Despite the impending snow storm, we had a great time at Doodlebug Club this week. Using bubble wrap and washable paint, we made bubble wrap fish prints, an idea I got from Tippytoe Crafts. Bubble wrap makes great fish scales – who would’ve thought? And I’m here to tell you that popping bubbles in bubble wrap is just as irresistible to a 4-year-old as it is to grown ups.
Class began with a discussion of where fish live. After some deliberation, we determined that fish live in water, which might be an ocean, a river, a lake, an aquarium, a fish tank, or since I had already cut some out for the fish we were painting, a bowl. We started by painting a place for our fish to swim. Each artist started with a sizeable fishbowl (approximately 20″ wide x 18″ tall) cut from thick-ish white paper. Using a thick kid-sized paintbrush and blue paint, we painted a line near the top of the bowl to signify the top of the water. Some of our fishbowls had been bumped recently, so the water was super turbulent (who likes a flat line, anyway?) Once the water line was established, the bowl needed filling. Each artist really explored how different brush strokes made the paint look different – much more than they ever had before – so that was pretty cool.
Once the fishbowl was full of “water,” they needed to be dried, so we brought out the trusty hair dryers. The kids really have fun drying their paintings this way – we started doing this a few months ago and they seem to sort of look forward to this part. Weird. But there you go.
Next came the fun part – painting the fish. I pre-cut three fish for each artist, one big one and two little ones. We started with the largest fish. I gave each artist a rectangle of bubble wrap (with small bubbles) that covered the whole of the large fish. I showed them how I did mine by painting stripes on the bubble wrap, and one of the kids did that, but the others just did their own thing. After the bubble wrap was covered, they placed their fish on top and gently pressed all fish parts down on the paint, making sure every fin was touching paint. Gently, they lifted the fish off the bubble wrap and flipped it over to see their paint design transferred in bubble shapes onto their fish – looking kinda sorta like scales.
They painted the other two fish the same way. We dried them and then gave them eyeballs so they could see where they were going and wouldn’t bump into each other (or the walls of the bowl), then glued the dried fish prints to the dried bowl. They turned out really well, maybe one of the best projects we’ve done yet (although I’m partial to the torn paper owls…)
This last one was done by the youngest Doodlebug artist – he just turned 2, though he’s been in Doodlebug Club since he was 15 months old. It’s a little young, yes – but his mom is super hands-on with him and he really likes it, so I’m happy to have him as one of my regulars. By the time he’s 4 (still Doodlebug age, mind you) he’ll have been painting for over half his life(!).
To go along with our bubble wrap fish prints, I found a great fish-themed book at the library. We read The Pout-Pout Fish written by Deborah Diesen and illustrated by Dan Hanna. One of the kids was already familiar with it and did a fantastic job of helping me with the sound effects.
It’s a fun little book about a sad-looking blue stripey fish who had a natural frown, so he assumed he was supposed to be glum and pouty and be dreary-weary to everone he met. Various sea creature friends tried enthusiastically to convince him to cheer up, but he kept telling them he was supposed to look that way. He didn’t even use the excuse that he was a realist or that a Texas-sized garbage island is taking over his ocean home or that he was concerned about global warming so much that he couldn’t even swim straight ever since he heard that guy on NPR last week talking about the rising temperatures of the oceans and the threatened extinction of polar bears in their natural habitats…
No, he didn’t make excuses, but he was fantastically melodramatic. Between each encounter with a friendly sea creature, he sank to the bottom of the ocean in a tragically comical blub, bluuuub, bluuuuuub! This was the sound effects part that the Doodlebug that already knew the book quoted for us each time. It was pretty funny – he did the pouty fish face, too. I couldn’t convince him to do the dramatic flopping upside down – everybody has their limit.
After sinking as low as he could go (for the final time), a new glittery purple girl fish friend swam by and, without scolding the pout-pout fish for being pouty like everyone else had done, she smooched him right on his fishy little mouth.
Suddenly, things didn’t look so glum and he thought to himself that he wasn’t a pout-pout fish after all. Turns out, he was a kiss-kiss fish because he liked that smooch so much and he decided to spread cheerfulness instead of gloominess. (Yes, kiss the dwindling populations of polar bears – see how far it gets them – or you, for that matter…)
With the about-face in his personality, little blue fish returned to each friend that had encouraged him to be happy before and proved he was capable of it – spreading those cheeries he had so recently (one page prior) learned about. So he went around smooching everybody.
Weird, huh? Yeah, I thought it was sort of an odd ending, but the kids seemed to like it. Two of them proceeded to go around kissing the other two (and the grown-ups) to spread their cheeries. It was pretty funny – not usually the way things go at Doodlebug Club, but then again, with preschoolers, you never know…
What is Doodlebug Club?
I work at an art and history museum, and one of the best parts of my job is working with kids. I teach a weekly preschool art class called Doodlebug Club, where I get to try out all sorts of ideas that will become some of the fun things that we will do with our Littlest Brooks-Livingston. I’ve never had any real art training, but I think it’s a lot of fun, and to me, it’s very important to make art more approachable than it ever seemed when I was a kid.If you’d like to read about more of the projects we’ve done in Doodlebug Club, click here. Check out my Doodlebug Club Pinterest board here.