Do you think that you can’t do art with very young children? I don’t! I think that you just have to choose an appropriate activity and, if necessary, adapt it yo their age.
But that theory was put to the test when I was asked to make Woofie the dog puppet with a group of 2 to 5 year olds. And to make it worse, we’d have only two hours to do it.
It’s a good thing I like a challenge, because it takes usually a lot more than two hours to make a complete puppet, even with older kids. But what could I do, the person in charge of the camp had seen Wouffie on the front page of the Animaplates web site and she liked him a lot. So do I, by the way, but don’t tell my cats I said that!
The solution to this challenge was simplification. You might say that I made a version “for tiny hands”. Instead of making the body of the puppet out of fabric, we glued a flat wooden stick between the two paper bowls that form the head. I brought paint stirring sticks, like the ones you get when you buy wall paint. (If you ask nicely, your home renovation store will surely let you take a few).
This simplified puppet is actually easier to handle for little kids than a full puppet with a fabric costume. You could even simplify more by using just one bowl for the dog’s face.
I had to restrict the kids to one colour of paint per dog. If you have a little more time, the kids can paint spots in a contrasting colour to make the dog’s coat more interesting.
As you can see on the picture, the kids did not feel limited to white, black, brown or grey for their dog. Many chose bright fantasy colours. And why not? There are plenty of examples of coloured dogs in children’s books as well!
Woofie has a stick in his mouth because in one of the stories I created around this character, he participates in the Olympic Games as a relay runner with a stick.
To get enough sticks, the camp counselors went for a walk in the woods with the children, before my workshop, and each kid picked up a fallen branch. That made their crafts even more personal.