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Learning Station
At moments during the painting sessions the activity around the painting bench can become hectic, with children reaching for brushes, sponges or rollers. But the swirl of activity is positive. Children are asking questions of each other and of the teacher. Information is being exchanged. Colors are being mixed. New combinations of tools are being experimented with. Everyone at the bench is at eye level, including the teacher who is sitting on a stool behind the bench opposite where the young painters are loading their brushes with paint.

The interactive painting system also involves placing the bench correctly within the studio room or space, so that, although the actual bench is the pedagogical tool, the whole room is the interactive, instructional area. It must face a long wall where large, 22 1/2” X 28” sheets of paper can be posted. After selecting their piece of paper, children then walk to and fro across the room to the painting bench where they select colors and tools. While standing at the bench the young artist may look back at her work from a distance, noticing where patches of white page need creative attention, studying the composition and discussing color combinations with other young painters and the teacher. This also re-enforces a network of support among the students.

painting benchEach child is encouraged by the teacher to observe their classmate’s work and to ask questions. “How did you get that color?” “Is that elephant standing in water?” “Does your dog have a bow?” Negative comments are not condoned, and bring comments from the teacher supporting the painting that is being criticized, “It is her painting, if she says it is a fire engine it is a fire engine.”

Games develop quickly in this environment. Children and teacher play color games that reenforce color concepts. Mixing “ice cream” colors is great fun. Small mixing cups with several tablespoons of white are ready as the children approach the bench. Primary colors are selected and added. As they are stirred delighted comments, “Wow, I got blueberry!” or “Strawberry Pink!” and “Mint java-wava!” proclaim a new color discovered by the little artist.


Young Henry studies the painting bench with Miriam, Berkeley Child Art Studio.