Mouse Paint

In a rare moment, when all of the book club stars aligned this month, the children (nearly) all sat and listened to this whole book, engaged in the activity, and basically all ate the snack. Although may of the children are often engaged in our meetings, these are very young children, so it’s rare that they nearly ALL sit engaged for such a large portion of the meeting (and we don’t expect them to). We all noticed the difference this month. Was it that they just LOVED this book? Was it the activity and snack that we chose to pair with the book? Was it the fact that we covered up most of the toys with sheets in the room before the meeting? Are they just growing up? Was it because there was a full moon the night before?! It was probably an element of all of these factors. (Well, maybe not the moon, but really, that’s not my area of expertise!)

Whatever the reason for the high level of engagement, this meeting was a great success! We read, Mouse Paint, by Ellen Stoll Walsh, a simple, but classic book about three mice who play in the primary colors of paint (red, yellow, and blue) and discover color mixing. The book explains color mixing simply and in a way easy for young children to understood.

After we read, we did some color mixing of our own using a tried and true method of bag painting. I think I originally discovered bag painting on the Hippie Housewife, but there are so many variations out there and bag painting has become a common early childhood activity that I’ve seen many times. We gave each child a gallon sized ziplock bag with a piece of white card stock, trimmed to fit. Prior to the meeting, I squirted generous amounts of the three colors of paint (red, yellow, and blue) into the bag in three different places and carefully sealed the bag. The kids could use their hands to manipulate the bag (with it closed!) as well as a pair of Q-tip, “mouse feet.” The parents each took the bag home sealed, but could choose to removed the card stock at home, let the paint dry, and save the picture.

After painting, we weren’t done color mixing yet! We had a “play with your food” kind of snack! Before the meeting, I divided vanilla greek yogurt into three glass mason jars (much like the jar of mouse paint in the book) and used food coloring to create red, yellow, and blue yogurt “paint”. I originally tried to make homemade natural dyes. My red and yellow turned out just fine, but I could not get a blue color that I found satisfactory (and I learned a decent amount about food science in the process)! In the end, I needed only a few drops of each food coloring to dye the yogurt and the children ate such a small amount of each jar, that I decided that convenience and effectiveness would win out!

The kids each got a white plate as their “paper,” a spoonful of each color of yogurt “paint,” and mini stick pretzel “brushes.” It was so much fun to see their reaction as they swirled the paint around and made new colors on their plates! It was very easy to get a color change reaction using vanilla greek yogurt and food coloring. This activity can also go over well with older kids. I tried it out with my kindergartener and he loved it too!

This month was full of very engaged kids! Be sure to check back to see how we “dig” up some fun again next month!

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