I placed a large sheet of paper and a bucket of markers under my daughter’s art table, and left it there with the hope that she’d discover it and fall in love with the idea of drawing in this unlikely art-making location. In reality, I had to lure her to the spot, provoke her with all sorts of silly comments such as, “I wonder what’s under your table?” and then suggest that she could actually draw in this spot if she wanted to.

drawing under the table

As you can see, she humored me, but for only a handful of seconds. While this was still a good exercise in creative thinking, it wasn’t the lasting activity that I’d imagined. Well, come to think of it, most of our projects don’t sort out in the way I imagine them!

This seemed like a good provocation, but my thought is that the timing wasn’t right, I could have done a better job setting the stage, or it wasn’t her cup of tea. What do you think?

Related Activity

drawing under the table

Here’s a fun factoid and extension for children older than mine (N is almost 3). Michelangelo spent four years on his back painting the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Four Years!! Show children pictures of the Sistine Chapel ceiling and then invite them to draw angels or any image of their choice on paper mounted underneath a table.

And please let me know how it goes — I’d love to try this again one of these days!


  1. Just leave the paper there for a couple of days… she might get interested after a while… 🙂
    Or try letting her choose her favorite drawing tool, e.g. crayon, paint, etc.

    I did something similar with my 2-year-old son, but we used crayola kids’ paint.
    I also put some cushions so that he could rest on the cushions as he painted…
    Some pictures here: http://schooloffun.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/this-way-up/ ‎

    It proves to be addictive! He kept asking to do it again… 😀

    • Good ideas, Nicole! I imagine a lot of paint gets in the face, cushions, etc, but it looks like a lot of fun. And if your son keeps asking for it, he’s obviously invested in the activity!

      • Fortunately, we didn’t get a single drop of paint on the face… Not sure if it was because of the type of paint (maybe it happens to be the fast-drying kind) or it was because of the way my son brushed (i.e. fast and furious – so fast that the paint didn’t have a chance to drip!)…

        In cushions, yes, but I guess it was more because my son kept flinging the brush. Thankfully, we used washable paint…:)

        Good luck to you both! Can’t wait to see her Sistine Chapel… 😉

  2. this is so much fun to do I have it planned for our artist of the month study when we are on him. right now we are doing piet mondrian.

    check out my kids art blog if you get a chance: the color palette: exploring art with kids

    • thanks for sharing a link to your blog. back in my teaching days that sand painting activity was one of my kids’ favorites!

  3. One thing I like about your post today, is the honesty of our children – if somethings doesn’t click for them, they won’t bend themselves all out of shape to please us adults. This reaction to a proposed activity on my part has happened many times.

    Something else I like is the idea itself, it looks like fun!!!
    Maybe another day N. will try it. I like the idea of talking about painting on ceilings and laying on one’s back. I wonder if there might be a children’s picture book featuring something like this. Possibly one about laying on one’s back and looking at the clouds – like It Looked like
    Spilt Milk? Hmmm….Rachelle, maybe it is time for you to write a children’s picture book about the sistine chapel, and children following this example. This could be fun!

    • Hi Brenda~ Thanks for the thoughtful comment 🙂 The truth is that not all projects are winners. I don’t often share my failures, but I think it’s important to do so once in a while to release us from the expectation that children should enjoy whatever we provide them with. And I like your idea about a children’s book! It’s definitely something to think about!!

    • Thanks for the link. You kids are really loved this project!! We’ll give it a go another time, for sure.

  4. 🙂 I came on here to say one thing… persist! But, I see it has already been said by those more eloquant than me. I would leave it up and see where N. takes it over the week. I love under table drawing! What about other things she loves to do… doing them upsidedown? A bowl of cotton balls and a glue stick under that table might draw her in, and provide concepts relating to gravity… Maybe throw a blanket over the table, and offer a flashlight… trying to coordinate the light and the materials would be an interesting challenge. 🙂 Thank you so much for your daily inspiration!

    • You’re right, Kim. I didn’t mention that it was up for 2 weeks, but it’s definitely worth trying again…next time with cushions, a blanket, flashlight (!!) and a new (more exciting) medium. Thanks for all the ideas.

  5. I did this when I worked with school-age children and they loved it! We used paint but it does drip. I never thought to use markers with little ones!

    • This is the 3rd mention of paint, and I was wondering about the drips! We should probably try it anyhow 🙂

      • What if you made the paint thick, maybe with flour? It might still drip, but more in globs than splats. 🙂

  6. Wat a neat idea! I think I will do this with a pail of crayons and just leave it to be discovered! haha! I am curious to see how long it will take to be found!!

    • I wondered the same thing, and you already know how it went at my house 🙂 Do let me know!

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