Exploring natural materials in artistic ways is a key component of Reggio Emilia principles. This activity encourages children to explore tree bark as they paint on it, inspiring them not only to be creative, but also to recognize the color, texture, and natural elements of the bark.
The bark that we used for this activity was found on one of our numerous walks. Before painting began, the children were able to examine the bark closely. We talked about the texture, and compared the tree bark to other objects that the children were familiar with.
When the paint was introduced, we discussed whether painting on tree bark would be the same as painting on paper. The children were encouraged to paint with both their hands and a paint brush, so that they can experience the texture both ways.
Children learn through their senses, meaning the more hands-on experiences that they are exposed to, the more connections they are able to create between all of these experiences. It is important to have discussion with the children as you do these kinds of activities, even if the children are not yet verbal. conversations not only help to grow a child’s vocabulary, but the more conversations that are modeled for a child, the more competent children will be when they are able to begin forming their own conversations.
We use natural objects for a number of different content domains, not just science. Explore placing these types of materials in different areas of the classroom to see how the children utilize them. Some objects that you might use include:
- sticks and twigs
- stones (large enough that they do not pose a choking hazard)
- pieces of bark
- small tree branches or limbs
The possibilities are endless, let the children do what they do best, use their imaginations to explore their world.