Let Them Grow: Art Abandonment Supports Acts of Kindness Through Creative-Free Play
Recently my brother got into painting rocks and leaving them for strangers to find. Art abandonment he calls it. I hadn’t heard of it, but now that I have, I thought this is a perfect way for a toddler to spread love, gain empathy and become more generous. Not to mention a great way to brighten up the landscapes around town.
Toddlers have very little sense that they do not own the world; that every does NOT belong to them. Preschoolers are relinquishing this concept, but it’s never too early to start giving. The concept is simple; paint rocks and leave them in areas where you know members of your child’s community can find them. You can attach a little note or write on the back:
- “You found free art, share it”
- “Love is colorful”
- “Generosity is learned”
- “Spread art, spread joy”
Or just put them out there as is. My brother chooses the dot pointillism approach. This is a great technique for the older toddler or preschooler to learn. By adding a single-color at a time in the form of a single dot can help a child experience art with extreme intention. They can focus on one color or a series of colors.
One child will group like colors together and others may create an image from multiple colors. Some may choose to paint the rocks a solid color and that’s fine. You don’t have to restrict your child into a particular technique, instead encourage them to be as creative as they would like. Offer several different colors of paint and a bunch of different shape and size of rocks.
Using tempera paint which is non-toxic will work fine on its own, but will wash away in the elements. You can prevent this and make the rocks permanent if you follow up (away from children) after the paint dries with spray enamel.
Children love hiding the rocks and waiting to see if they will be found, who wouldn’t? But more beautiful is sharing art. Create something to only give it away is a heavy concept. Creating art is a deeply personal experience and a wonderful way to share some joy in your community.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Candice Chouinard has worked with youth of all ages and backgrounds, creating and implementing programming for children. She revels in hand-on, long-term, messy projects that are both fun and educational. Candice comes from a background in creative writing, as well as, child development and psychology. She owns and operates a day care in Northampton, MA.