Painting in the library, or, Fortune Favours the Bold

As part of an Early Reader Book Club the group read Squish: Super Amoeba, by Jennifer and Matthew Holm.

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Our book club meetings usually include an informal discussion and some themed activities. Since this was our last meeting I wanted to do something a bit special, and a bit out of the ordinary.

The answer? Paint.

Like many individuals who work with children, I’m afraid of paint. Paint gets everywhere. On kids. On clothes. On furniture. And in a library, on books. Paint is scary.

But, fears are meant to be challenged and thus overcome. So, I ventured on to Pinterest in search of painting activities that I could connect with our theme.

Sufficepaint1.jpg to say there’s a severe dearth of amoeba-related children’s craft activities out there on the internet.

I managed to find a few “germ” related activities (by the way, while I appreciate proper hygiene, I think we might be raising a generation of overly-paranoid germaphobes with some of these classroom activities….) that I thought I could adapt to make them amoeba-related, especially this one: blow painted germs. Kids use straws to blow water-thinned paint and create abstract designs.

To create our “amoebas”, the children traced their hands on pieces of paper to create amoebas like “Pod”, and traced their socked feet to paint3create amoebas like “Peggy”, while Squish we would simply draw free-hand in a cloud-like shape.

My coworker and I covered every inch of the children’s tables in newspaper. Now this part is key : DO NOT RELINQUISH CONTROL OF THE SOURCE OF PAINT. I carefully rationed out small amounts of paint to each child, which I think helped keep the mess making to a minimum, as each painter had a controlled amount with which to create.

I did this program with a group of 8 children, aged 7-8 years old, and it went smashingly. I made sure to tell the group that I was trusting them with potentially messy paint because I knew that they were grown-up enough to respect themselves, their space and each other. I wanted to set them up for success, rather than threaten them with potential punishment.

When it comes to paint, fortune favours the bold, so give it a go!

Early Readers Book Club – “Elephant and Piggie”

This week we celebrated the awesomeness that is Mo Willems and his “Elephant and Piggie” series of readers. The children picked their favourite Elephant and Piggie title to read – we had plenty to choose from!

As a craft, we made Elephant and Piggie paper bag puppets, using this template. The kids coloured in their Elephants and Piggies, cut them out and pasted them onto paper bags for an easy and cost-effective craft that worked on a number of different skills. Colouring and cutting help children develop their fine motor skills, and are a lot of fun.

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Once our puppets were complete we took turns acting out some of the different E&P stories! The kids really got into their roles, putting on different voices for the different characters.

Only one more book club session to go! 😦

Early Readers Book Club – “Moo!”

Sometimes all you need is one awesome activity to keep the kids engaged all hour long.

This week we read the hilarious Moo! by David LaRochelle.

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Then we made our own versions of Moo featuring animals of our choosing!

This must be the easiest, budget-friendliest kids activity there is – all you need is a stack of plain paper and various colouring implements. We simply folded our papers in half to make rudimentary booklets, which we then stapled together.

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We worked on this craft for the entire hour, and the room was so quiet you could’ve heard a pin drop. The level of concentration was impressive.

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This week’s activity was so much fun and so popular, I don’t know how I can top it next week! I highly recommend trying an activity like this with school-aged kids – their creativity is always a thing of wonder.

Early Readers Book Club – “Bad Kitty Gets a Bath”

As a long-time book club aficionado, imagine my delight when I was offered the chance to facilitate a book club for kids! The Early Readers Book Club is a weekly, hour-long program for kids K-3.

We started our first meeting with a discussion of rules and expectations. I made a sign highlighting the “rules of book club”:

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The book club is an opportunity for kids to explore and experience books in a positive, creative space, and I really wanted to make sure that the book club wasn’t too reminiscent of school. Rather than sit around and talk about the themes of each book, the emphasis of the hour was on interactive crafts and activities.

For this week’s study of Bad Kitty Gets a Bath we made name tags, tackled a word search, finished a maze, and coloured our own masks. We talked about the book while we worked on the crafts, and I was sure to let the conversation naturally progress in the wonderfully random ways that only conversations with young children can.

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A few things I discovered during this week’s session:

  • Have more activities on hand than you think you will need – kids work at different speeds, particularly when you’re working with a mixed-age group. Having extra activities on hand helps keep kids entertained while they’re waiting for the rest of the group to wrap up.
  • Have a variety of activities ready – The older children devoured the word search, while some of the younger children found it too difficult and grew frustrated. I quickly invented a drawing project to keep the younger children engaged while the older children completed the word search.
  • Go with the flow – I originally planned a series of activities with each project being completely finished before the next one started. In reality, with kids from 6 to 9 years of age in the group I really had to let go. The kids worked at their own speeds depending on their age and their interests – some loved the maze, while others would have been happy just to spend the entire hour drawing. All of the activities tied into the book, so as long as the children were participating in some way, I considered that a success!

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The kids even made me a name tag! Stripes and polka dots, those kids know me well already!