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Straw Painting

About this video

Lucille, the young girl in this video clip, is painting outdoors on a sheet of white paper on a table. Instead of using a brush to move the paint and mix the colors, she aims a drinking straw at tiny puddles of the wet paint and blows through the straw to move the paint. The teacher is to Lucille’s left, providing paint, commenting on what she’s doing, and asking her questions.

The video begins with Lucille looking intently down at her paper as she exclaims, “In the purple!” She and the teacher exchange a few words. Lucille places one end of a pink drinking straw into her mouth and blows through it. The other end of the straw is touching a tiny puddle of purplish paint on the white paper, on which are several other tiny paint puddles in different colors. Very little paint moves when she blows through the straw. The teacher seems to notice this and makes a suggestion. Lucille moves the straw to the puddle suggested by the teacher and blows. She is able to move more paint and this gets an enthusiastic response from the teacher. Lucille and the teacher interact about placement of additional paint puddles, and Lucille then blows through the straw onto the new paint puddles.

Throughout the activity, Lucille holds the straw with both hands to move it and to keep it in place. She seems to be carefully positioning the straw, watching where she puts it before she bends her head to blow through it. Occasionally she moves her head up and back and looks briefly at the paper.

The teacher facilitates Lucille’s exploration of the materials and technology. She does so by placing small amounts of paint on the paper at the child’s request and by suggesting one place to position the straw. The teacher checks Lucille’s knowledge of color names once by asking “Which color is that?” The teacher’s words and actions are synchronized with the child’s actions and requests.



Lucille: In the purple!

Teacher: In the middle of the purple? Okay pick up your straw [inaudible]. (Puts paint on the paper) There you go. All right! Do it! (Child blows through straw on a relatively dry spot of paint.)

Teacher: Do you see where it’s wet right here?

Lucille: Mh Hm.

Teacher: Try blowing on that. That might make it move around a little bit. (Child repositions straw, blows through it.)

Teacher: Excellent!

Lucille: Now let’s do the blue in the middle of that!

Teacher: Blue in the middle of what? Which color is that?

Lucille: Red.

Teacher: Red. Okay, blue in the middle of red. See if it makes a different color. (Child positions the straw and blows through it.)

Teacher: Neat!

Lucille: Blue in this one now!

Teacher: Blue in—blue where? Right over there?

Lucille nods.

Teacher: All right (puts paint on paper). There’s—

Lucille: No—

Teacher: Oh, I’m sorry, the wrong spot. You’ll have two blue spots now. Right there?

Lucille: Mm-hm.

Teacher: Okay. (Child blows intermittently through the straw, focusing on one paint puddle.)

Teacher: (Whispering) Wow!

Benchmarks and How They Were Met

BenchmarksHow They Were Met
Language Arts
1.A.ECa: Follow simple one-, two- and three-step directions.
Lucille followed the teacher’s suggestions and answered her questions.
Language Arts
1.B.ECc: Continue a conversation through two or more exchanges.
Lucille told the teacher that she wanted her to put paint in specific spots. She answered the teacher’s question about color.
12.D.ECb: Explore the effect of force on objects in and outside the early childhood environment.
Lucille noticed what happened when she blew through the straw onto the paint.
13.B.ECa: Use nonstandard and standard scientific tools for investigation.
Lucille used the straw as a tool that concentrated the force of moving air.
Physical Development and Health
19.B.ECa: Coordinate movements to perform complex tasks.
Lucille placed the straw on her paper carefully, before putting her mouth to the straw to blow through it. She puffed into the straw, and she took it from her mouth after each breath while keeping it focused on specific spots. She did not suck air through the straw. She moved the straw with both hands. She positioned it by watching and moving it at the same time.
The Arts
25.A.ECd: Visual Arts: Investigate and participate in activities using visual arts materials.
Lucille worked with paint, a commonly used visual arts medium.
Social/emotional Development
30.C.ECa: Exhibit eagerness and curiosity as a learner.
Lucille focused intently on what she was doing. She made choices about what to do next (i.e., what color to use and where she wanted the teacher to put the paint).
Social/emotional Development
31.A.ECc: Interact easily with familiar adults.
Lucille and the teacher collaborated throughout the activity using verbal and nonverbal communication to engage each other.

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Family Child Care
  • Child Care Center
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Teachers / Service providers

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2017