Books are a fantastic way to learn.
As we read, we begin to see ourselves and our own situations through those occurring on the page. Diving into adventures and immersing ourselves into created worlds, we hardly notice that lessons are being taught. Yes, books are an incredible teaching tool, and, as many parents and teachers have learned, the impact books have is compounded exponentially when combined with discussion and/or hands-on connective activities. We know this, so we bring you:
For those who may not know, This is A. Blob is a 20 page illustrated children’s book that explores the topic of bullying. Written by Lori Kefalos, author of several award-nominated animated shorts, This is A. Blob is the first of a series following 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 and encourages readers to consider why bullies behave the way they do – and start to consider what can be done to help.
This is A. Blob Slime is a craft designed to help kids make connections with the story, inspire conversations, and internalize the message of the book. With school just around the corner, this is the perfect craft to begin discussions about the bullying that children will often face as they walk the halls.
We did this craft with 3 different children: One boy, J, age 4, and two girls, S, age 7, and N, age 5.
First, we sat down and read the book together
As we read, we let the children make their own comments, prompting them occasionally with questions such as “How do you think A. Blob is making the children feel?” or “What would you do if you were on the playground?” This started the girls thinking more deeply about the story. After the story was finished, we talked a bit more about bullying and standing up to bullies. It was interesting to see the different personalities of the kids shine through in their reactions—a good reminder that all children view the world differently and as caretakers we must be sensitive to their unique needs as we teach and equip them to face that world.
Both S and N responded right way that A. Blob was a “big meany”. They quickly recognized that this was why it had no friends. S said she would befriend A. Blob because it was lonely and that’s why it was being mean. This is how she would help it to be nice and how she would stop the bullying. N took a more direct approach and stated she would tell A. Blob to “Stop! Just stop being mean!” With the book and conversations fresh in their minds, we moved into the kitchen to begin the craft. They were very excited to make A. Blob!
Step 1: Gather your materials
You will need: 1tsp Borax, ½ C warm water, 1 8oz bottle of glue, 2 nonstick mixing bowls, 2 spoons, food coloring, plastic baggies (This made enough goo for 3 people to have decent sized globs to play with)
Step 2: Mix your ingredients!
-Empty entire bottle of glue into mixing bowl
-Fill empty glue bottle with warm water and pour into bowl with glue; mix
-Add desired color to glue/water mixture
-In the second bowl, mix 1tsp Borax with ½ C warm water
-Slowly add the Borax mixture to the glue mixture. Use hands to finish mixing for best results
As we added our ingredients, we talked about the ingredients that make up a bully. What makes people act mean? I pointed out how, on their own, the ingredients were not sticky, but as they mixed, they created a big gooey blob, like A. Blob. In real life, our harsh words and mean actions mix together and add up to a big, sticky, mean mess that can hurt others badly. This seemed to make sense to them.
Step 3: Play and learn with your slime!
One interesting thing happened that I didn’t expect while we were making the slime and that was role playing. Once the goo was mixed, N picked it up and said “I’m a big mean blob! I’m going to throw punches and be mean!” We didn’t have too much time and the kids were very energetic, but I can see doing this again and having N play out a situation similar to when the girl was mean to her and using the role play to try to understand why she (or the blob) was being mean and what could be done to help the situation.
S made a connection to the book when I didn’t expect it, too. She picked up the goo and let it fall down and said “It has no form or shape”, quoting from the book. This allowed me to mention how liquids will take the shape of whatever container they’re in. Not only is this a scientific principle, it can be connected to the story by saying that maybe if the container is love and friendship, the blob will take on that shape and stop bullying. Isn’t it cool how kids will make their own learning connections that we never even thought of??
Another fun addition N and S thought of was to put faces on the plastic baggies (We put the goo in baggies after we were done playing with it, but if you have a kid who can never keep his craft on the table, putting it in a baggie from the get-go might be helpful!). This way, they could show how the blob was feeling. Neat! You could even have a “before” and “after” blob to show how A. Blob felt and acted before intervention and after.
Always looking for a teaching opportunity, I tried to sneak some science into the craft, too. Because we only had red and blue dye, we were able to reinforce that blue and red make purple. We also talked about how the Borax would react with the glue to make a new substance. We hypothesized about what would happen if we added more water or more Borax. N thought more water would make the mixture “purpler” =)
Overall, all three kids loved doing the craft. It was such a cool way to mix science, literature, and feelings. Reading the story opened up the discussion on bullying and the process of making the craft and playing with the tactile goo was a fun and useful tool to keep that discussion going. We were able to talk about the mean girl, how her actions made N feel, what we can do when we see someone being bullied, different reasons why people bully, and how even mean people (and blobs!) can change. The book and the craft ended up being great, nonthreatening ice breakers for a very difficult topic.
Bonus- the goo wipes off of surfaces very easily
Caution: It will stick to clothes. Make sure the kids are wearing something durable. The glue will wash out, but the food coloring might stain lighter clothing. I would recommend plastic aprons for more energetic children, just to be on the safe side.
As the school year draws near, consider picking up a copy of This is A. Blob and trying the craft out for yourself as a way to prepare your children for the bullying they may confront in class. Get creative and experiment, adding bits to the goo to represent different parts of the bully or writing a storyline for your blob. Share your results with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and let us know in the comments what books or activities you’ve used to introduce and discuss bullying with your kids!
Purchase This is A. Blob from our website or Amazon
While bullying has been an issue for many generations, technological advancements we have today leave people open to threats in the comfort of their own homes. With progress comes challenges and unfortunately cyber-bullying is a byproduct of this. However, this doesn’t mean that other bullying isn’t happening, because it is. Bullying can also happen at school and during extra curricular activities. Bullying can be the cause of depression and suicide, which is why many people are speaking out about it and advocating for a bully-free world. Thanks to HelpGuide.org, we have new insights on ways to cope with and prevent bullying.
Many times children being bullied wonder why they’re the ones being taunted. Victims might feel that something is wrong with them. HelpGuide.org helps us understand what goes on in a bully’s mind and it typically has nothing to do with the people they target. Those who bully can be jealous of the target, act out to become popular, stronger, or more powerful than the target, to escape their own problems, or because they’re being bullied themselves. If possible, instead of becoming more introverted, it can be helpful to look at the issue from a different light. The following are some tips for reframing the bullying situation to help regain a sense of control:
· Try to view bullying from a different perspective. The bully is an unhappy, frustrated person who wants to have control over your feelings so that you feel as badly as they do. Don’t give them the satisfaction.
· Look at the big picture. Bullying can be extremely painful, but try asking yourself how important it will seem to you in the long run. Will it matter in a year? Is it worth getting so upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
· Focus on the positive. Reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. Make a list and refer to it whenever you feel down.
· Find the humor. If you’re relaxed enough to recognize the absurdity of a bullying situation, and to comment on it with humor, you’ll likely no longer be an interesting target for a bully.
· Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control—including the behavior of other people. Rather than allowing interactions to cause undue stress, focus on the things you can control, such as the way you choose to react to bullies.
If you have children, walk through these steps with them and help them to understand how and why to implement each suggestion. Role-play different scenarios where one of you is the bully and one of you is being bullied. How do you feel in each scenario? Why do you think the other person is acting or reacting in that way?
Another great way to help children understand and cope with bullying is through literature. Books open the doors to discussion and allow children to see situations from a new perspective. Here are a couple books that show bullying from the perspective of the victim and the bully. These books encourage children to consider the views of others:
This is A. Blob by L.A Kefalos
This picture book is the first in a series that follows the antics of a playground bully named A. Blob, a sticky blob of purple goo that wreaks havoc at school with its bullying ways. What is great about this book is that the bully is race and gender neutral, so children can project their own experiences into the story. As the story progresses, we learn that A. Blob has pain of its own and perhaps the acts of bullying are a cry for help. The text rhymes and the illustrations are beautiful, making this book a good tool for introducing bullying situations to young children.
The Weird Series by Erin Frankel
This is a series of 3 picture books, each showing the same bullying situation from 3 different perspectives (the bully, the victim, and the bystander). With each character getting her own book, children are able to get a more in-depth view of each situation than they might if everything was put into just one story. The Weird Series is geared for 8-11 year olds. Like This is A. Blob, The Weird Series is perfect for helping children to understand both the causes and effects of bullying.
Bullying is a difficult issue to deal with and understand. It’s complex, sticky, and nuanced. Thankfully it is not unsolvable. By using tools such as those provided by Helpguide.org and authors like L.A. Kefalos and Erin Frankel, we can help children to gain a new perspective on bullying, understand the issue, and begin to end bullying once and for all.
What tools have you used to help children understand the issue of bullying? What helped you to gain a new perspective? Share your experiences in the comments or talk with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest!
Purchase This is A. Blob from our website, or check it out on Amazon!
See the trailer for This is A. Blob
Purchase The Weird Series
About Laughing Leopard Press
Hello! We are Laughing Leopard Press, an independent book publisher from Akron, Ohio. At Laughing Leopard Press, we’re interested in publishing works that contribute to our understanding of this wonderful world. Through this blog, we hope to add to that understanding with commentary on life, literature, and a few things in between. We hope you enjoy the blog and take some time to talk with us in the comments or on our social media sites. Happy reading!
This is A. Blob by L. A Kefalos. $14.95
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