As part of our Early Reader Book Club at the library we read the fun and fantastic junior graphic novel Squish: Super Amoeba, by Jennifer and Matthew Holm (who brought us the equally fun an fantastic Babymouse series).
Our book club meetings typically included an informal discussion and some themed activities. For this 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 terrified 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.
Perhaps not surprisingly 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 create 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. They came up with some really fantastic little Squish-inspired creations, and really had a blast!
When it comes to paint, fortune favours the bold (and prepared), so why not give it a go?