We Tried It Every Way, So You Don’t Have To:
Painting with Tea
“Which of these will work best?” “Can I use this instead?” “How much of this would be ideal?” These are just a few examples of the questions we ask ourselves as we prepare activities for our family programs. Project ideas are everywhere, but more often than not, they don’t show all the details. SEEC’s faculty knows that what you see isn’t always what you get. In this blog, we’ll provide a peek behind the curtain and show you an example of how a SEEC educator goes about creating a project and ensuring that it provides the best opportunity for the child to be creative and feel successful. In other words, we’ve tried it a million different ways, so you don’t have to.
The Original Activity
This week it’s all about tea! Our featured activity comes from our Toddler Trailblazers family program, Tea Time. Painting with tea is an activity provided during the playful choices portion of the program as families arrive. Children were provided with watercolor paper, shallow bowls with tea bags and tea, paint brushes, smocks, and wipes. Both brushes and tea bags were provided in case a child felt more comfortable using a familiar tool rather than the tea. A variety of tea types were set out including black, green and herbal teas (hibiscus, passion fruit, cherry, and blueberry). The teas were pre-brewed to allow the water time to cool before the bags were handled by the children.
We don’t give any additional instruction because we want to emphasize the importance of process-based art. We want to encourage the children to create without a pre-determined outcome and enjoy the process of creation without the need to achieve a specific finished product. With this project, children may create something figural/representational or abstract. Whatever the child’s choice, the experience will result in joyful painting and a final product full of vibrant hues of watercolor.
Trial and Error
Here are some of the questions we asked ourselves when preparing this project:
- Which types of tea work best?
- How long should they be brewed?
- What tools work well to paint with tea?
- What should we paint on?
- How do I contain the mess?
- What’s the best way to dry the finish work?
I tried out some of these approaches myself and then I recruited some young friends (ages fives and two) to help me test it out! Here’s what I found.
After all that trial and error, here is what we decided would help most achieve the successful outcomes with this project!
We hope this was helpful and encourages you to try out this activity! Send us pictures of your creations and let us know how it went! Be sure to check back next week for ways to take this activity one step further by making connections to literature, museums, and community visits!