At carnival time in Germany the shops are filled with the brightest of colours, the bakery with brightly decorated doughnuts, the butcher's and grocer's shop with balloons and streamers around the displays of food, most other shops windows incorporating in some way masks and streamers amongst the products for sale.
At the store I wandered through rows and rows of carnival costumes with wigs in every colour of the rainbow, there were fairy wings and magic wands, and pirate’s cutlasses and eye patches. There are always streamers and confetti, hooters and balloons to be found to refill my “tool” box, but my best find and best buy this year were body paints in a new form. They are absolutely perfect for the small, hot, tight grasping fists of the young children who I am working with these days.
The waxy, soft face-paint sticks usually available are so small and thin that they crumble and melt when the children so much as look at them! It is rarely possible for them to paint themselves or each other all by themselves. They usually need lots of help to transform the whole group into animals, clowns, pirates or whatever takes their fancy. There are also body paints available in a palette, like water colours, to use with a paint brush but this process is also a little tricky for many of the children.
I was delighted with this year’s find. Thick chunky body-paint sticks covered with a plastic holder that works a bit like a glue stick. Turning the bottom of the holder forces more colour upwards.
Over the last few days I have had wonderful creations painted on my hands by the children and they have had lots of fun painting themselves and each other. These gorgeous, brightly coloured pens were actually not that cheap but I didn’t have to think twice about buying them. I visualised what we would be using them for, how they woud be facilitating my work, before I had even paid for them. I knew we would be having lots of fun, “bits-in-between times”, with them!
They have been the best facilitation as well as motivation that I could have wished for this week. In many of our activities we have painted our hands, so sometimes birds would fly gently down with food to feed their babies,and sometimes great, mighty dinosaurs would grasp anything and everything with their mouths, and learn to hold things very, very tightly. At other times we have invited animal friends to come to help tie shoe laces, to grasp the knife to cut our food, or to hold the spoon at the correct angle in order to eat soup.
I am beginning to ask myself “What did I do before I had these paint pens?”. They have made work so much easier this week.