The Bridge School


Art: Mural Painting


The art center is open daily during Center Time. Activities are based on the week’s theme or designed to provide more experiences with a particular medium (e.g., clay, play-doh) or use of a tool, such as cutting with scissors. Product-oriented activities such as making Mother’s or Father’s Day presents or holiday crafts are offered occasionally. Generally, art is a child-focused play activity emphasizing opportunities for children to pursue and develop interests; to explore materials and to share experiences. Teachers guide children to try new tools and mediums and to work with other team members to adapt materials for accessibility. Teachers provide communication tools to encourage social interaction and sharing during play.

Mural painting is a group project that can last over an extended period of time (multiple days, a week, etc.). Children choose colors and paint tools as they add to a poster attached to a classroom wall. When given a choice of activities, art is often the favorite as the children enjoy the process and working collaboratively along side their peers. At the end of the week the poster is truly a group effort with multiple layers of paint. It is used to decorate the art center area while it dries. Once it is finished, the children cut off pieces to take home and to illustrate their school news for their families.

Standards and Goals

We use multiple tools in the design and implementation of our preschool curriculum. This activity is guided by:

  • Language Focused Curriculum for Preschool by Betty H. Bunce
  • The California Department of Education Preschool Learning Foundations
  • Desired Results Developmental Profile Access (DRPD-Access)
  • The child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP)

Language Focused Curriculum for Preschool by Betty H. Bunce (2010) serves as a resource for our staff in determining age appropriate expectations and a developmentally sound continuum of goals and objectives.

Learning objectives for all learners

  1. Express creativity
  2. Develop small motor skills
  3. Practice turn-taking skills
  4. Interact with peers and adults

Preschool Learning Foundations being addressed

The California Department of Education has adopted a set of learning standards or foundations that describe optimal growth, development and learning for all children and provides strategies for achieving each goal, best teaching practices and considerations for a well-designed educational environment. The Bridge School implements these standards in our preschool program. This activity addresses the following goals and objectives found in the California Department of Education Preschool Learning Foundations.

  • Visual and Performing Arts
    • Visual Art 1.2 – Create marks with crayons, paints, and chalk and then identify them; mold and build with dough and clay and identify them.
    • Visual Art 2.1 – Make straight and curved marks and lines; begin to draw rough circle shapes.
    • Visual Art 2.5 – Begin to recognize and name materials and tools used for visual arts.
    • Visual Art 3.1 – Create art and sometimes name the work.
  • Social Interaction
    • Group Participation 3.1 – Participate positively and cooperatively as group members.
  • Listening and Speaking
    • Vocabulary 2.1 – Understand and use accepted words for objects, actions, and attributes encountered frequently in both real and symbolic contexts.

Desired Results Developmental Profile Access (DRDP-Access)

This tool serves two purposes in the preschool planning process. It is used to monitor student outcomes and to inform curriculum development. As we rate the various measures or learning progressions, we can document the tools and supports being used to achieve progress. This activity addresses the following indicators from the Desired Results Developmental Profile Access (DRDP-Access).

  • Indicator
    Children show interest, motivation and persistence in their approaches to learning.
  • Measure 20
    Curiosity and Initiative – Child shows interest in books, songs, rhymes, stories, writing and other literacy activities and seeks information in written text.

Sample Individual Education Plan (IEP) goals being addressed for each activity/content area

  • Use aided communication systems to participate in classroom activities and social interactions. (Operational, Social)
  • Will clearly indicate selections by picking a familiar object from a choice of X specified number, using signals (eye gaze, hand gesture, etc.) that can be consistently interpreted by four different staff members in 4 out of 5 opportunities.
  • Will be able to hold onto a drawing utensil, with or without an adaptation and draw a line from one side of the paper to the other to correctly match 3 sets of objects or pictures with assistance in holding the paper or adjusting the position of the marker for 2/3 trials as measured by OT or teacher.
  • Will independently create art (e.g., make marks with crayons or markers, cut paper for a collage, mold clay, etc.) with at least 3 different mediums (e.g., crayons, markers, scissors, paint, etc.) and name the work (e.g., explain what the piece is about, identify certain marks as a certain person, etc.) in 4/5 opportunities as measured by classroom staff.

Materials and Preparation

  • Art table set up at accessible height/distance for children to reach in walker or wheelchair.
  • Table set out with materials, tools and simple demonstration sample.
  • Paper for the mural is white butcher roll paper and is taped on the wall at children’s level. Paper is large enough to accommodate three children using walkers working next to each other. Outline of tree encourages children to color-in and fits in with camping theme.
  • Identify tools: Make sure there is a wide variety of tools available from which the children can select. Tools can include brushes with different shapes and adapted handles, and sponge applicators. We keep popular art tools and materials to adapt handles (foam, duct tape, cut up pool noodles) stored within reach in shoe bags on the wall near art table. If materials are visible and easily accessible, children learn to direct teachers to alternate selections if necessary or desirable.


The art table is set up for easy access.

Art mural day one: ready to paint.

Abigail painting in her walker.

The selection of tools available.

General responsibilities of adults in preparation for activity

  • Prepare bin of paint tools and paint colors in advance.
  • Prepare a small sample project (several colors painted on paper) so you can show rather than tell students what to expect.
  • Put a basket or bin under work-table for excess tools and materials to keep table work area free of clutter.
  • Determine space needed for art activity. Children use their walkers in centers so they can move between activities. Art table needs to be pulled out so most children can fit around it and need space to reach wall to work on mural poster and to get to kitchen to wash/clean up.
  • Cut lengths of paper off paper roll and tape together to make mural size paper. Secure the paper on a wall near materials.
  • Record messages and make, print and laminate overlays for simple SGDs.
  • Familiarize staff with switches on students walkers so they can attach and set up step-by-step and other AAC devices, record messages, and trouble-shoot.

Example of CheapTalk messages.

Instructional Plan

Foster use of art materials, fine motor skills, concept learning

  • Provide enough materials for each child, but not so many that children are overwhelmed or distracted.
  • Plan time for children to experiment and explore on a daily basis. Allow children to explore materials in their own way. Open-ended materials encourage creativity.
  • Consult with occupational therapist (OT) and vision specialist (VI) to identify appropriate actions and art tools.

Follow child’s lead

  • As art is one of many activities a child can choose during Center Time, allow the children to choose which center, which activity and what materials they want to use.
  • Teacher assists when necessary and carefully observes:
    • subtle initiations,
    • how children handle materials,
    • focus of attention (what seems to hold the child’s interest)

    If a child is attending to activity but not participating

    • Invite child to join-in and position yourself so you can see child’s face.
    • Give child a place at the table, a tool, and choice of paint.
    • Wait expectantly to see what she or he will do.
    • Suggest a role in the activity or something the child could do with the materials (squish/splat paint on paper with sponge, use hand to pat paint on). Demonstrate if necessary.
    • Comment about something you know the child likes or has done in past in a similar activity (a child likes pound with a hammer, try hitting sponge on paper).
  • Have a mini-interaction or conversation with each child during art activity. Follow child’s lead by imitating his/her actions, commenting or joining in the play and make it fun to keep it going. Some children may enjoy tactile experiences, or the sounds materials make as much as prepared activity.

Children painting together.

Encourage and model interaction with peers

  • Respond promptly to any initiation. Watch for subtle initiations like small gestures, quick looks, or soft sounds.
  • Encourage children to ask for what they want.
  • Expect and facilitate the children taking turns with materials.
  • Support children sharing with peers.
  • Encourage children to greet peers and teachers as they come by the art table; model using speech generating device (SGD) how children could show and share their work. If children want to pick a preferred teacher to work with them on the painting or to show someone their work, use a SGD to call teacher by name.
  • If children are watching other children closely, encourage and model using a SGD to ask a question, make a comment, give a compliment.
  • Use fun comments to keep children engaged in interaction: use open ended questions that lead to more than one response and avoid testing questions, such as, “What color is that?” that can end conversations quickly.
  • Build opportunities to share and comment during the activity, e.g., at different times during Center Time go around the art table and let children take brief turns holding up work in-progress while peers and teachers practice different communication modes and tools to comment.

Monitoring Progress

Evaluation Method: Observation

The template below is an example of a data collection tool that might be used to document a child’s progress toward the goals and objectives identified for implementation. We select the long-term goals and short-term objectives (STO) from the California Preschool Learning Foundations and the Language Focused Curriculum for Preschool by Betty Bunce. Each child has an individual data collection template with the goal and short-term objectives, criteria for achieving success and estimated time to completion included. The template indicates which activity will be the most relevant to gather data regarding the goal and objective (Centers, Morning Group, Snack, Music, Sharing Time). For example, the X indicates that observations related to this goal will be collected primarily during Centers.

Sample data collection tool

Measurement procedures

Documenting that a student has achieved a particular goal or objective is critical in the educational process. At The Bridge School we find that documenting how a student achieves the goal is also vital to our planning and implementation of an effective intervention for our students. The following is an example of the information we collect to guide us in this process.




2 Weeks – 4/9/12

Camping – Mural painting

Tried different paint tools very briefly: brushes, rollers, sponges, then moved to different activity. Commented when he did not like tool. Watched peers with mural on wall, able to view closely and in best position (looking right at it). Enjoyed most when accidents happened – paint spilled, someone painted on the wall. Interested in how to fix when painted through paper and paint dripped. Liked telling story: what happened WHILE painting rather than telling about art.

2 weeks – 4/23/12

Garden – Fruit and veggie stamp pictures

Enjoyed cutting fruit and veggies then putting them in paint and on paper. Wanted to eat fruits and veggies AND use for art. Liked using knife for cutting more than using for art. Difficult to view on tray. Needs to drop his head all the way to look. May not have enough contrast. Probably best feedback when cutting (satisfying sounds and can feel pieces, may not be able to perceive much of paint work). Cut fruit and veggies into different size pieces and pressed on paper. Wanted to share this on home news. Thought it funny that we did not eat apples. Likes clean up part of paint activities: washing hands, tools in warm soapy water.


Adapting art tools for access
Programming Speech Generating Devices (SDG) for access
Upright mobility for independence and access

Resources and References

Bunce, B.H. (2008). Early Literacy in Action: The Language Focused Curriculum for Preschool. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Pub. Co.

California Department of Education Preschool Learning Foundations –

The Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) Access –