book is in her lap.

Since Cora did enjoy sticking the tissue paper, I tried making some stars and the moon with her.  She wasn’t really interested and the star we made felt more like my star than her star, or even our star.  It just didn’t feel authentic enough for me. So, we set all that aside.  Until yesterday.  She was not napping, as usual, so I committed to setting my grading aside to play with her for awhile.  After afixing some tissue paper to the back of a spaceship we’d made for Buzz Lightyear, she asked for some scissors and commenced cutting.

Cora likes to cut paper.  Sometimes for 30 minutes at a time. She has no goal in mind.  I think she just likes to feel the power of using a tool and seeing a result. (She’s her daddy’s girl.)  In the past 2 months she’s gone from (1) needing me to hold the paper for her so she could use both hands to make the scissors open and close, (2) to opening the scissors, then placing them in one hand so she could hold the paper in the other, (3) to opening and closing them with one hand.  Amazing.

As she was cutting, I noticed there was sunshine streaming through the window, rare in Central Ohio in January. I held some of the tissue paper up to the window and we watched it change as the light shined through it.  This reminded me of the tissue paper stained glass and sent me searching for the clear contact paper.  I only found a few scraps but that didn’t seem to matter.  I just wanted to let Cora play with the tissue paper and the light. Turns out she also enjoyed played with the tacky surface of the contact paper.

She stuck pieces up and she took pieces down.  In the end, she took all the pieces off as if cleaning up a stack of blocks.  I’d trade the chance to her experiment in her own way for a tissue paper Valentine any day.


3 thoughts on “Open-Ended Arts and Crafts

  1. I tried the sticky contact paper thing with my preschool art class. I had some feathers, plastic bottle caps, glittery foam star pieces, and colored wood match sticks in plastic cups set up by a window sill. Everyone had a chance to try it as part of several choices available, but only one child showed much interest. In any event…it looked like so much fun on Pinterest, but didn’t excite the kids the way I had thought it would. Chocolate playdough, sponge painting, sitting inside a large box (which had previously been painted at another session) and making marks with felt pens were much more exciting for them. In my choice studio classes I see that certain kids gravitate to particular activities and others don’t. I have one students who always wants to paint for instance while others only choose painting occasionally. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to creative exploration! It sort of reminds me of when my older son was two and I had a realization that for him getting outside for a walk didn’t mean going from our house to the local park, it meant being swept up on an adventure from finding an interesting bit of plastic litter to stomping in a puddle to crunching through the leaves. He didn’t think in a linear fashion of getting from our house to the park. It was the journey not the destination, sort of like that old saying, “It’s the process not the product.”

  2. Pingback: Toddler Time @ The CMA: The Finale | Outside The lines

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