Remember how much more fun dinnertime was when mom let you use a drinking straw in your milk? I’m old enough that I was present at the advent of the articulated straw, which made it even more fun. And then later my brother and I got Silly Straws (probably by Ronco) which were clear and allowed you to actually see your beverage ascending a coiled tube. Big fun. If we didn’t have company we were allowed to put our fingers over the tops of our straws and experiment with air pressure.
But one thing we were never allowed to do was use our straws for their single most fun purpose: inserting them in the milk and blowing.
Last week our 3-5’s class got to blow bubbles to our hearts content, creating mounds of froth with no one telling us when to stop. Purely as a side benefit a few of us made some beautiful art to take home for the walls.
As with our recent experiments in encaustic monoprints the point here was the process and I’m sure we left many masterpieces behind as we pursued our scientific aims.
The process is fairly simple. We put out six cafeteria trays (to capture the overflow) and on each tray a small bowl that contained water, a couple squirts of dish soap, and a healthy splash of liquid watercolor; a primary or secondary color for each bowl. As a child took up her position at the table she was handed a clean straw and encouraged to “blow.” Within seconds she had a mound of bubbles that more often than not spread across her tray. If she was so inclined, she was then offered a piece of paper to place atop the bubbles to make a print.
Needless to say, once the kids got wind of what was going on at the art table, it became a mad house as Jaimee (our art parent for the day) scrambled to provide adequate straws, paper, and instruction. I pitched in, but it was pretty much a bubbly free-for-all during the first 15-20 minutes of class, which is to be expected. As the morning progressed, and the children dispersed to other parts of the room, they left behind the space and time for deeper exploration.
Some of the kids focused on a single color, repeatedly blowing bubbles, then re-using the same piece of paper to collect more and more bubble prints, while others carried the same piece of paper around the table collecting prints from each of the bowls, creating, as Josephine put it, “rainbow bubbles.” Some, both intentionally and inadvertently, included some of the pooled soap solution from their trays in their prints.
Charlie L., one of our youngest classmates, learned the important lesson that soapy, painty water is not tasty. He wore a ring of purple paint around his mouth for several minutes as he made a silly show of saying, “Bleh! Bleh! Bleh!” A couple years ago I tried this project in our Pre-3 class and this result was more the norm than the exception. And believe me, most of them did not take it as good naturedly as Charlie! There must be some developmental milestone that most kids reach between 2-3 where they figure out blowing. They are, of course, born knowing how to suck. (I later took Charlie to our sensory table where we were stirring up frothy water using egg-beaters and wire whisks. I demonstrated blowing the suds from the palm of my hand. He really wanted to do it, but couldn’t manage even the faintest breeze, which was true of most of the 2-year-olds when I tried it the day before . . . Scientists! Get on this!)
Anyway, here are some of our results: