This past week we have been learning and exploring with Eric Carle’s “The Mixed-Up Chameleon”. It is a story of a small green chameleon that wants to be like everyone else, i.e. “Big and strong like a bear” and “fancy like a flamingo”. As he makes his wishes, he transforms into a crazy mixed up creature. In the end he learns that being himself is the best.
This story made for some great discussion about what makes each of us special. We used the characters from the story to describe ourselves. I said I was as caring as an elephant and Eden said she was as smart as a fox.
All of Eric Carle’s books are great and one of my favorite things about them is the illustrations. They are always bright and colorful using a textured layered look that very interesting to look at. We learned that he creates this by glueing layers of different colored tissue paper together.
We explored gluing tissue paper together, but this didn’t turn out as I expected. So we moved to using paint and tried to make our own texture pages. To do this yourself you will need: thick paper (thick paper so that when the different items are scraped, rolled, and mashed around it will hold together and not tear from being so wet), washable paint, and household items to move paint around (paint brushes, toy cars, lids, lego blocks, whisk, straws, etc. and a couple of Eric Carle’s books for reference.
Tape down the paper and set out the supplies. I tried not to give too much direction but rather let Eden explore what kind of texture each of the different items would make. I suggest using one or two colors per area to keep everything from turning out brown. It also worked well to do things in layers. For example this first page Eden finger painted the red and then after it had partially dried she used a scraper to draw lines and make all kinds of marks.
Eli for the first part of our painting exploration played nicely under the table with a few toys but we all started to get excited he became more interested. As he pulled himself up and used the table for support he found a fun surprise under this fingers.
I let him feel the paint a little but then moved him to the leaving room with different toys. He was almost quicker than me getting back to the table for another go at “finger painting.” Even though he was having a blast, it was just too messy. He kept reaching up to touch and then wanted to crawl around. There wasn’t a single toy more interesting in our house at this point so I called in for reinforcements and turned the event into a family affair.
While these dried (it took close to 5 hours), Eden worked with the felt story board I created to retell the story. I got the idea from Chelsey of at Buggy and Buddy. She made a free printable so all I had to do was cut each piece out. She was so cute to watch. As she added each new part to the chameleon, she would giggle and want me to come see. In the past three days she has done the activity at least five times; sometimes usually first retelling the story and then she works to create her own funny combinations.
Once the pages were dry, I cut the different animal shapes out (used those template pages again) and she mixed and matched to create crazy animals similar to the mixed-up chameleon.