Over the past couple of weeks, the children in Nitzanim v’Anafim (“Buds” for 1st-2nd grades, “Branches” for 3rd grade) have been working with watercolors to tell stories about the שְׁמַע (shema). Their stories have been fascinating, and the ways they’ve discovered how to use watercolors have been just as fascinating. While I offered them several new materials – pipettes, sponges, painter’s tape – I never could have imagined the variety of creative ways they would use them and the amazing artwork they would create.
Children started coming up with their own techniques. They used paper towels to create interesting patterns, mixed new colors, and used the pipettes to blow air and spread drops of watercolors. They were creative in their use of the materials, and incredibly friendly in the ways they were sharing their discoveries with each other:
- “Hey, how’d you make bubbles like that?”
- “Look what I did!”
- “Can I use some of that teal you made?”
The children’s storytelling has deepened through their use of watercolors. It’s not only the colors they choose that are symbolic, but also the way they’ve put them on the page. One child put a drop of watercolor on her artwork, then lifted it up and watched the color drip down: “I think drips are calm,” she said. The character in her story said the שְׁמַע (shema) at bedtime to help her feel calm before a big day the next day. Another child remarked on the way that colors bled into each other on his page: “It’s like they are rivers of connection,” he said, thinking about how the characters in his story were connected through saying the שְׁמַע (shema).
I love getting to see how natural it is for these children to experiment with watercolors, coming up with new techniques each time they work with them. I think the pride that they feel when they’ve made something amazing is evident in this conversation between two children:
- Child 1: “I think this is the best watercolor I’ve ever made!”
- Child 2: “It’s a work of art!”
I hope the children in Nitzanim v’Anafim retain their sense of pride in their creations when it comes time to share their stories and artwork with their families and the community. Nitzanim v’Anafim – your work is truly inspiring!