by Yvonne Pinter


In my group, the children leave many traces. The children are 1 to 4 years old. Especially the younger children often don’t clean up their toys, spill something, run around and lose toys on the way.
They especially like to leave crayon marks on floors, tables, chairs or on other children’s pictures.
If water has been spilled, they paint and smear around in it.

Leaving traces is part of human nature.

I came up with the idea of picking up on this and using it to start the project „Leaving traces“. I would like to pursue this natural passion and give it a framework.
All children who are interested and want to can take part in the project. I know from experience that younger children in particular prefer to watch first and only dare to participate later. These children should also have the chance to join in at any time.

Even during my preparations, for example when I was reading books or trying out a technique, my two oldest girls stood by me with curious eyes. Anna 4;2 and Maria 4;1 (names changed) are two very helpful and always interested children. It is in the artistic field that they have their greatest interest.

I see a striking artistic talent in Anna. Overall, her interests are very broad. She can be found wherever there is something going on. For her age, she is also amazing in the linguistic area. She has a very distinctive vocabulary.

I am in discussion with her parents, also with regard to her brother’s giftedness. Anna’s brother had also been in my group. He was diagnosed with giftedness through a test and his interests also lie in the artistic field. He painted, did handicrafts, designed and invented with incredible perseverance and passion. Anna learns a lot from him, but also develops her own ideas and puts them into practice. She loves to paint and do handicrafts and shows a lot of imagination.

Maria’s older sister was also in my group. She also stood out early on because of her artistic streak. With Maria, I recognise that she has many interests, but that artistically she tends to adopt her sister’s style and has not yet found her own.

In my planned project, it is not possible to imitate anyone because of the methods used. Often there are random results here, as for example with the
the clapping technique, the marble technique or the string technique.
My aim is to provide all children with alternatives to daily handicrafts and painting, to stimulate and challenge their imagination and creativity. A sense of achievement and fun must be part of the process. I also think it is important that the children gain experience with the different materials and learn how to use them.

I myself want to take the necessary time for the whole project and the individual children, to inspire and observe the children.
I set out the rough framework of the project, but leave room for experimentation and want to provide assistance.

I involved Anna and Maria in the project from the beginning because they kept asking me, „What are you doing? Can we join in? Can we help you?“ So they became my assistants.

Through our regular morning circles, the children are always informed about activities and events in the group and the kindergarten. I always take a look around to see who is interested.

Marble pictures

We started with marble pictures. A sheet of paper is placed in a suitable box. Paint is dripped or poured onto the sheet, then 2 to 3 marbles are placed inside. By moving the box back and forth, the marbles are rolled through the paint and beautiful results are created.
I chose normal finger paints in red, blue and yellow. By moving the marbles, the colours are mixed and other colours are created. The children observed this with great interest.

With the older children, i.e. the three to four year olds, I went into more detail about the newly created colours. Which mixed colours they recognise and through which mixtures they were created. Even Maria got to know a new colour: Turquoise.

For the younger children, the focus was on getting to know and naming the colours.
in the foreground.

Maria and Anna experimented much more than the other children. They came up with the idea of using only two colours, they varied on their own initiative with the marbles, using up to 5 of them, and with the amount of paint. I stood back and watched their goings-on. They talked about it very intensely and were completely on the job.

Each painting became unique.
We used the cloakroom as a small gallery. The children presented their pictures to their parents.

Inspired by the great interest in colour mixing, I spontaneously took out the book
„Die wahre Geschichten von allen Farben“ 〈The true story of all colours〉 by Eva Heller.
(See: Picture Books, Non-Fiction Books and Stories.)
In this book, each colour has its own character. They argue, fight and make up again.
The colour battle and the realisation that each colour has its own beauty are exciting.
Although the book is very long, many children listened intently, laughed at the quarrels of the colours and were excited about the colour mixes. Anna and Maria in particular were very persistent.

They realised:

„Aha, when all the colours mix together, everything turns brown.“ They didn’t like that at all. They tried it out immediately and found that this mixing was not worth it.

Making chalk

In the next activity, we made our own chalk to paint with. For the moulds, we used the plastic insides of packaging, for example boxes of chocolates. I wrote a notice to the parents, and they gave us hearts and various round and square shapes.

To mix the chalk, we needed plaster, water, Easter egg colours, a stick for stirring and small cups. Together with Maria and Anna, I gathered all the materials. Anna said:

„The plaster looks like grey flour and also feels like flour.“

After we had put on our gowns, we each took a small mug, put some water in it, chose a colour and dissolved it. That was exciting for the two of them. Little by little, plaster was added with a spoon and stirred. Plaster has to be stirred constantly until it binds and starts to harden.

At this point we poured the coloured plaster into the moulds. Actually
I wanted to mix the plaster with other children, but Maria and Anna had so much fun and patience. So I decided against it. The two of them had so much stamina and verve that we used up all the colours and there was no mould left.

Amazed, they both felt how the plaster became really warm after pouring. Anna said, „It feels like a warm stone.“

Now it took two days for the chalk to dry. Anna and Maria kept coming up to me, „How much longer, when can we finally paint?“
When the time came, they carefully squeezed the chalk out of the moulds and turned all the pieces with great dedication so that they could dry on all sides. I was very happy about their enthusiasm.

On the second day, the three of us brought all the materials to the morning circle. Together we told them exactly what we had done and how we had done it and that today we wanted to paint with the chalk we had made ourselves.

We set up two easels and stuck large white sheets of paper to the board with crepe.
Actually I wanted to use coloured paper, but the chalk shone better on the white.

Maria and Anna wanted to start, of course. Even when the chalk was still drying, they kept reassuring me that they would be allowed to paint with the chalk first and only then the other children. Of course I promised them that, because they had put a lot of work and care into making the chalk.

But first we took a look at the colours that had emerged after drying: Yellow, blue, green, red, pink, turquoise and purple. Every colour was sometimes paler, sometimes more intense.
At first, the two of them tried out the chalk rather timidly. But then it was turned and scraped on the paper, sometimes with the flat side, sometimes with the edges.
They painted very intensively and persistently.

Beautiful traces and patterns were created and, by rubbing the paint, also surfaces. It was not, as so often, the princess-or-flower-meadow-pictures.

Little by little, the other children (also from other groups) painted as well. Even the very young ones, not yet two years old, tried out the chalk. They pushed, pressed, painted and hacked on the paper. However, I also had to be very careful that no child put the chalk in its mouth.

Although a lot was painted with the chalk, there was still a lot left over. The homemade chalk proved to be more productive than the bought street chalk. Now we can fall back on it whenever we feel like it.

More traces

In everyday life, we printed the window panes with the children’s hands. This is how a hedgehog came into being, for example. The spines are the children’s fingers. We also printed sunflowers with our hands.

I put a long flat wooden box in our washroom. It has a glass bottom. I filled it with fine sand. At first with brief instructions and now independently, the children paint their pictures in the sand. They paint with a lot of calm, almost meditatively. My fear of having to constantly sweep up the sand was hardly confirmed at all.

The project „Leaving Traces“ took several months. Among other things, we offered the folding technique. In this technique, finger or water paint is applied to a sheet
or dripped onto a sheet of paper. Then the sheet is folded in the middle and prints are made. There are several variations.

We painted with a mixture of finger paint and paste. This is a nice sensory experience, especially for the little ones. This can also be varied by adding sand.

Then came the string technique. A piece of thread or wool is dipped in paint.
dipped in paint. The thread is then placed on a leaf and a pattern is created.
The thread can also be placed between two leaves and then pulled out on one side.

Anna and Maria were my dedicated and reliable assistants the whole time. But they also experimented and learned a lot themselves.

Both of them were tremendously dedicated to their work, they accompanied their work with talk, they talked intensively about their work, their observations, their ideas and opinions – and about nothing else.

Working like this makes you want to do more.


Date of publication in German: January 2013
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see Imprint.