Mar 28, 2007

Springtime Art/Practical Life Ideas ...

... and a bit of Mexican tradition for you, as well!Did you know that every Easter, in small towns in the south of Mexico , they have a confetti egg fight? My grandfather's family is from the south of Mexico, and it is an Easter tradition we have kept alive in my (now American) family for several generations. Here's a photo of my husband about to get bopped on the head by my uncle - this was way back in college (thus the scanned photo.) Thankfully, he still wanted to marry into my family after this experience!

In his hand, my uncle carries a colorful arsenal ... an eggshell, yolk emptied by making a smallish hole on the skinny side of the ovoid, filled with confetti. Tissue paper and glue cover the hole and keep the confetti inside until it is smashed over someone's head.

The egg fight is so much better than your typical "gringo" Easter egg hunt. Adults hide dozens and dozens of these eggshells, or cascarones, and each child receives a paper bag for gathering as many eggs as they can find before the fight begins. (I use the word "child" liberally here ... my brother is 40, my father 65, and they are more into this than any 7 year-old.) Here's my dad and brother in a typical Easter scene: (click to see a larger version)

Where I am in the north of Mexico cascarones are not part of the Easter celebration. Although we are not going to have a real fight in the classroom, I did put a few materials on the shelf that pertain to the preparation of the cascarones.

Here is my most "active" child totally engrossed in his work washing and drying the eggshells in preparation for decoration. Here he is again, filling, topping, and decorating his eggshell. He ended up making a cat, with ears, tail, whiskers, four paws and all. Too bad I didn't get a picture of the finished product. Perhaps I'll post it tomorrow.
Here is the practical life material you will need for washing eggshells:
We asked the parents to save their eggshells ( not cracked in half, but with a hole in one end.)
small jar
a small dish (a spice grinder worked here)
a ramekin in which you can submerge an eggshell in water.
somewhere to put the washed eggs as they dry (you could use a half-dozen egg carton with the top cut off.)
a small bucket to empty the dirty water
organic soap shavings (We also have material on the practical life shelf for grating soap, which is generally used for washing veggies ... this is the same soap that can be available at the Table of Provisions.
small towel for drying eggs
mat or underlay

Put one small spoonful of soap into dish. Fill jar with water and add a small amount of water to the soap dish. Fill the ramekin 3/4 full. Get an eggshell from the basket on the shelf. Show child how to carefully insert a finger in the eggshell, dip toothbrush in soap dish, and wash egg in tiny, circular motions. Once you have scrubbed the entire egg, carefully submerge it in the ramekin. Move around slightly to remove soap, take out of ramekin and let drip until the last drop falls (like pouring water,) and place in the egg carton/holder. Show the child how to clean up. Tell him that when he has filled up the carton, you will show him how to dry off the eggs and place them, one by one, in the basket on the art shelf.

Here's the art shelf. The entire top row is dedicated to egg decorating at this moment. From left to right: cutting confetti, washed eggs, tissue paper for the egg tops, glue, sponge applicator (or paint brush) and small glue dish (you can't use paste for this ... you'll have to make do with white glue,) markers, compartmentalized tray with sequins, packing popcorn cut in half, tissue paper balls, yarn pieces, etc., tray with small pieces of construction paper and a pair of scissors.

This presentation involves cutting confetti (if a small child hasn't chosen this work yet today,) filling the egg half full with confetti, placing glue around the hole, and topping it with a piece of tissue paper. The rest is your creative license - I like to make little animals when I present to an older child, and simple shapes and decoration when presenting to a younger child. I don't present the construction paper and scissors tray to the younger ones - this is for making ears, etc. To make animal ears, cut out the shape and fold 1/4 inch at the bottom of the ear. On this fold you can place the glue and stick it on the egg. The ears stick out and look really cute. I'll post some finished product photos tomorrow to give you some ideas!

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