Exploring Paint on a Mirror

Oct 10, 2013

Today's activity is part on an ongoing series, Exploring Reggio with The Imagination Tree, An Everyday StoryOne Perfect Day and Twodaloo

Through observing my children in their play habits and using notes from Maddie's preschool as confirmation, I'm well aware that they both love sensory activities and painting

Using this weeks theme of mirror play, I set up a simple Invitation to Play with very limited materials. This time I wanted to see what they would make of just these materials and whether they would engage with their reflections. I thought perhaps we might work on some oral language development for my toddler, focused around face and body parts, but as it turned out, the kids had different ideas to what this activity would be about. You can see how it panned out (and all the fabulous learning) below.

I set up my invitation to play using a large mirror (that usually hangs in our hall) and some easy wash finger-paints (we used these ones). I tried to position the mirror where they would have some lovely natural light and some varied reflections.

The children dove right in without any explanation necessary. I loved watching my toddler (22 months) observing what his older sister (4 years) was doing and seeing the peer learning taking place.

I thought the children would be more interested in their reflections but it started off all about the sensory experience of the paint and applying it to the cool, smooth surface. 

The sensory experience was extended to feet as well and even a little toe painting.

"Pitter-patter, pitter-patter." There was a lot of language used throughout the activity to describe the motions that the children were experiencing. This was fabulous for oral language development and contextual understanding. 

When the mirror became to murky they asked for paper towelling and cleaned it themselves.

After painting with their hands for quite some time, Maddie asked for a paintbrush (and of course her younger brother insisted upon one as well), which I was more than happy to provide them with.

From there came a different painting experience as the brush strokes on the mirror were different. They also became interested in mixing the paints and delighted that the yellow and blue became green.

It wasn't long before they were back finger-painting, but this time, because they started with the paint already on the mirror, it meant that removing the paint made a picture or pattern instead of applying the paint.

This caused Maddie to remember when we'd had a try monoprinting using cardboard combs and requested some paper that she could print her image on. (And of course, whatever his older sister gets, he wants as well)

As we'd never tried it this way, I was delighted that she used the previous knowledge she had learnt, taken it and applied it in this situation. She was so excited seeing the first print work!

And they didn't stop at just one print.

After that, Maddie declared she was finished so Noah enjoyed some quiet time painting away and using up all the remaining paint on his own.

When he'd had enough, we cleaned up.


This time the experience didn't end up including what I thought it might, however that doesn't mean that similar experiences in the future, won't. My children both really enjoyed this activity and got so much out of it. It's one that we will definitely repeat.

Perhaps next time I will have the mirror set out the same but without any paints so that engaging with it and their reflections is all they have? From there I could add back in some finger paints or even some face paints.

I will definitely continue to provide them with more sensory experiences and chances to be creative. This seems to be an area that they both work well together with and get a lot of enjoyment and learning through.

I know that my children both love being outdoors and now that we are in Spring here in Melbourne we will get to be outside a lot more often. Perhaps next time I can combine their interests and take this experience outside. They'd love that!

Have your children painted on mirrors before?

Join us in a fortnight for another Exploring Reggio post and don't forget to check out all the other great activities from our co-hosts.

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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