Most of the children in my classroom can reproduce an image of a bird or a turtle by tracing puzzle pieces and some may do so simply by their own hand alone - the image retrieved from memory. But only a few of my older students can manipulate the image of a bird so that it is either sitting on a nest or in flight. These same students are meticulous in the details of their artwork. To me this work, this creative extension of art, is parallel to the leap to abstraction with the sensorial materials. They have mastered skills and are now using them to create without hesitations associated with immaturity (such as illustrating everything like rainbows), lack of focus / concentration and underdeveloped motor skills. They no longer seek others to compliment their work as they know it is excellent. They are so immersed in their art that they decline snack and work with dance or music specialists. They moan when the bell rings as they don't want to leave their work. Maria Montessori writes about the spirituality of work using phraseology similar to Kandinsky’s in his text, "The Spirituality of Art." However, if you don't want to consider a child's behaviour during focused work in terms of spiritual transcendence (Maria Montessori writes of the spirituality of work) , then think of it as transcendence towards maturity, a move away from childhood towards adolescence.
I have put together the following series of images (I will add images of punch work and sewing to this incomplete survey soon) to visualize the work that the child does prior to using a set of watercolors to paint.
A lesson on shading using the metal insets.
Work with color tablets, including the starburst which displays shading of colors from darkest to lightest.
Tracing the outline of the botanical shapes held in the botany cabinet (my training called for an orange stick to do this work, but my students prefer their finger). This same work is done with the geometry cabinet.
Above, an older child uses a pencil and tracing paper to trace the outline of each state (the black and white guide is underneath her paper) as a preliminary step towards painting the map.