When I was thinking of the project to do for mosaic with paper, I knew right away what it will be – Elmer, the patchwork elephant. Smarty is a big fan of Elmer stories, and I thought it will be fun for her to make a stick puppet of Elmer. I found a pattern for him here.
Well, I was wrong. Smarty was not enthusiastic at all. I felt that I was almost forcing her to get the project to the state where we could consider it completed. A few lessons I learned here:
Don’t make your child do a project just because it says so on your plan for the week. Smarty had a late nap and looked very much out of it when we started. I did suggest that maybe we will do it another time, but she said grumpily that she wants to do it, so we persevered.
- Do not get overambitious. I had about 8 long lines for her to cut, and a big elephant to cover with patchwork. I helped her cut, but I think that in her sour mood she immediately deemed the project too hard for her. At some point she looked at me and said with reproach (I kid you not), You know, mama, I am just a little girl! If I did the project the same, I’d choose a much smaller pattern (or downsized it) and would precut some of the paper.
- Don’t push it. Smarty was done rather quickly. I talked her into making an ear for an elephant and gluing two parts to make a craft stick puppet, but all this seemed very forced. Both of us were rushing to get this project out of the way. Not at all how open-ended art should be (and was for us last week). I think it has something to do with my desire to do something “useful” while she most likely didn’t want to do anything in the first place.
Finally, her puppet was done, and I suggested that she can add it to her theater. That’s when she transformed into her happy self – engrossed in her own world, excited, talking non-stop, inventing situations. At some point she decided that her lion puppet needs a lifesaver. She ran back to the table, snipped, glued a piece of paper together, and here it was. That was a true burst of her own creativity – genuine, unguided, unforced. I hope to see more of it as her pretend play develops. In fact, I am trying to sort of limit her play props (play food, etc.), so she could exercise this kind of creativity more.