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  • Skribentens bildSuzanne Axelsson

Playing with Paint

I think what really fascinated me about AnjiPlay was that in social media there is a large focus on the risky play element of the approach... which means that from the outside the full spectrum of the play and the approach cannot be fully seen or appreciated... and this is why I have chosen to focus on writing about these other elements first... I believe that if these posts spike an interest you will easily look up AnjiPlay and discover more about it yourself, I hope that you do, and that these posts offer an complement to what is already offered via social media...

I am a person that loves working in the art studio with children... so I have to admit I was anxious to see how the children worked with this language of learning and play in the AnjiPlay kindergartens. And I was so happy to see such large spaces being created for the children to express themselves and explore/experiment with colour. What I saw was a very sensory experience of paint, where the whole body could be engaged. I would love to spend more time understanding more about how art and aesthetics are used in the AnjiPlay kindergartens - as it was also clear that there was more than what I was able to witness, as I could see traces of other artistic experiences around the schools (and I will share more of that in a later post)

The outdoor paintplay areas were designed so that children had easy access to the materials (and to cleaning up the materials afterwards). They also had large spaces to paint on, so their whole bodies could be engaged. They had different materials to paint on... from rocks, to clay, to different surfaces on the wall.. wood, glass, tiles, brick, concrete... as they will all not only produce different effects as the child paints, but will also feel different through the arm as the child applies the paint...

There were a lot of tools to choose from and test, as well as the children being given access to copious amounts of water, buckets and colour to experiment with too.

It rains frequently in Anji, so there is no shortage of water. The water in the taps is non-potable too, it needs to be boiled first if you want to drink it, so there was not that issue of children drinking the water out of the taps etc, like I have seen back home, where the quality of water through hosepipes does not match the quality coming through the tap... in fact I am lucky here in Stockholm as we have such high quality of water coming out of our taps that it can be equated to the quality of water sold in bottles (I have worked on various water projects over the years together with experts... so I share this information from the experts that really know).

I know that not all places around the world are going to be able to give children the same freedom with water that the children in Anji have. But still the freedom of movement, the space to explore and the time... is something that can be focussed on instead.

The first images are showing a selection of the surfaces the children can paint on...

The following images are of the tools, storage and cleaning up facilities that allow the children to feel empowered in their creative actions..

above you can see the pipes that allow the wall to be washed... you turn on the red tap to the right and water sprays down the wall, helping to wash the walls (but also add another dimension to the experience)

many of these areas were for both cleaning and experimenting/play

free access to materials

and I loved that many/most of the materials had cultural connections... not just materials for children... but real life materials to test out

soap hanging in stockings... to make clean up easier and a few extra images...

despite the fact that there were 500-600 children in some of the kindergartens I was fascinated by the fact that the children could find small quiet areas for a more personal play. There seemed to be room for big play with many and also BIG play with a few, as well as smaller play for those who chose to... in the end the educators in AnjiPlay preschools have created many spaces within the one that allows choice.

some areas were busy and filled with many projects both collaboratively and side by side... the play and paint spilling out between the areas... behind me to the right there was a part of a slide that was lying down and had become a vessel for water and colour exploration that the children climbed into as well

in one of the preschools there were small houses designed for the children to paint on and in

there was painting for standing as well as sitting... and different kinds of sitting arrangements... allowing the children to keep on making new explorations and discoveries... not only with the paint, colour, water and tools, but also with their whole body.

here is a quick snapshot of one of the indoor art studios... I will go into this more in later posts

indoor storage

here is a small outdoor outhouse that was an art studio the below images are from the inside.

Hopefully this post has given you inspiration as to just how BIG art with paint and colour can get... the sensory experience, the collaboration. I understand that not everyone has the space, or the materials, or the access to the water... but what this post can do is challenge youur thinking as to what DO we make available to children, how much space do we give them? Does making a mess limit us from how much freedom the children are given? How often do children use paints outside? Could you think of tiling a wall outside so enable easy wipe clean painting? what else do you think would work in your setting?

What limits you? and why? and are there any ways around this? To create a creative freedom for the children in another way that is permitted in your setting?

I will be sharing some films in the near future about the painting areas of AnjiPlay... so keep your eyes open on my facebook page for those!!

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