This weekend we had a homework task sent from the nursery school that Munchkin boy attends. All it said was that we had to make an elephant called Elmer with our child and then bring it into school. It came with a set of instructions on how to make it and the materials we would need. My saviour of a nanny trawled the shops and bought all the things on the list and even pre-cut the milk carton for me. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy I thought.
I had instructions, I had materials, I had a willing child and a rainy afternoon. What more could you want?
Here’s how it went:
First of all, we got all the stuff together, you can see the excitement!
At this point I realised that some protective clothing might be in order!
Time to mix the paints: black + white = grey
Time to get painting
The finished result: in theory..
We were happy, we had succeeded.
Except for some reason I decided to act on the niggly feeling in the back of my head. I googled Elmer.
And this is what I found about the book Elmer the Elephant:
Elmer is an elephant who has a colourful body, with yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, blue, green, black and white arranged as a patchwork. He has a cheerful and optimistic personality, and he loves practical jokes.
The stories are suitable for early exploration of the themes and issues relating to the concept of diversity, as Elmer discovers that when he tries to change his appearance in order to ‘blend in’ with the other elephants, they no longer recognise him, or accept him as one of their own. This makes Elmer sad, and he experiences how it feels to be treated like an outcast, after being ostracised by his old friends. It’s only when it begins to rain, and the grey paint that Elmer has covered himself with starts to disappear, that Elmer’s ‘true colours’ are revealed, much to the surprise and delight of his friends, who preferred his multicoloured and fun loving persona. Following their happy reunion, the elephants reassure Elmer that they love him because of his differences, and not in spite of them, and they celebrate by painting themselves in multi-coloured paint, in recognition of Elmer’s unique appearance and personality.
WHAT????? We had made a GREY elephant (like all other elephants on the planet!).
Ummmmm. ok……after swearing internally quite massively….we had a bit of a rethink (and a brief moment of irritation that Munchkin hadn’t thought to inform his mother that Elmer was not grey, they’ve been reading this book for a couple of weeks apparently…). I hastily cut up some coloured paper and luckily Munchkin had already requested that we add sparkles to his elephant.
This is what we made:
I kind of thought he resembled an indian elephant and was pretty proud. Even more so because Munchkin genuinely helped me and that I fought my urge to tell him he wasn’t doing it neatly enough (what the hell is wrong with me? I was crap at Art at school, am I overcompensating? Dear god, don’t let me be that mum).
Here is Elmer in the line up of the other Elmers at nursery
This was an interesting learning process for me. I discovered that 1) I need to google before doing, 2) I don’t want to be a competitive mum and I am running the risk, 3) even if I was rubbish at Art at school, Munchkin thinks I am awesome…