Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Let's Get Messy!

This morning, the weather was indecisive. One second, the clouds began to form an ominous cover over the sun; and the next second, the sun prevailed, and brightened up the whole sky. I decided not to risk it, and skip the pool today. I have been watching a friend's kid this week, so it's been 3 against 1 since Monday (with a sleepover last night). Getting all three girls fed, pottied (or diapered), sunscreened, and suited up for swimming takes nearly 30 minutes from start to finish. I was not about to risk a full-out melt-down from Annabelle over not being able to go swimming because the weather decided to rear its ugly head, and rain on our parade at the last minute.
Instead of swimming, we spent time in the air conditioning, making a huge mess of the dining room. And it was FUN! I recently bought a huge bag of baking soda for $3 at BJ's, so I knew that I had plenty of that on hand. I searched for activities to do with baking soda, and found some very fun ideas. Armed with my supplies, I got to work setting up for Annabelle and her friend, Bella. Set-up was a breeze, and I was ready for them within five minutes.

For each kid you will need:
Jelly roll pan for your work area
Desired amount of baking soda (if I had to guess, I'd say I used about 1/2 cup for each girl)
Plastic utensils
Food coloring (optional, but extra fun)
Dixie cups for each color desired
Pipette, straw, or eye dropper
An art smock (I used my old t-shirts)

I started off by letting the girls explore with the baking soda in the pan. They used a fork to draw patterns and designs, and tried to ball the fine powder up like snow balls. When they started showing signs of losing interest, I introduced the next part of the activity.

I gave them each three Dixie cups with a few drops of food coloring, and filled half-way with vinegar. In hindsight, I used way too much food coloring. Annabelle is currently sporting bright purple hands. Oops! Next, I demonstrated how to use a straw to drip the vinegar over the baking soda.

Then Annabelle got creative. Instead of dripping the vinegar onto the baking soda, she took a fistful of baking soda, and dumped it into a cup of vinegar. She was thrilled with her discovery.
The next hour was spent stirring, pouring, and smearing the mixtures. While the jelly roll pans contained most of the mess, I still had my work cut out for me.
But it was worth it.

I loved allowing Annabelle to be a little scientist, and make her own discoveries and observations. When we do activities like this, I give her ideas and suggestions, but allow her to control the situation. What if I had stopped her from dumping the fistful of baking soda into the vinegar because that's just not what we're doing right now? What if I had decided that food coloring was too messy? What if I had decided the whole activity was too messy? She would have missed out on so much fun and discovery.

Don't be afraid to get messy. Kids are washable. Clothes are replaceable. You only get one chance at today, so make memories of fun and exploration.
Oh, and it never rained.

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