Little faces

What: Little changeable faces made from cardboard rolls, for storytelling and talking about feelings.

How: I took a couple of toilet roll centres and cut a face-shaped hole in each. I cut the other end a little, folded and spread the cut bits out onto a circle of cardboard cut from a used postpak and glued it down. When the glue was dry, I painted them with bright colours and patterns. Then I took the cardboard centre from a roll of alfoil or plastic cling wrap, which was narrow enough to go neatly inside the toilet roll centre, and cut it to length to fit inside the toilet roll. I drew faces around it with different expressions – cross, angry, happy, silly, sad, surprised – three faces to a roll. Then when it was all dry I assembled them.

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“He’s a silly nutmeg!” Dotty winked. That made Wiggles laugh! But Bluey didn’t like being called a silly nutmeg. He got cross.

Kid 2 loved them. The way I used them at that stage was to have little conversations between the people, where I modelled saying things that made people feel happy, sad, cross, whatever, or that were said with that kind of emotion, and turned the faces to match. This sometimes took a bit of quick thinking! I had lots of requests to “tell a story with the faces” to the point where I ended up hiding them away for a while. I’d often be asked to repeat the exact same story, and I couldn’t remember what I’d said the first time! That child is big on conversation and oral language, so the Little Faces were popular for a good year or so. I haven’t really had them out since , they got packed up for moving cross-country and have mostly stayed buried. So I don’t know how well they would have gone with the less conversational child, or at later ages. I may have to find them, put them out on a shelf and see if the kids will model their own conversations or if they can recognise the emotions drawn.

Extras: Kid 2 really wanted to make their own set of these, but it didn’t happen. It’d be a good craft project on the holidays now that the kids are a little older and I’m more patient with their attempts at gluing. As to using the set, getting the kids to tell their own stories – or to retell things that happened – would be interesting to try. I also see a good role for these in talking about how saying different things can change the face (feelings) of other people, now that Kid 6 is beginning to negotiate schoolyard politics rather than just blundering into them by accident and Kid 4 is having to deal with the politics despite being mostly oblivious.

Review – Too Much Rubbish

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“Too Much Rubbish, written and illustrated by Fulvio Testa.

About: Tony and Bill take the rubbish out. Then they walk through the town, looking at the rubbish they find until they get to where all the bags of rubbish go. The pictures tell extra stories, of where rubbish comes from and all the crazy things we throw away. There’s no particular adventure – the main plot device is to gradually build up a sense of how much rubbish it all totals until you see it all at once. It finishes a little moralistically, with the two boys deciding that it’s up to them to do something about it – but that’s not a bad lesson, it’s just not a very exciting one. The book is published by North-South Books, who do a lot of gentler stories and whose books I seem to keep acquiring by accident.

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“People throw stuff out of their windows”, said Tony.

Good things:

  • Text and images separate for easy reading
  • Limited text good for reading practice
  • Complementary colours in watercolour give the pages a sense of vividness despite the thin colours and sunsetish orange-and-blue-based palette.
  • Several little jokes and bits of silly in the details of the pictures, including sequences from picture to picture
  • Environmental message that is relatively uncluttered (ahem)
  • Call to take action
  • Belief that we hold the power to change in our own hands