Saturday, April 3, 2010

Finger Painting

Recently we finger painted. And I noticed something. I think I noticed this particular phenomenon in my classroom because of Teacher Tom's post Boy Art. I've been thinking about how boys and girls work and play in my classroom after reading that post and this led to my observation.

A group of girls painted first. We pushed up sleeves, put on smocks, squeeze paint onto trays, and began to paint. I added colors as requested and soon everyone was painting with varied shades of black. My attention was diverted to another part of the room, and when I tuned back in the girls were chanting, "I'm washing my hands" as they used the finger paint for soap. Now all four girls looked like they were wearing mottled gloves, paint covering all of their hands up to and maybe even a little past the wrists.

When done, the girls moved to the sink to wash hands. That's when I discovered that at least 2 girls got paint on their sleeves (that were still pushed up almost to their shoulders) and covered the front of their smocks with paint, too. When I moved the trays to wash them, the table had paint everywhere. That's when the realization came to me - my girls are messy. Messy and exuberant.

A little later, a group of boys hit the art table to finger paint. They rolled up sleeves, donned smocks, and jumped into with all fingers. The boys got paint only on their palms and fingers (but not the backs of their fingers). One boy kept insisting that I push up his sleeves when they moved a millimeter. When the painting ended, no paint on the table or any smocks. And all the sleeves were pristine. My boys were much more deliberate about how they painted.

It was an interesting observation, a difference from what I usually observe. And a reminder that I don't need to push any particular description on a child based on just demographics. Each child is unique and interesting and his (or her) own person.

And I wouldn't want my kids any other way!

All photos by R. Scott Wiley


  1. Nice observation Scott, I just realize to myself, when I am cooking ( comparing when my wife was cooking ) my hands are cleaner than her.

  2. If there's going to be a kid who gets messy at the art table up to the elbow in my class, it's usually one of the girls as well. And if there's going to be a steadfast fingerpaint hold-out, it' nearly always one of the boys. That said, when we're doing other messy things, liking getting outside to play in the mud, I haven't noticed a gender difference. Odd, huh?

  3. That is an interesting observation! I don't think I ever noticed this before. I will have to pay attention:)

  4. I have long observed that the boys in my program do not like to get their hands messy with art supplies. They don't seem to mind getting messy with mud though!

  5. I wonder if any of those boys had painted with the girls if they would have gotten as messy as the girls did? Or if one of the girls had painted with the boys if she would have been as reserved? Hmmmm...

  6. Great observation, Domestic CEO. The kids certainly influence each other's thinking.

  7. Woo-Hoo! Way to get messy girls! :)

  8. Oh brother! ... or should we say 'sister'? ... Our girls are by FAR the messy ones inside. They create the mess! They wear the mess! AND they leave the mess! But we should add ... they enjoy every minute of it.

    Actually come to think of it they're exactly the same outside too!

    Busy, busy play means busy, busy mess!

    :) :)

  9. You know Scott, mine are too. It's funny how I've noticed this myself over the years and reading the comments above, I still find it a little surprising! (I don't know why~gender stereotypes, maybe?)
    By the way, I love the trays? Where did you get them?

  10. Ayn, I got the trays at my favorite online location - Discount School Supply. I use them for all kinds of things and they are very durable. I did a quick search and found the product number: 8WWARTRAY