Ripping paper with the flamingo family

The Flamingo Spring Festival Party ( a story to teach children how to rip paper)

One fine spring morning, Mummy Flamingo gathered her two daughters to her side and said,” Look! It’s an invitation to a spring party! ( Have a very pretty envelope and pull out a piece of paper as you start to tell the story! ) We need to make some beautiful clothes to wear. Oh my goodness what shall we wear?”.

(ask children for their ideas about what to wear to a party…. Accept every offer and add some spontaneous reason why they would love to wear that and what game or dance it might be an ideal outfit for ….)

Let’s see what the flamingo family decide to make. But hang on!  there was a problem! Although there was lots of lovely silk and satin fabric to make some feathery clothes out of, something was missing. What would WE  use to cut cloth with ? That’s right, we might use scissors, but they didn’t HAVE any scissors. They had their beaks and their…. What do flamingos have on their feet, do you think?

(Be sure to accept offers of highheel stilettos, and cowboy boots! After all, they don’t talk either!… and simply ask what is underneath the flamingo cowboy boots. What have I got inside my socks? Toes!! Yes, well the flamingos have claws for picking up things and holding onto things. )

And they also had?( gesture with your hand a long sharp beak)….yes , their beaks which could rip and tear and grab and were good for all sorts of things! Any idea of what sort of things a beak could be good for……… scratching? Yes, especially those annoying itches right round by your wings, and eating, yes, and catching fish, yes…….and fighting with your sister? Absolutely, if push came to shove.

( This is basic imaginative problem solving and leaves room for ‘righter’ or ‘wronger’ answers. Which leaves children feeling empowered , as opposed to tested).

So there they were , with big sheets of pink silk, and no scissors and also they had no iron! So it was very important not to scrinkle and scrunkle the cloth because otherwise their party clothes would look very shabby indeed!

“Now”, said Mummy Flamingo, “ do you think you two girls could rip this cloth into nice straight strips for me?” and she left the room to ring up and tell their aunt about the party.

While Mummy was out of the room, her daughters thought they would be helpful . They were very excited about the party and keen to start.They each grabbed a piece of cloth with their claws, and tried to pull the cloth apart. Well! what a mess, Mummy was not pleased when she came back into the room!

( take a single sheet of newspaper, tabloid size, not the bigger one, and hold the paper long ways and pull the ends as you grab and then squeeze it tight in your grip and pull ( like you would  hold a  christmas cracker…………..then show the children what a scrunched up unripped cloth it was. )

Mummy Flamingo showed them very carefully the two ways that you can hold the paper in order to rip it into straight lines. From short side to short side, or from long side to long side.

( model this for the children. You will undoubtedly hold your pinched finger and thumb of each hand right beside the finger and thumb of the other hand. But simply focus on the concept of long and short. Even draw a rectangle on the white board……………?)

And so they learned from their oh so clever mother that cloth likes to rip short side to short side, making nice long strips. Mummy suggested that they work together on one piece this time, using their two beaks. So the girls had a go, but although they tore from short side to short side, and it no longer needed scissors ( which they didn’t have) it came off in such irregularly sized bits. Why couldn’t they do it the way Mummy did it? in nice long strips? They got such odd shapes and all different lengths and sizes. Again, Mummy came back and sighed. “Girls, we don’t have that much cloth. It’s true that our friends, the mice, could help nibble the edges straight and it’s true that Mrs Hippopotamus had offered to sit on the scrumpled pieces for a few hours for us, to flatten them, but we just don’t have that much time. The letter must have gotten lost in the mail, because it has arrived late and the party is tomorrow.

“Now, girls, watch very carefully how I rip the cloth”, and she showed them again. “Now, Esmerelda, take hold of the paper where you want it to rip, grip it firmly  on the edge with your beak. And now, Matilda, you come and stand right beside Esmerelda, but face the other way. Bunch up real close so that your cheeks and your shoulders are touching, and NOW, you walk towards me, dear Esmerelda, and you walk away from me, dear Matilda”. Don’t stop squeezing the paper tight in your beaks and keep going!

(model it with your hands, clearly showing the pinching right at the top of the paper. Squeezing the paper tight,. Get up real close together, and then hold your elbows up so they can really see your finger hold, and slowly rip down the strip. )

“Bravo! Wonderful! Spectacular! “shouted Mummy Flamingo. “Do it again! Do it again!” and they did. They ripped strip after strip after strip. Until they had a whole pile of strips, all about the same width and the same length……….( more maths and geometry)

“And now I shall start sewing!” she announced, gathering up all the strips. But, do you know, within a few moments, she came flapping back in again!

“Children, children!, I need your help. Your aunt was on the phone and everyone in the whole whanau wants to come too and we need many many many more strips of cloth. There simply isn’t enough time.

And her daughters said, “Let’s ask these children sitting so politely here on the mat. They have been watching and listening. I am sure they could help. Could you help? Do you know how to do it too?”

If any children say ‘yes’ ( and I think they will) then the daughters can say’” See, our troubles are solved. Here you children. Take a piece of cloth, and remember

1. Short side to short side.

2. Hold your finger beaks right beside each other on the very edge

3. Make your fingers walk: one towards your face and one away from your face!!

You will have a bit of a mess but they children have an opportunity to begin learning how to rip…. And in a way in which is sort of fun, sort of memorable, and sort of without pressure to get it ‘right’ hopefully.

The end.