Beautiful Oops!

I suppose I shouldn’t have complained back in December that we didn’t have any snow yet for our Welcome Winter book club meeting, because now it’s mid-March, there are single-digit wind-chills, another forecasted snowfall, and we have CABIN-FEVER! I think we’re all ready for spring-colors around here, but we are going to have to be patient for at least a little while longer. So in the meantime, we introduced bright colors into our Baby Book Club meeting this month with the delightfully illustrated and highly interactive book: Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg!

The book is all about turning an artistic “oops” into a creative masterpiece. A torn piece of paper becomes the mouth of an alligator, a crumpled up piece of paper becomes the body of a sheep, little drips of paint become the wheels of a car, and so on. This is a book that will grow with our toddlers. For now, they are quite captivated by the flaps to lift, the accordions to pull (see the following photos slide show for an illustration), and the other 3-D elements of the book. As they get older, they will likely pick up on the overall message of the book, which is to embrace mistakes as the sparks of creativity.

The book was, truthfully, a good lesson for us as parents too. It’s such a pretty book that a few of us admitted it was hard to hand it over to the grubby, rough, flap-tearing hands of our toddlers. But, as soon as they accidently tore a page of the book and the words, “oops” escaped our mouths, we remembered the moral of the story and that this was a book to be read and loved. So we promptly just fetched the scotch tape.

After a group reading of the book, we handed the kids a tub full of visually and textually vibrant scraps (paper, tissue, felt, fabric, feathers, doilies, ribbons, yarn, pipe cleaners, magazine clippings, foil, etc.) and encouraged them to place the scraps onto the sticky side of clear contact paper. Exploring the materials was part of the process. After they completed the collages, we flipped the contact paper over and adhered it to a piece of construction paper, using masking tape around the edges when needed. There are so many sources for contact paper collage ideas. Here’s one source, but know that there are lots of others out there: http://www.learnwithplayathome.com/2012/08/15-fun-ways-to-use-contact-paper.html?m=1 .

Snack time was another project! We “painted” toast. To create the paint, we poured milk into a few sections of an ice cube tray for each child and added a drop or two of food coloring. We found that “neon” food coloring created the most vibrant colors. The toddlers then got a clean (not previously used) paintbrush to use to paint a piece of bread. After painting was completed, we toasted the bread and handed it over for snack time. The toddlers didn’t seem to mind eating dry toast, but an older child might prefer it buttered.

I have seen many examples of painted toast, but one source of inspiration came from this link: http://shareandremember.blogspot.com/2011/06/rainbow-painted-toast.html. Note that this site says, “white bread works best”, but we all brought whole-wheat bread for our kids and didn’t have any problem with the color showing up. Given our goal of providing healthy snacks for the kids, I recommend wheat. Also, food coloring doesn’t ordinarily make my list of “healthy foods”, but it doesn’t take much to color the milk and so little actually ends up on the bread, that I think the process is worth the product in this case! (For those who are really concerned, there are natural/vegetable based food colorings out there, but these are quite a bit more expensive.)

The painted toast was bright, beautiful, and added a little color to our dreary March-day! See the  slideshow below for pictures of the final product. Let’s hope for spring-like weather for our next meeting in April. Even if the weather doesn’t permit, we’ll be dreaming of laying outside and staring at the sky as we read: Little Cloud, by Eric Carle!

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