A new fabric means children can quite literally wear their paintings, says Lorraine Frankish.
There is nothing new about children painting and dressing up.
What is new is the idea that children can now wear their paintings. DuPont Koloron is a new soft and pliable material that children and adults can use in diverse and enjoyable ways. Koloron feels like fine paper but is a woven fabric and can be machine-washed. It has a smooth white finish, which is a great surface for painting or drawing on. It is lightweight, and fairly inexpensive. When paint is applied to Koloron the colour stays on the surface. It does not fade into the fibres and dries relatively quickly. A set of six paints made in a gel form can be bought instead of traditional poster paints which have a tendency to flake (although adding a little PVA to the poster paint would remedy this). Water-based pens can also be used - Crayola washable works well. You can even stick on sequins, glitter or similar collage materials.
Koloron can be bought by the metre or as ready-made garments in the form of tabards and playsuits, called Camies which are aimed at three to 11-year-olds. The garments carry a chameleon logo, which seems a perfect symbol as children can quickly change their persona once inside a Camies playsuit or tabard. The new material has been tested to the same standard used to check for fire retardancy in children's nightwear and meets the required health and safety standards. The fabric is breathable so a child wearing a Camies can move around comfortably. However, the garments, although well made, have a limited lifespan.
Year 2 pupils at Trimdon Grange Infant School in County Durham used the tabards as part of a project on Caribbean music and dance. The children researched carnival designs using books and the internet as a resource and then realised their painted designs on to Camies tabards. The finished costumes were later worn in a concert, performed for parents and the local community.
Catherine Worton, the teacher responsible for the project, said: "The tabards were crucial to the success of the project because they allowed the children to concentrate on the cultural aspects of the design, rather than the garment structure. The paints proved highly effective and the costumes withstood a number of carnival rehearsals."
Role-play and drama can be a springboard for creative writing, and help develop language and mathematical understanding. Role-play provides children with the opportunity to experience situations and express emotions in a safe environment. Having a quick and easy resource at hand to create new outfits or scenes will certainly provide an extra dimension, encouraging children to participate.
Koloron would prove useful when setting up imaginative play areas, or staging plays - painting scenes to suit. Its suppleness means that it can provide an excellent backdrop for wall displays, and as it is washable it can be reused when the display is changed.
The company website has lots of suggestions for activities on how to use the products in the classroom and there is illustrative material to print off. Professor Ken Baynes, chair for design and technology at Loughborough University, is editor of the site and can be contacted by e-mail link through the site. The creative possibilities of Koloron are endless and as varied as the children's own imaginative ideas.
DuPont Koloron can be bought from the roll (1.5m wide) at pound;1.99 per metre. Pack prices range from pound;9.50 for 10 Camies Tops to pound;39.45 for a pack of 10 Camies Playsuits. A set of six coloured paints is pound;4.99Available from the Big Fun Toys amp; Sunshine Co. Fax: 0870 241 6951 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.bigfuntoys.net.
Lorraine Frankish is an early years tutor for Rutland Lifelong Learning Service