Feb 22, 2016

Toddler Art Class: Tea Painting

A perfect example of process over product!

Art Project: Painting with tea bags
tea bags
warm water (I tried cool water and it didn't work as well)
thin cardboard sheets (I get these donated from a participant who says they come back in her drycleaning order)

  cover art Ruby's tea for two / Wells, Rosemary

I also incorporated one of my favorite fingerplays into the second class called, "Here's a Cup"

Inspired by: Fantastic Fun & Learning Blog

 What Kids Do: get the tea-stained water onto their cardboard via any method they can think of.

Some artists preferred to fill their whole page:

while others drew images (this is a rhinoceros, I was told)
One artist figured out that she could swipe her wet teabag on the leftover red paint on the tables from last week's project and get pink on her art!

Many bags of tea were explored more fully with all the senses: 
 and Smell
 And some of the artwork was quite textural:

But to be honest with you, this project did not hold very many kids' attention longer than a few minutes and much of both classes ended up looking like this:
(note the blurry movement)

Hindsight Tip: I had an enthusiastic response from library staff when I asked for donations of unwanted tea bags from their home collections, but in retrospect, I might have been better off investing in a variety box of herbal teas. Almost all of the tea that was donated made sort of a sad brown color.  If you want a lovely red, find a tea that includes Hibiscus.  One of the donations was a "pumpkin spice" variety and another was a mint and those were really nice to smell.  Black and white teas.... don't smell as interesting or distinctive, especially to young children.  Interestingly, I don't think anyone chewed or sucked on their tea bag (I was a bit worried about caffeine intake).

 Variations to try: 
--You could also show examples of professional artwork created with tea.
--I have also heard of doing a similar project but using crepe paper streamers instead of tea bags.  While this will yield much brighter colors, you should be aware that these colors are NOT necessarily washable and tend to stain fingers for a few days and clothing permanently.

Adult Challenge: The official challenge issued was "ask open-ended questions" but I sort of extended it to encourage parents to talk about the shapes of the tea bags, and the different colors and smells of the tea, so that rather than focusing on the final product (very few of which went home), they were able to concentrate on the process.

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