Year 1 and 2 at my school. Making paintings with Chinese ink and colors on traditional paper.
On Monday they came in to find a piece of rice paper folded in half, into a square on the tables. I poured a tiny bit of ink into a paper cup for each one telling them that it would never come out of their clothes so treat it as poison. I told them not to look at it, smell it, touch it or even think about it. There were lots of questions about why the couldn't look or think about it. These I answered with the eternally useful "because I said so".
Then I handed them each a brush and told them to draw exactly what I told them to. The first was a circle with a thin line. Most drew a circle with a thin line, but some drew a circle with a thin line, literally adding a random thin line to it. Go figure. Then there was a circle with a thicker line which most got but some screwed up in the similar fashion. When I drilled them on why they had added a line when I said "a circle with a thin line" they looked puzzled which is ok. It's like when I have this repeated conversation with Yoyo, a half Chinese, half Japanese boy.
Me: Yoyo, do you know what you're doing?
Yoyo in a very funny aquired British accent: No.
Me: You're looking like your sister.
He is at a loss for words.
His sister, Julie, doesn't have an aquired british accent by the way. But when Zhang Yang climbed into the garbage can to stamp down some paper scraps and Julie started to giggle uncontrollably and that was madness.
When they had 4 shapes on their paper I told them to turn the shapes into anything they wanted. When they had finished I handed out more paper to them and let them paint in ink for the full lesson.
On Wednesday I made them sit in the corridor while I told them what we were going to do in class. I told them how we were going to color the ink drawings from Monday, but we didn't have very many colors, just one box of Chinese paints. But, I insisted, it was enough.
So, we went into class and I began squirting the colors that pairs of students wanted to use into small plastic plates. Hannah came up and said she wanted light blue so I gave her a dab in the plate and said, "add lots and lots of water". She came back about 8 times for more light blue paint. Others wanted red, some wanted pink which I said I didn't have, though I could have mixed it like they suggested using red and white. I said I didn't have white.
Lily went right away into a small tantrum because in the previous class Cherry had tried to sign her name to Lily's painting painting only the "C" before Lily started screaming "what are you doing?" and rightly so. The "c" was somewhat broken so I changed it to an "Li" and added another "l" and a "y" making Lily, but it went up the side of the paper and she didn't like this. So, while I was running around trying to squirt colors on plastic paint she was over sulking saying, "I want a new paper." So I gave her a new paper but said we weren't using ink today so her new painting was just going to have to be with color. Well, that wasn't good enough. So she continued sulking.
A little while later i heard her lecturing Cherry in the most annoying,pretentious ramble of psycho-babble that she could have only picked up from an adult. I can't even remember what she was saying, but she was questioning Cherry's true motivation for putting her name and I do remember her saying, "Is it because you hate me and..." something something.
So, I switched to Chinese and told Lily that she had a lot of nerve lecturing Cherry when it was her that was constantly telling us who she hated most. "What qualifications do you have to lecture another student about what was obviously a thoughtless, meaningless mistake. Are you so perfect?" At which point one of the twins piped in "Yeah, are you so perfect?" I told him to be quiet and do his painting.
While scolding them I realised where they had picked up on the psycho-babble.
A few minutes later I gave Lily some ink in a cup and a little while after that her and Cherry were working together on the painting. Weirdos.
And it is in this way that they did what they did. Now if I can just get some clay for next year.