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signing his name.

Z takes the plunge....
right into "Messy Art Day" at the Local Co-Op Preschool!

This was one fieldtrip we were NOT going to miss!
The annual Mess-Fest was packed with eager squealing kids and parents who were even happier that the party was not at their house.  Montessori and Messes are not usually friends, especially messes on THIS scale.  So we enjoyed all that this Play-based spectacular had to offer!  Kudos to ECPC and all their dedicated volunteer parents for bringing this craziness into our humdrum Sunday morning.

With that said....BRING ON THE MESS...errr...ART!

We started with the Spray Table, rescuing frozen animals from their icy beds with colored "Juice."  Zo is well practiced with his CLEAN BUCKET at home, but he's use to things getting progressively cleaner, not dirtier!  Huh?  He kept turning to me with his tiny dirty hands held up, looking quite confused.  The more he sprayed, the more his pensive-thoughtful-concerned-eyebrows crinkled.  CRINKLED.
"It's ok Zozie, it's messy-messy time," I told him repeatedly.

On to the Sand Table.  It had some colored sand mixtures with various baking containers and utensils to manipulate the grainy confection.  Only 30 seconds.  "All-done Da-lee."  Z couldn't figure out why he is suppose to throw sand around in random pans.  "It's fun right Zozie?", trying to convince him.
Apparently, not so much.

Things didn't get much better with the Soda Dragon.  The mouth was stuffed with a tube full of baking soda awaiting a child to "feed" it some colored water.  Once filled, it foams out colored foam!  "Cool, right Zozie?"  He just looked down at the foamy mess, plopping onto the sandy floor.
More crinkled brows.  Man, what does it take?

Things picked up at the Canvas Wall.  3 large buckets filled with red, yellow and blue paints.  Various household objects acting as "paint brushes."  Mops, plungers, brooms, back scrubbers, fly swatters...this was one AWESOME setup!

Zo started to loosen up although left hand still clutched and pointing out paint splatters on his boots to me.  I pulled out a wet wipe to help him while noticing some minor glances from other more free-play-leaning parents...
Look, it's not ME, it's the kid.
Ok, fine.
I taught the kid to want to be clean.
But still...I was trying to get Zo INTO IT, only wiping because of his own pleading eyes.  I did notice a few other Asian parents hovering over their child with towelettes.  I think Being Asian was the culprit in those cases.  Pretty sure those parents don't also do Montessori Homeschooling?

We then came upon The Confetti Room.  This is where kids can throw shredded paper into fans blowing upwards in anyway they want.  Less than 10 seconds.  Zo stepped into the tent, then stepped right out. 

A Noodle Art wall had kids flinging colored spagetti at plexiglass!  But now being 3, food throwing seemed counter-intuitive.  "Throw it Zozie, just throw it!!"  He shoots me a look that was similar to us asking him to HIT his first pinata at a party.  "Don't hit anything", we always say.  But DO thrash a cute turtle paper-mache, demolish it, and rip some candies out of it's stomach.   
The world is a confusing place, my young grassHAPA.

I was starting to question if our homeschool routines of order and cleanliness was hampering Zozie's ability to let loose and experiment with GOOP.  Doubting myself and wondering if I've made Zozie disorderly-challenged...we came upon the Spatter Slide, aka Slide Painting. 
(Yes.  I keep forgetting...It's ART!)

Zozie really lit up with this one!
Buckets of squishy balls, 2 tubs of paints (blue & yellow), and a sheet of craft paper lining the slide.  No explanation needed.  He grabbed, dunked, and hurled!  HOORAY!  Paint splattering everywhere and dunking his arms deeper and deeper, Zo is now squealing himself, finally!  He loved watching the balls roll and bounce off the paper, making patterns and streaks with each movement.  "Look mama, I made GREEN!"  Z high-five'd the helper-dad before leaving.  Note the bare hands of the dad, and also note in the photo, the latex-gloved hand of a helper mom, Asian.  Of course.

This wonderland of artistic experiments continued to the Paintable House.  Zozie swept, rolled, brushed... 
The cleaning gloves were OFF! 


Got the column...
don't forget the ceiling!

The Hanger Sculpture was also a highlight.  Zozie's first 3D art installation, although he spent the first few minutes picking up the hangers off the floor and hanging them back onto the dispensing rods.  "It's a sculpture Zozie."  "Oh!  Ok."  The hangers were placed carefully, mostly where there weren't any already.  He would step back once in a while before placing the next hanger, taking in the overall effect of what he was creating.  "A tower mama!"

The Messy Art Day ended with a BANG!
The last stop was the Musical House, where every surface of the house was covered in sound making pots, pans, cans, bottles, drums, you name it!  Zozie went about doing his usual "set" on the buckets he found inside the house...

LAB Results:
It was extremely interesting to observe Zozie in this environment!

Winners?  Tools that really drew his attention and imagination had an immediate Cause & Effect, along with an inherent lesson reflecting how the real world worked.  The Splatter Slide, The Canvas Wall, The Painting House, The Music House.  He did something, then there was an instant feedback or result from his actions that was relevant.  It was NOT about his like or dislike of being messy.  Paint splatters were welcomed, disorder of the hangers created, when the exercise had a particular agenda of creating something, the mess level did not bother him.

Losers?  Those that did not appear to have any particular "purpose" or "sense" to the actions being asked to be performed in real life.  Confetti room, Soda Dragon, Sand Table, Noodle Art.  
Messy for messy-sake.  
Like eating cotton candy, so fun, so sweet, the satisfaction so short-lived.  

Fantasy & Imagination are two different things.  
Zozie's response to this art day reminded me of the talk  Po Bronson (Author of Nurtureshock) gave recently.  One, fantasy, is random ideas not grounded in reality in which an idea is produced for idea-sake with no connection to the real world or each other.  The other, imagination, is mastering a grounded and clear understanding of reality and coming up with creative ways to manipulate that truth.  They are not one in the same and are often confused when applied to Children & Play.

Chuckling to myself, the same principle applied to our splattering day.
True Art, serves a purpose.  It engages and captures our attention thus spawning creative imagination.
Fluff Art, is crazy for crazy-sake.  Fantastically fun, but the high is temporary and inconsequential.

Every living being yearns for work that is True.
Well well.
Montessori and Messes ARE Friends after all, eh?

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