I've had the same scrubbing brush problem. I agree that in many cases this
is because the students haven't been taught, but sometimes at the k - 5
level this is because they simply don't have the motor control or maturity.
One approach I use is to make the analogy that the brush is like a cat. If
you rough up a cat's hair the wrong way, or bash at them, they'll run away
or scratch you! But if you pet a cat gently and stroke their fur in the
right direction, they'll purr and let you do it some more. Then I show them
how to treat the brush like a cat, and occasionally, if I see a scrubbed
brush, I'll just ask them to be kinder to their cat.
This works most of the time in the primary grades, but there are also those
that simply don't have the maturity. It is these students who led me to the
discovery of the foam lollypop brushes. Like a small sponge on a plastic
stick, they don't have hair to bend or a ferrule to scrape. They come in
numerous sizes from 1/2 inch to 3 inches, and they're very cheap. They work
best with wet on wet watercolor backgrounds, but they can also be used for
drybrush or stamping. I've also had them in tempera, and recently my 8th
graders have been using them in acrylics and latex house paints. And
they're lasting much longer than I had expected, too.
Of course, someone has to teach them how to use them, which I suppose was
your real point. Be nice to that cat!
Mark Alexander, 1-8 Art
Lee H. Kellogg School
47 Main Street
Falls Village, Connecticut 06031
"The object of education is to
prepare the young to
throughout their lives."