I introduced the idea of painting collaboratively by reading the book, We’re Painting by Carol Snyder before embarking on the group project of the day. The illustrations in this book are fun and colorful and the story line is simple and accessible for toddlers and up.

Because we are making a keepsake book at the end of this five week session I needed to capture the art on paper. Instead of painting directly on the plexiglass wall I taped up old maps. I found the maps in a free bin at a teacher resource store called RAFT. Unlike a white canvas the maps offer an interesting background for paintings that don’t go edge-to-edge. Additionally they stimulated ideas for what to paint such as people, trees, towns, and islands.

Some children are naturally drawn towards painting and will cover an entire piece of paper without any prompting.

I love how this student experimented with four brushes at once.


Interestingly in a different class on the same day this student decided to try four brushes too!

Here are some of the finished map paintings hanging on the drying rack. I love how each class collaboration resulted in such a different energy and style !

Halloween is a large part of culture in Santa Cruz, CA so to honor this holiday we made masks. I know many toddlers have anxiety and fear around masks so I thought by making one for them self they could demystify the object and take control of their experience. I started the project out with a fun read about two hamsters that live in an art room and break out of their cage to make masks.

I prepped the base of the mask by cutting diamonds for eyes (which are much easier to make then circles), hot gluing a large Popsicle stick at the bottom, and punching a few holes at the top for final touches of pipe cleaners and/or ribbon.

I wanted this to be a done-in-a-day project so we glued items directly onto wet tempera. The plate gets a bit soft at first but once dry it stiffens back up.

We used feathers, foam shapes, felt pieces, sequins, pom poms, pipe cleaners, and ribbon. For this project I encouraged what I’ve dubbed as “glue control” where we make dots or drizzle lightly instead of making huge puddles.

Here is a line up of finished masks and happy students.