“Elmer” by David McKee

For the first project idea I am posting I am going with an oldie but goodie.  My first year teaching I worked with a woman named Susan Akman and this first book choice and project comes from her.  I am starting with this because I want to promote sharing among teachers, artists and everyone.  I know that she would be happy that I am sharing this project and would only ask for recognition.  Another reason I am starting with this one is it has a simple but fantastic technique that is exciting for students of all  ages.

The first book I am highlighting is Elmer by David McKee this is a story about an elephant who is multicolored patchwork and not grey like the other elephants.  He goes for a walk and finds a bush of elephant color berries that he rubs all over his body to disguise himself because he is tired of being different.  No one recognizes him until it starts to rain and the berry juice is washed away.  All the other elephants think he has performed the best joke ever and honor him for being different and great.  This book is heart warming and a good lesson in tolerance and loving yourself.

I have seen many different lessons to go along with this book, but I like this one because it is simple and about color and shape.  I use this lesson with 3 – 4 year olds we start by talking about what shape Elmer’s patchwork is “squares.”  We look at all the different colors that the squares are on Elmer.  We glue tissue paper squares onto wax paper with liquid starch.

Set-up – I prepare a piece of wax paper taped to newspaper, that is a few layers thick and about the size of the folded newspaper, for each student.  The wax paper may be hard for students to see as it blends in with the newspaper because it is clear so I also let students feel the wax paper so they understand what they are working on.  I fill cups with a small amount of liquid starch.  I have had trouble finding liquid starch in the past but now the company School Specialty has started carrying it yay! http://store.schoolspecialtyonline.net/OA_HTML/ibeCCtpItmDspRte.jsp?item=475459&minisite=10206 I like using the small foam brushes in the liquid starch it is great for students to spread the liquid starch gently on the wax paper.  I also cut out a variety of colors of tissue paper into small squares with sides that are about two inch long.  I put the tissue paper on trays for each student.  The students spread the liquid starch onto the wax paper and carefully drop a piece of tissue paper on, the tissue paper absorbs the liquid starch and sticks to the wax paper.  Students like to layer the tissue paper and experiment with how the colors mix.  I have had students layer many colors of tissue paper until it is so dark it is almost black, they are very proud of themselves.  The only difficulty is when students try to brush the liquid starch on top of the tissue paper it can make it clump up or rip so they need to be gentle or drip the liquid starch on.

Once the collages dry I cut them off of the news paper and the excess wax paper (if there is any) and hang tape them to the windows of the school they look great and they are all different.


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