Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Giant Ball of String - Arthur Geisert

Art/Handwork today focused on marbles. And although this story isn't really about marbles, it does have the idea of rolling every which way in it. So... we started with reading The Giant Ball of String by Arthur Geisert. This book is out of print but oh-so-clever and fun! The illustrations and the plot are both fabulous. Especially if your child has a mechanical mind!

We followed this with an Art project, a Nature walk, some snack time and bunny play time, and a Building project.

First, Marble Painting. We have great vintage ice cube trays that we use as paint palettes. We got out washable tempera in six colors, so I calculated six spaces for the original colors and then six spaces alotted for color mixing. She did color mixing in all 12 spaces... which was cool too.

Write the name and date on the back of your watercolor paper, then flip it over so you can do art on the clean side. Cheap watercolor paper is great for this. It's sturdy! DON'T blow through your stash of expensive Arches watercolor paper. Seriously. It's just paint and marbles, people!

Drop your marbles in the paint then pick them up and put them on your paper which is in the lid of a shoebox, or on some kind of rimmed tray. Tilt the box lid or tray and watch the marbles roll all around. So simple. So fun! Everyone wanted to do this project, up to -- and including -- my 14 year old. Keep a bunch of baby wipes handy and a small trashcan.

After awhile my student wanted to join the walking-the-baby-around-the-block-in-the-stroller activity and so we did that. Then she came up with the idea of collecting acorns and dropping them in paint to see if they rolled like the marbles do. (They don't. But it was worth trying.)

Snack time, petting the rabbit, walking the rabbit on his harness/leash around the yard.

Then we built a Modular Marble Maze. This was inspired by something I saw on Pinterest (below).

We used the box our diaper wipes refill packs came in. These boxes have little cutouts on the side to be carry handles. I set one on its side so the handles/holes were now on the top and the bottom instead of the sides. We cut off all of the flaps, we taped over the hole in the bottom, and we dropped a marble in the hole in the top. Naturally it fell straight down with a plunk!

So we began to cut and tape in place some cardboard pieces (starting with the flaps I had cut off, but I also helpfully had bought some new cloth diapers and one arrived today so we had that cardboard from Amazon) and toilet paper and paper towel tubes. After each addition we dropped a marble in the top and checked to see how its path was coming along. When we had a design she liked, we painted the entire inside and outside with our leftover marble maze paint. Why let all that good mixed paint go to waste?

Then I had my most genius idea of all time. Or, at least of Sunday, Nov. 30th. We buy refill boxes of wipes constantly. And each of these boxes is, naturally, the exact same size. Meaning that the handles/holes will always line up. So, in other words, each time I use up one of these boxes of refills, we can make another marble run inside it and then stack all of the modular components on one another in any order and drop a marble in the top and watch it take the entire path down, dropping from the end hole in one box directly into the start hole in the box below. I love the idea of making a marble run which is several stories high, yet can be disassembled and reassembled with ease. Won't this be fabulous!!!

And thanks to that art/handwork family... who brought me five beautiful white roses, a huge pile of burr oak acorn caps, and a little yellow button to add to my button collection. :-)

By the way, The Giant Ball of String lends itself to all kinds of follow up work, from collecting pieces of string to make a giant ball, to lighting paper on fire with a magnifying glass, to building a dam, water wheel, sluice, or windmill!

set of three magnifying glasses for the classroom


Unknown said...

Dear Renee,

Thank you for this post on this lovely book "the giant ball of string". I am very keen to use this book for my daughter as she loves anything mechanical. I would love to hear if you have specific plans for making a dam, sluice and other wonderful topics you mention, or would you use pinterest for ideas?

Many thanks,

Renee said...

Hi Sheetal! I would recommend Earth Water Fire & Air: Playful Explorations in the Four Elements by Walter Kraul. For most families these projects are too complex and it's one of the Waldorf books people complain about as being not practical for home use. But it sounds like this would be a perfect fit for your family!!!