Friday, October 19, 2012
Dear Googly Eyes
Dear Googly Eyes,
You are my prized craft material, my inanimate objects personified, and my art projects come-to-life.
Thirty years ago on the other side of the world, we didn't have any Googly Eyes. To make eyes, we either drew dots or sketched ginormous, perfectly-round Japanese anime eyes that sparkled a little too much. Those eyes were two dimensional, lifeless, and about as exciting as eating fat-free cheesecake.
But now, Googly Eyes are abundantly available, in all sizes and colors and styles. Stick a pair of them on anything and it just magically smiles back at you. It'll even stare at you, wide-eyed, as if telling you "thank you" for bringing it to life. Give them a jiggle and watch them wiggle; give them a shake and see them wake.
Googly Eyes have become a staple in my Chinese Toddler Class. We use them to make all of our craft projects--whether they are animals or inanimate objects--come to life. Little ones who are barely verbal know exact what they are and where they belong.
I like teaching my Chinese lessons with a theme that provides a lot of possibilities for new concepts. Animals are a good way to introduce colors, numbers, adjectives, body parts and other useful words in a new language. In addition to reading books, watching related videos, playing games, and singing/dancing, we also make a craft project that serves as a visual aid for children to learn these new concepts and vocabulary.
Usually, I turn to my friend Google (Images) for craft ideas. More recently, I've also explored Pinterest as another source for visual inspiration. I seek out an easy craft where children and their parents only need to assemble the craft by gluing the pre-cut construction paper pieces together. I spend some time cutting the parts that are easily distinguishable and locatable. (It does not take too long to cut out the pieces; I fold a piece of construction paper a few times and I'm cutting multiple pieces out at once.) Here are some examples of our craft work:
Here is a Paper Sack Dog Puppet. Materials needed for this puppet are: brown paper sacks and construction paper for the cutouts. The ears, nose, tongue, and bone are pre-cut. The children and their parents assemble the dog puppet with a glue stick, the pre-cut parts, and the Googly Eyes. This lesson introduced facial features such as eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
This Geometric Elephant is a simple design that consists of a large oval, four rectangles for legs, one tail, one ear, and one trunk cut from construction paper, and one Googly Eye. The children and their parents piece the elephant together and paste it onto a piece of construction paper. A variety of colors can be used instead of the classic elephant gray. This lesson included descriptive vocabulary such as big/small and long/short.
Next, we have a Toilet Paper Roll Duck. First, a piece of yellow construction paper wraps around and covers the toilet paper roll. The rest of the parts are construction paper pre-cut wings, webbed feet, and beak; yellow feathers (taped to the inside of the roll); and a pair of Googly Eyes, all attached with glue sticks and tape. This lesson began the study of colors (yellow) and counting (Five Little Ducks story).
Finally, we have a Paper Plate Turtle. A white paper plate is folded in half and stapled around the edges. The pre-cut construction paper pieces are the head, the tail, two feet, and pieces of scutes for the turtle's shell. And, of course, we cannot forget our one Googly Eye. This lesson included the color green, adjectives such as fast/slow, inside/outside, and the word "home" (turtles' shell).
The kids, and oftentimes parents, too, enjoy making these crafts each and every week. The little ones' eyes light up when they see what they will make, and are always excited to make their own to take home. These crafts take no more than 5 to 10 minutes to assemble, and after children put their names on them, they are proud of their very own final product.
All because those Googly Eyes make them come to life.
Children take their animal crafts home and practice the vocabulary they learned in class with them. They use their crafts as puppets and practice singing songs with many YouTube videos. I always make one extra craft set in case a new student joins our class, and Dear Son jumps at the first chance of making the "craft of the week" when we wait for Dear Daughter during her badminton class after Chinese class.
As eyes are the most obvious focal point on any given object we look at, they invariably provide an unforgettable first impression. The three dimensionality and mobility of these Googly Eyes definitely make them more appealing than a simple black dot. At least in my eyes.
So, Dear Googly Eyes, I will always make sure to have enough of you on hand. One day we might give some personality to a sun or moon, clothe pins or glass jars, or uni-eye monsters! So if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find my next craft project, and you will be sure to have a part in it!