Saturday, July 12, 2014

Storytime Favorites: Mouse Paint

Ellen Stoll Walsh's Mouse Paint, the tale of three little mice who find paint to play with and discover color combinations along the way, was one of my early favorite storytime books. I love the color combinations, I love the clean art, and I love hiding from the cat. As you might guess, our storytime kids had heard this as a book a number of times. I'd been thinking about creating a flannel board somehow, but there was a more exciting option.

One of my staff members had mentioned this kit, inherited from a prior children's librarian. I always thought we should dig it out and try it on our kids, but I never have. When we selected "colors" as a storytime theme, I decided to go ahead and just do it. And guys, it's genius.

What you need:
Six plastic cups
One large water bottle
Food Coloring
White tape (optional)
Mouse die-cuts (optional)
and of course a copy of the book.

To prep, wrap  a thin strip of tape around the base of the plastic cups and tape a mouse to the outside of the cup. (As you can see, I didn't get the chance to add mice. But I want to next time.)

Before storytime, put one or two drops of food coloring in three of the cups (red, yellow, or blue), and leave the other cups empty. Do not fill of the cups with water yet.

I set the whole thing up on a small moving table we're fortunate enough to have. I pushed it against the wall behind me until we were ready for this story, then pulled it out so the kids could see.

When the first mouse jumps into the red puddle, pour water from the bottle into the cup with red food coloring. Wow - magic! Kids see clear water suddenly transforming into red water.

As you read, do this with the other colors, so you have one cup each of red, yellow, and blue. But what about the three empty cups?

In the book, the red mouse jumps into the yellow puddle and dances around until he gets orange, of course. The other mice follow suit with different puddles, creating the other secondary colors.

You can recreate this by mixing your colored water in the empty cups. Get the kids to predict which color you'll get with each mixture. It's worth noting, too, that as long as you put enough food coloring in and have perfectly clear cups, the colors are beautiful and jewel-like. Love it.

Some things to note: It's a good idea to run through this a couple of times to work on timing and water amounts before doing it for real. Also, in storytime, I was juggling the book, the water, and the cups. If you're lucky enough to have an assistant (an intern, a volunteer, or even a helpful parent) they could take over the water and the cups as you read. Or you could type up the story on a piece of paper and read from that, but I do love Walsh's illustrations.

We have the whole kit (cups, water bottle, food coloring) saved in a bag for when we want to use it next. And we will be using it again.

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