Q: Why do an art project after reading Toe Shoe Mouse?
A: Because it extends the learning!
The collage project I've been doing at readings of Toe Shoe Mouse has been working beautifully. So I'm sharing it here with teachers, librarians, parents, book sellers, and any others who might want to pair it with a reading of the book.
In the story, Toe Shoe Mouse visits the costume shop, snips off pieces of ribbon, then arranges them artfully to win the heart of the ballerina. If young readers are given a variety of ribbons, rickrack and braid to work with, how will they arrange them? And what will they learn?
This young man chose rickrack for his collage after hearing the new word in the story.
When reading, kids are introduced to a whole host of words they otherwise wouldn't be exposed to, words that don't necessarily come up in conversation. What are some of the words in Toe Shoe Mouse
that might be new to kids? Costume shop, rickrack, braid, circlet of sequins, satin, velvet, snip, strand, and sash. The concrete experience kids get from working with the materials in the art project are memorable and meaningful.
The learning is in the process, not the product.
Kids will have a variety of ideas about which ribbons to choose and how to arrange them. As always, the process is more important than the product. Maybe kids fold the pieces into shapes or letters. And while working, they're exploring the physical properties of the materials. Do some pieces glue more easily than others? Why? Are short pieces easier to glue than long? They also employ problem solving: How can I make these fit? How can I anchor a piece that's more stubborn?
Using tulle as a scrim.
This young artist made a frame out of ribbons. She also got the idea to overlay her collage with a piece of pink tulle (the stuff of tutus), so it acted as a delicate scrim. Interestingly, when I've done the project in other settings, other kids have spontaneously come up the same idea! The properties of the materials themselves suggest possibilities.
• GLUE STICKS OR GLUE
Where do you get the ribbons? Admit it: you've got a whole bag of fancy odds and ends stashed away, bits you've saved over the years. To supplement my own stash, I found some rickrack, braid, sequins and other trim at a 99¢ store. To illustrate "spools," I used inexpensive curling ribbon. I also brought a length of pink tulle, the stuff of tutus.
Here's the art in the book for the costume shop. Jennifer A. Bell, the illustrator, did a beautiful job showing the spools of ribbon and trim.
It's fun to set up a display of materials mimicking the arrangement in the costume shop. I put all the odds and ends of loose ribbon in the big basket that's on the floor.
Putting loose ribbons in a basket makes them easier to find and fun to sort.
Though sometimes the ribbons end up in a jumble. Learning is messy!
Here, everyone is choosing the color of card stock they wanted as their base.
You can use any kind of paper for the collage, but I made a template of Toe Shoe Mouse and the ballerina, and printed it out on card stock of different colors. "Help Toe Shoe Mouse arrange the ribbons artfully for the ballerina!" You can download the template below, or in the top left column.
So artful! We think the ballerina in the story would really like the way these kids arranged their ribbons.