Stickiness and the affordance of media

A group of very young children from the Forest room have been exploring the concept of 'sticky'. They have stuck things together with clay and tape, but they seem to be most engaged and delighted when they play their 'sticky' game. In this game a group of children pretend to be stuck to something (the playground fence, for instance). They play this game all the time, and the term sticky is very alive for them.

The teachers invited me over to help the children continue to define stickiness for themselves.The teachers were hoping I might have a different material with which to stick things. I brought string, lace, and a big bucket of slip from the studio.

After playing with string for a while, we tried using slip (clay and water) to put some decorations on this tree.

Nora asked Henry to put some slip on the tree with his stick, and then she carefully pressed a leaf onto it, and said "The leaf is sticking to the tree!"

Learning about a property like stickiness can lead to innovative thinking,
a 'tinkering' kind of mindset, (or
learning by fooling around with stuff.) These children have only just begun to play with slip, string, gumballs and lace as sticky materials. I hope their expanding view of 'sticky' will continue to grow.

Discovering the affordances of art media is one of the most exciting and useful aspects of artmaking at any age. When children understand what a medium can do, and what it can't do, then it can become a language for them. They begin to use it to communicate, to make their thinking visible.

Later Quinn and the rest of the class came out to see the tree. Someone said "it looks like a beautiful tree".
Then a group of older children (the ones who originally played with gumballs and string) walked over to visit the 'beautiful tree'. Perhaps they will continue the exploration in their own way.


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