This idea comes from Sheryl at Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds (original inspiration by Teach Preschool). To the untrained eye, this looks like "just painting". There is a lot going on here, though.
Physical development (fine and gross motor control)
It takes the right amount of pressure to get the desired stream of paint. Too much pressure=globby paintings. Too little pressure=inconsistent paint flow. For some children, this process is random, for some it's very calculated.
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The speed at which the bottle moves around the paper also makes a difference. If you watch a two year old do this activity, it will be all about observing the process. Squeezing as hard as they can, and probably either staying in one place on the paper or moving around really fast to see what will happen. This group of children uses more intentionality and measured movements.
Focus, control, planning.
Cognitive reasoning skills
Eventually, the experimentation continues.
How fast can I make it come out?
Can I use two at once? (and notice she's covering her paint with small pieces of paper rather than one big one.)
Can I make patterns without the paint mixing on my paper?
Which direction/how hard/what duration of pressing the painting will yield my predicted result? Or is there a predicted result? Maybe it's just "let see what happens when I do this".
Eventually, spatial predictions and decision making had to take place as they decided whether painted hands was worth pushing the paint carelessly out of the wax paper layers.
How can I make these figures keep their form?
What if I just set the paper down without pressing?
What if I pull from the sides without touching the paint?
Not much, so I'm going to go for it!!!
Cutting their own
And the inevitable fold.
Social skills were used as well.
"Can you pass me the yellow paint?" "Look what I made!" "Look what happened to my pink and yellow paint!" Exchanging information, getting needs met, engaging in purely social dialogue.
All of this learning took place within a completely open-ended activity.
I linked up at Kids Co-op!