This year, we updated this lesson, inspired by the Indian festival of colors known as Holi. Although its meaning and how it is celebrated varies depending on region in India, it is a joyful, colorful celebration of the move from winter into spring. And, kids and adults alike can be inspired by the common practice of extracting colors from nature as part of the Holi celebration. Want to help kids understand a bit more about Holi? Watch this video read aloud of Festival of Colors by Kabir Sehgal & Surishtha Sehgal Illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Inspired by Holi or just by the colors of spring, try to make your own paints using the colors that spring has to offer in your biome. There's no shortage of paint recipes using natural materials, but in this one, kids can run the show. All you need are berries, a few brightly colored spices, water, and some open earth -- and then let the kids loose. The experimentation and creativity that follows is as lovely as the art that results.
This isn’t just another painting project. Switching from “let’s follow this recipe” to “we have a dilemma -- what should we do?” not only gives kids experience with how to solve genuine problems, but allows them the freedom to invent the solutions -- the very basis of creativity. This activity’s colors, scents, and textures (maybe even tastes!) help kids develop multiple senses -- and also make it extremely engaging. The deceptively simple acts of stirring mixtures and transferring paint from bucket to bucket support universal patterns in brain development known as behavioral schema. Meanwhile, fine motor skills get a boost from holding sticks for mashing and grasping brushes for painting. Most gratifying of all, you’ll likely hear, “Look what I made!” When kids take pride in their artwork, that’s hard evidence that making things on their own boosts self-esteem -- a true masterpiece.