Painting the Box

I use this exercise with my Kindergarten classes.  It is a way to get them started thinking about using their imagination in a physical way, and about really seeing what they imagine in real space.  It starts out as a simple narrative pantomime, so I've written that part out in the form of a story, just as I would say it in class.


I usually play music during this exercise.  Debussy works well.  Avoid lyrics, as they are too specific.  You want music that can mean something different to each student.


Painting the Box

Everyone find your own personal space in the room.  Be sure you have room to turn all the way around with arms outstretched and not touch anyone else.  Once you have found your personal space, sit down comfortably.


Imagine you are inside a small box.  The box is big enough for you to be comfortable, but not quite big enough to stand up in.  In your hand is a paintbrush, and at your feet is a large can of paint.


Pick up the paint and feel how heavy it is.  This is magic color-changing paint.  Each time you dip your brush in the paint, it comes out whatever color you want.  The paint won't get on your clothes, and it dries instantly.  Some paint, huh?


Paint the inside of your box with the magic paint.  You may paint it any color or colors you want.  Don't forget to paint the ceiling and the floor.  Remember that since the paint dries instantly, you won't end up painting yourself into a corner.  Be as creative as you want.  It's your box.


When you're finished, put down the paint can, but keep the brush.  You'll need it, because now there's another can of paint in your hand.  This is magic door paint.  If you paint a door on one wall of your box with the magic door paint, it will become a real door that opens.  Don't forget to paint a doorknob!


Once you have painted on your door, use it to step outside your box.  You may want to stretch a little--it was kind of cramped in there, wasn't it?  Walk all around your box.  The inside is very nice, but the outside needs something.  Paint!


Reach inside and retrieve the can of color-changing paint.  Use it to paint the outside of your box any way you like.  Maybe you'll even paint a peaked roof or castle turrets onto your box.  They all look wonderful.  If you want windows or more doors you can use the door paint.  It's your own little house, so make it the way you want it.


All these boxes look fantastic!


Sharing the Boxes

After we've finished "painting our boxes," I have my students share their work with one another.  I go around the room from student to student, asking each one to "show" us his box, and to describe it in detail.  I coach the students to be as descriptive as possible, and especially to help us "see" the colors.  As necessary, I coach the rest of the class to "see" each box, and compliment each creator on his work.  Usually the descriptions become gradually more elaborate as the students try to "top" each other, but right from the start I get clear, specific descriptions, and the class is able to buy into the conceit and "see" their classmates' work.  This is generally a very successful lesson, and it's one I've used for many years.  I often follow it with "Painting the Music."