Making A. Blob Slime!
Last week, I shared about my visit to an elementary school and the incredible conversations that were sparked by reading the picture book, This is A. Blob, by L.A. Kefalos. This week, I will be sharing about the slime craft we did and the lessons we were able to learn as we created.
I have posted about the A. Blob Slime Craft in previous blogs. It’s such a fun craft with a perfect connection to the slimy A. Blob of the book that I knew I just had to do the craft with the students.
First, I brought out all the slime-making materials, set them in front of the students, and asked if we had slime yet. After looking at me like I was a crazy person, they gave a puzzled “no”. Of course we didn’t have slime yet. The ingredients need to be mixed together and then they will become slime.
Similarly, a mean word here or an exclusion there doesn’t,at first, seem like that big of a deal. However, those words, like the slime ingredients, add up and react with one another. They stick with people and burden them down, staying in hearts and minds long after they’ve been said.
I asked the students if they remembered something kind someone had said to them. A simple “yes” or a “no” was all I expected, but the students' faces lit up immediately as they raised their hands, dying to tell the class the compliment or act of kindness they had received. The answers ranged far and wide, from physical compliments, to befriending someone on their first day at a new school, to a simple “I love you” from a parent. Even children who had been moody or had come in with a bad attitude softened as they remembered a kind word and shared that bit of confidence with the class.
The first time I did this lesson with students, I asked them to recall something mean someone had said or done to illustrate how those unkind actions can stick with us. However, I found that asking them to remember words of kindness had a far greater impact. Not only did it open the students up, it provided a good example of why and how we should act with kindness. Children are told over and over to not be mean, but how often are they reminded to be kind? Sometimes, showing kids what to do is just as important as telling them what not to do.
Next, we mixed the ingredients. The students LOVED watching the purple water/glue mixture magically become a blob as the borax was added. Once the blob was mixed up, the librarian and I divided it into equal parts and allowed the students to take it back to their tables to play. It was such fun watching them get creative with their slime! In this day and age, children spend so much of their time behind computers, taking tests, or filling out worksheets. Giving them the opportunity to use their imaginations, get a little messy, and have fun was a true joy.
In more than one class, one student would try to snag another student’s slime or would say something unkind to another as they played. Just as I or the librarian would be about to step in, another student would say “We JUST talked about being kind and not bullying! Be kind!” Through a picture book and a simple craft, these children were learning the importance of kindness.
Before the students left, I sent them home with a simple reminder “Like A. Blob, your words will stick—kind or mean. Chose them wisely!” I also challenged each of them to do one extra thing that day to show kindness.
I leave you now with the same challenge.
Do you have a fun way of teaching kids about kindness? Let us know about it in the comments below!
For full directions on how to make your own A. Blob Slime, check out our previous post, This is A. Blob SLIME Craft! Kids learn how bullying can become a big, slimy blob!
This is A. Blob is a masterfully illustrated picture book suitable for children ages 4-8. Written by Lori Kefalos, author of several animated shorts, including “Who’s that Knocking,” “Chug,” and “Croc, Pots and Wildebeests,” which was nominated for Best Independent Short Short, Ages 5-8, at the 2009 Kid’s First Film Festival and for best short at The Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival, This is A. Blob is the first of a series following this bully.
This first installment follows the antics of A. Blob, a slimy, purple, blob-like creature who wreaks havoc on the elementary school playground with its bullying ways. As the story progresses, however, readers learn that A. Blob may have more than meets the eye.
Along with its powerful illustrations and rhymed verse for early readers, this story invites children to put themselves in the shoes of another. The book encourages readers to consider why bullies behave the way they do – and start to consider what can be done to help.
I have written before on the often overlooked benefits of using picture books as educational tools among all ages. While many have a tendency to write picture books off as simple entertainment for the very young, studies have shown that picture books can be powerful tools for teaching, even at the high school level (read some of the studies here, here, and here).
”To me, it’s an easy access point,” stated Brianna Crowley, a Pennsylvania high school teacher, in an article for The School Library Journal. “To them, it’s going to feel so accessible, but as a professional I’m going to know how to question to help them go deeper.”
This fact was driven home last week as I shared the picture book, This is A. Blob, by L.A. Kefalos, with over 300 elementary students, ranging from Kindergarten through 5th grade. The younger students were immediately captivated by the cover illustration and excited to read the story. The 5th graders, on the other hand, immediately gave the book a wary eye.
This was a picture book.
Hadn’t they outgrown those years ago? If I’m being honest, this was my initial thought, as well. This is A. Blob is a fantastic book, but would 5th grade students be able to see past its illustrations and minimal language to appreciate the important message it communicated? It turns out, we were both surprised.
As soon as the book was opened, every student was drawn to the vibrant illustrations of Yuri Fialko. Even the older students were intrigued by the funny looking A. Blob on the cover and cringed at the sticky trail of purple slime it oozed over the other characters in the book. Captivated by the illustrations, the students were more open to the message of the story.
This nonthreatening quality is part of what makes picture books key tools for introducing difficult topics. Prior to reading the book, the students were asked to make some predictions on the personality of the main character, A. Blob, and I could tell that they were curious to see if their predictions were correct. I mentioned This is A. Blob was written, in part, because the author saw people around her not treating one another well and that she wanted to help people understand the consequences of unkindness. I never used the term “bully” or told them much more about the story.
Had I said we were going to read a book about bullying, I may have received some eye rolls or a barrage of stories and comments. The students, having been told not to bully so many times before, may have shut down. Instead, they lit up with curiosity when they saw a picture book with an interesting name and a unique looking character. Their walls were down and they wanted to hear what the author had to say.
The critical thinking prompted by the interplay of the illustrations and text in picture books is simply unmatched by any other medium; a fact which came through in my interactions with the students. There is one page in This is A. Blob that has just two short sentences: “This is A. Blob. A lonely purple gob.” With the opposite page showing a close-up of one of A. Blob’s eyes; a single tear streaming down its face. Even the most outspoken students were silent. This was a side of the character they had not expected. There were few words, but that one tear spoke volumes. You could see the wheels turning in their heads.
One student said he understood how A. Blob felt because he had moved schools last year and knew what it was like to feel left out. To him, This is A. Blob was a story about being different. Another student said her sister had been mean to her, like A. Blob, but she was nice to her sister and her sister started being nice to her. To this girl, the story was about the power of kindness. A kindergarten student said maybe A. Blob was mean because it didn’t like being purple. To her, this was a book about self-acceptance.
That’s the great thing about picture books. Their simplicity leaves so much open for interpretation. Over the course of 4 days, I spoke with over 300 students and the responses I received ranged far and wide. Because the story was simple, the students could insert their own experiences and interpretations. As a result of reading this short picture book, 300 students as young as 5 all the way up to 10, opened up to discuss empathy, the causes and consequences of bullying, how to deal with differences, self acceptance, problem solving, and other critical subjects.
So, were we reading a picture book? Yes. However, by the end of our discussion, none of the students were focused on the fact that we were talking about a picture book anymore. They were talking about real life problems and how to solve them.
Have you ever used picture books to open the discussion on a difficult subject? Have you read picture books to older students? Share your experiences in the comments below!
Check back here next week to read Part II of this school visit blog where I discuss how we made our own A. Blob slime and talked about the stickiness of words.
The writer visited two elementary schools with the picture book This is A. Blob, by L.A. Kefalos. To learn more about the author, visit her author page, or follow her on Facebook!
This is A. Blob is a masterfully illustrated picture book suitable for children ages 4-8. Written by Lori Kefalos, author of several award-nominated animated shorts, This is A. Blob is the first of a series following this bully. This first installment follows the antics of A. Blob, a slimy, purple, blob-like creature who wreaks havoc on the elementary school playground with its bullying ways. As the story progresses, however, readers learn that there might be more to A. Blob than meets the eye. Along with its powerful illustrations and rhymed verse for early readers, this story invites children to put themselves in the shoes of another. The book demonstrates that a bully can come in any shape, size, or color and encourages readers to consider why bullies behave the way they do – and start to consider what can be done to help.
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This is A. Blob by L. A Kefalos. $14.95
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