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I found a new book to love: Perfect Square by Michael Hall. Do you know it? It came out in 2001, so it’s not exactly new, but I’d never heard of it until my brother mentioned it to me a few months ago. Fast forward to this week when I finally got around to checking it out from the library, and I’m in LOVE.
The simple story has more depth than your four-year-old will see, but that’s what makes it beautiful. It’s one of those rare books that really speaks to both adults and children.
In the story, a perfect square is ripped, cut, and shattered each day of the week, but each time, the square chooses to make itself into something beautiful. As soon as I read the book with Little Man, I immediately knew I wanted to use it for our home preschool. Little Man seemed intrigued by the story, so I pulled out some origami paper that I’ve had for a decade (seriously), and we got to work imagining our own squares into various creations.
Here are the simple materials we used:
- Origami paper (or you could just cut any paper you have into squares)
- Scissors (Little Man loved using my old scrapbooking scissors from before the world went digital)
- Hole punch
- Glue (if you want to save your creations (we just enjoyed the process and didn’t glue ours)
- Lots of imagination!
It was a wonderfully spontaneous activity that both Little Man and I loved. At first, Little Man wasn’t quite sure what to do with his paper. He would think of an idea, and then he would ask me how to make it. It was tempting to give him ideas, but I felt strongly that this was one time that I needed to be totally hands-off in order to let his creativity to shine through. Instead, I just talked to him about his ides and let him watch me as I made my own pictures.
After a bit of frustration over the scalloped scissors not doing what he wanted, he settled in and really seemed to enjoy the “no rules” nature of the project, which is exactly what I hoped for.
Sometimes I get too involved in “helping” him with the projects that we do, and they turn into mine instead of his. But I want him to know that his ideas and creations are as valid and valuable as mine.
Here are some of our creations:
Little Man’s ocean
Little Man’s fish
All in all, this was an extremely simple, yet rewarding, activity. It was a great way to develop and reading comprehension skills (predicting “what do you thing the square will become next?), to talk about shapes and colors, and to practice fine motor skills. Not to mention embracing the joy of bringing your imagination to life!
Even though I don’t think that Little Man consciously grasps the message of resilience and creativity in the book, I hope that the ideas are sinking into some corner of his mind and will resurface when he needs them later in life.
What are your favorite books to read with your kids? Do you have any fun preschool art activities that you’ve done along with reading them?
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