Friday, December 2, 2011

Mouse Paint and preschool painting tips...

So, I am apparently feeling mousy this week!  What can I say, the sun was out today, not a hint of winter weather (not that I am complaining, I hate driving in the snow) so I was in the mood for a non-holiday, good old fun activity. 

First, we read...
Mouse Paint, by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Let me give you a little background (because it really isn't a Whitney post without a tangent, now is it?) I searched the house looking for my copy of this, no luck.  So, I went for my old standby, hold at the library.  Anyway, when it 'became available for pickup,' I was surprised to find it was a board book, I recall having only seen the paperback version previously.  But, you know, I love me a board book!  So user friendly for the fat little digits! 

This is a simple story of three little mice who outsmart a cat and they just happen to have some color mixing fun while they're at it!  It's a great preschool book and it could also be a nice pick for an early reader, especially if they are working on the color words becoming sight words.  

After reading, we did a simple color mixing activity of our own...

When I first thought of posting Mouse Paint, my brain was churning the ideas for a neat activity.  I thought about mouse feet shaped sponges and plastic Halloween mice dipped in paint, and a bunch of other off the wall stuff.  But I stopped myself (you're welcome) because the point here is color mixing.  Kids don't need a mouse shaped utensil to have fun color mixing.  Plus, preschool activities should be manageable and accessible for the planner or let's face it, you aren't gonna do it. 

So, take a piece of paper, I like to cut mine into triangles so there is a clear area for each primary color, and put a blob of red, yellow, and blue somewhere on the page.

Since we had just read the book I didn't have to give too much instruction, I did remind my little painter to clean her brush after creating a new color, but that was about it. 

Lots of people are afraid to let kids paint at home because they think it is too messy.  I disagree-- it doesn't have to be messy!  See how I have controlled the amount of paint? I don't know if the photo is very clear, but it's not a mountainous blob, it's a flat circular smear of paint (these are technical measurement terms here), plenty for color mixing fun.  You can always give a little more half way through if needed.

Here's my next tip, skip the giant cup of water for rinsing!  Yes, it is going to get knocked over and spill everywhere and wreck the painting, so just stop using it. 

As you see below, I put a folded paper towel (or I've used a sponge before) in a dish and run just a little water over it, you want the paper towel to be totally wet, but not floating in water.  When the kids push their brush on the towel, water will come out and rinse it off!  Magical for them and way less messy! 

Today I put a dry paper towel next to the rinsing tub so she could dry her brush a bit.  If you are painting with watercolors, that wouldn't be necessary. For color mixing, a little thicker of paint works better, so go with the blotter towel.   

Actually, when it comes to watercolors, I am so stress free when I make these little rinse tubs that I have been known to let all my kids, including a child under the age of two, sit at the table and paint while I am over in the kitchen working on something else.  A hover-free project, the best kind.   

Also, a note about choosing panit, washable paint is great! But, if  you are worried, especially with dark colors, add a squirt of liquid dish soap to the paint and that should make it easier to clean.  

And, if you are doing color mixing, you'll want to do a little test before hand to make sure the colors mix true to form-- some paints don't hold the color right or something.  This stuff is something that came in a kit from Costco ages ago (made by Elmer's, FYI).  It cleaned up in a snap!  See, one baby wipe took care of the whole job, including hands. 


I hope this makes painting seem more realistic, and less of a hassle.  If anyone has any other preschool painting tips, please share.  We love hearing about ways to make life easier!
Happy reading and painting!

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