Photo taken by Deborah at NAEYC 2009 early childhood conference!
A wonderful addition to any preschool environment is an easel.
The easel is open ended
An open ended activity is one in which children are able to freely participate in the process - the outcome is ultimately based on the preschooler's ability, interest, creativity, skill, and desire to participate. Easel painting is very much open ended!
In this blog post by Brick by Brick, you will see a beautiful painting done on the easel - it is an amazing example of keeping art open ended and the result you can get from the easel. Notice the difference between the painting in Brick's post and the one in the photo above. Clearly the one above lacks the imagination of a small child (it was painted by an adult).
Changing it up
Children will go back to the easel over and over again with nothing but paint being supplied. But you can change the easel up a bit...
- Rotate the colors of paint
- Rotate the type of paint
- Rotate the size of brushes
- Rotate the kind of brushes
- Rotate the size of paper
- Rotate the type of paper
There are also different ways you can invite interest or spark creativity at the easel...
- Try playing different styles of classical music as the children paint - tell them to listen to the music and paint the way the music makes them feel.
- Bring in items that are unusual for painting with like a small limb from a tree or a feather duster.
- Add other mediums such as chalk, markers, crayons at the easel every once in awhile but the children like the paint best!
- Tape small words or pictures or photos around the edges of the easel for the children to view as they paint.
- Set the easel up in different places like near a window or close to the block center.
- Try letting two children paint at the easel together.
- If you have more than one easel, put them near each other so the children can view each other's work and to promote conversations about their work.
Choosing an easel
There are many kinds of easels to choose from but the most important things to consider is how tall the easel is and how sturdy it is. You will also want to make sure that the easel has a good holder for paint and possibly a place to store or hold paper.
Lakeshore Learning has a pretty nifty easel you might like to check out!
Keeping it clean
Be sure to wipe the easel down regularly and to protect the floor, you can put a plastic tablecloth or mat underneath the easel. Teach your preschoolers to be responsible with the paint - don't give up and lock the easel up in a closet due to the mess. Instead, teach your preschooler to be successful in the care and the use of the easel and at the same time, be flexible and observe the growth and learning that is taking place.
An Easel Review
Be sure to read this touching little easel review from 4 Crazy Kings!