Teaching twos is kind of like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get. Some years, we have paint-eaters. Other years, we have paint artists. Some years, we have both in the same class.
I like to start the year with something simple at the easel. I’ve had one year when no one knew what to do at an easel because they’d never seen one before, so it’s good to start simply. Here’s a shot of my beautiful art (the kids hadn’t arrived yet) using water on dark paper. Any dark paper works, so if you’re feeling purple, blue, green, red, or black this is the activity for you. Fat brushes seem to work better than thin ones. And since this picture was taken on the first day I supplied three cups on each side of the easel so that if everyone wanted to do it at once we could manage it.
The one negative with water is that you can’t really take the art home with you unless you’ve impregnated the paper with something that will bleed. That’s a whole other art activity, in my mind. The beauty of water is that you can reuse the same piece of paper over and over. You get to watch the art disappear and you get to use words like, “evaporation,” and wonder aloud about where the water goes. If someone puts on so much water that the paper disintegrates, well, that’s another good word to use.
In my classes this year we seem to have lots of painting pros. We didn’t have to keep the water more than a few days before it got old. In other years we’ve spent the first several weeks with water at the easel because of the aforementioned paint-eating (actually it’s more like brush-sucking). Some kids like to put brushes in their hands and walk around the room. I usually let them do this but substitute super fat stubby dry brushes so they’re less likely to stab anyone or hurt themselves. It’s typically more about having something in hand than having a particular brush.
On a personal note, I used to set my own kids up with brushes, dark paper, and water when I needed to cook a meal. If the water spilled it was no biggie and they felt like artists without much adult intervention. Try it!