Last night's adventure with the children, creativity, and Vacation Bible School: we explored paint.
Well, only one kind of paint: watercolor. Years ago when I was first the Arts and Crafts director for VBS, I asked my sister about the activities I thought about doing so that I could have a sense of what would work and what wouldn't. My sister said, "I've never met a kid who didn't love to paint." Now, after years of VBS, I can say the same.
She gave me great tips that non-caretakers of children wouldn't think about: make sure the paint is washable so that it comes out of clothes. Make sure it's non-toxic--I always check, although I want to believe that all art supplies that children might use are non-toxic. Make sure every child has his/her own set of paints; sharing is not everyone's strong point.
On Tuesday, we made objects out of air dry clay. We painted the objects last night. We used watercolor paint. A few years ago, I gave the kids both kinds of paint: tempera and watercolor. I was surprised that watercolor worked so well with clay. It's easier to set up and clean up, so last night, we used only watercolor.
I also gave everyone paper plates and paper, if they wanted a different experience. And we had another successful evening.
I was intrigued by what elements captured which attentions. Some children intently worked on their clay pieces with great precision. A few went right to the paper plates. Some preferred to dip their paintbrushes in water to watch the water change colors.
As always, I am happily surprised at the enthusiasm of the children. Not one says, "Forget it. This is stupid. I'm not doing this." No one said to me, "You're stupid, and I can't believe you're making us do this." These are reactions I expected when I first started doing this work with VBS. And year after year, the children enter into the activity: some are meditative, some cautious, some enthusiastic, but all are willing to try. There's not a lot of judgment: very few children reject their creations.
I don't think I have a better group of children than elsewhere. I think that we lose that quality along the way. We lose it for a whole host of reasons.
Some of us are lucky as we recover some of that spirit along the way. But so many are not.
I think about the way the world would be transformed if we could all be like my VBS kids. I want to think about the ways we could make that possible.
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