Saturday, September 15, 2012

Art Project: Sandpaper & Chalk Pastels

I have another project to share with you that we did this week in our after-school club, "Expedition in the Desert!": chalk pastel drawings on sandpaper. This extraordinarily easy project is also a tactile delight for kids. Many thanks to DLTK - Growing Together for the idea. 

I recommend using a coarser grain of sandpaper and good-quality chalk pastels. Before they began drawing, I gave the children the following tips:

1. Lightly sketch the main parts of the picture with a pencil before using the chalk pastels.

2. Draw the things in front first and then work on the background. This is an important step when starting out with chalk pastels. Because you can't color over things with chalk pastels without them showing through, you draw what is in front first and then work on the background last. This is the exact opposite of what a child would do in painting and it is worth pointing out to them. 

Here is my sample painting that I showed the children:

And here is some student work:

The picture that I drew is of the burning bush from the Moses story that we heard this week. I did not intend for the children to use this theme, but most of them did anyway. In an art class, that would be fine, but in Godly Play, it is not. I realized then that my sample had been too direct and that it would have been better to have simply told them what to do rather than show them. Oh well, we learn from our mistakes. : )


  1. why is it not ok to use sandpaper in Godly play? Son wanted to do this for a church project of burning bush.

    1. It is okay to use the sandpaper - that's not the issue. What is not okay is for the teacher to show everyone his/her adult work and then say that this is the project everyone is going to do. That's because Godly Play is not an art lesson. Rather it is about allowing children to bring up and express the ideas that are important to them. By showing the children my sample work instead of setting out the materials, I inadvertently took away their opportunity to draw things out of their own imagination in response to the story. For instance, maybe certain children would not have naturally chosen the burning bush to draw. Maybe they would have drawn Moses with his sheep, or the baby Moses in the bulrushes.

      I think it's wonderful that your son wants to do this project. Just, if you do it in response to a GP story, I think it's better to just lay out the sandpaper and pastels and let the kids go at it rather than showing them pre-prepared sample artwork.

      Hope that makes sense!