I have a penchant for books that are just plain silly, both in premise and in the delivery (rhymes, alliterations, and made-up words – all great for phonemic awareness). Moosetache by Margie Palatini is that kind of book. In this story, a moose is tormented by his unruly and prolific mustache. His problems are finally solved when he meets the moose of his dreams and she introduces him to a special pot of glue she uses to tame her own crazy locks.
Margie Palatini uses an unconventional style of wordplay, not exactly your sing-songy and predictable rhythm you find in many children’s books, but a fantastic blend of rhyme and alliteration with words that often streak across the page, almost defining the meaning through word art. It’s a unique and enjoyable book for all ages!
The Secret Recipe
After reading this story, I like to have children mix up some of their own very special “goop”, like the one in the book. We make paste by mixing 1 part water and 2 parts flour along with a little bit of salt -a pinch or a few teaspoon depending upon the size of your batch. I think I used a teaspoon of salt with my batch that had 2 cups of flour. The salt helps keep the mix from becoming moldy after it’s been used on a project. For me, that’s a good reason to remember the salt! (Find more details on making homemade paste here.) You can determine how large or small to make your batch. Perhaps you want to make one big batch with a group of children all taking turns mixing and scooping. Maybe you’d like to give each child a chance to mix his or her own batch in a smaller cup. Just keep everything in the 1:2 ratio.
There are a lot of ways to use this as a fun math activity to do with your children! Explore ratios and even multiplication by mixing one Tbsp of water and two of flour in a small container, and then in another bowl, placing two Tbsp of water and asking your children how many Tbsp of flour you should add. You could also use a variety of measurement tools to explore volume. Mix one batch in the 1:2 ratio using cups and another using tablespoons.
Tame the Mane
Once you’ve mixed up the paste, you can pull out some string, twine, or yarn, some child scissors, and some colored paper, and let the children go to work, cutting and gluing to their own design, creating an experience similar to that of the two moose trying to style their hair.
Now this would probably fall under the “random art projects” category. Many people are uncomfortable with these projects because they don’t end up with “something”, but the children really get into it, selecting their own color of construction paper, their own color(s) of yarn, and deciding exactly what to do with it. Some even cut up the edges of their papers and add that to the paste as well! You really have to consider the Spectrum of Preschool Arts and Crafts here. Think about the objectives and learning opportunities that have come into play. The children are getting tons of fine motor practice as they are able to cut with scissors and manipulate the string, placing it into the paste they have brushed into place. They see how the paste works (and they love that they made that paste themselves). You can introduce math concepts and compare lengths as they cut the string and talk about “longer” and “shorter”. You can explore the geometric concept of a line, as well as art concepts, as you talk about straight lines, wavy lines, and spiraling lines.
The children may create free-form, abstract art, or some may ask for crayons to draw a face and create a mustache just like the moose in the book. They key to real creativity in this instance is to let them decide what to do with those materials. Letting go and giving opportunities for true free art can really build a child’s self-esteem, avoid frustration burn-outs, and on top of it all, you just might be surprised at what they come up with when you give them a little more control over their projects! We grown-ups aren’t the only ones with good ideas!
Margie Palatini says
I am so on board w/your suggestions and encouragement of “random art projects”.
I hope you are hearing my applause. 🙂
— Appreciate your nice words on Moosetache.
(He’s always been one of my favorite characters.)
Thanks for your support – and your applause! Thanks also for introducing us to the wonderful world of Moose!