Thursday, September 27, 2012

Capillary Action In Action

Since I yesterday shared about a wild, full body, super messy art project, I thought it would be appropriate to follow that up with one that requires concentration and precision.

These are some of those cheap rubber soap holders that have dozens of little suction cups on each side. The idea is to use pipettes to place a single drop of liquid watercolor in each of the little cups, then gently lay a square of paper towel atop it. The paper towel then absorbs the drops, creating a slow motion explosion of color that looks kind of like a scrap from a tie-dyed shirt or like watching a psychedelic flower blooming via time-lapse photography.

Using pipettes in and of itself is a challenge for many young children, one that requires focus. Then to turn around and squeeze out the liquid one drop at a time is a real feat of steadiness and overall fine motor control, especially when you're doing it in the midst of a busy classroom.

Many were thrilled simply with the one-off success of filling each cup with a single color. Ben was so excited by the creation of his all orange "alien" that he carried it around the classroom showing it to his friends and parent-teachers alike, trying it seemed to convey the excitement of having observed the capillary action in action.

Other kids took their time, filling soap-dish circle after soap-dish circle, experimenting with color combinations and patterns, mastering the process of landing drops of paint precisely where they wanted. During a lull in the action, Charlotte made a "double," filling two side-by-side.

As an added bonus, this project is a whiz to clean up because each placement of a paper towel prepares the soap dish for the next artist. And if there are spills or inadvertent squirts across the table, those can become artworks as well as the children just lay paper towels on top of them, soaking up yet another accidental masterpiece.

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Graham said...

Did you do this with the 5s? I'm thinking I'll try it with our 3-4s and wondering how it'll work.

morocco tours said...

nice blog

Emily Plank said...

@Graham: I do a similar project with my multi-age group (birth to five). For the under twos, I use an ice cube tray or a deviled egg holder with turkey basters if they aren't ready for pipettes. The older crew (3+) love exploring with the finer motor skills. Some of the younger 3s end up back with the basters and ice cube trays. I've never used a paper towel to capture the beauty...we've just had fun with color mixing. I love the idea of a paper towel to capture it!! Thanks, Teacher Tom!

Annicles said...

If you use filter paper then it will separate the food dye into the colours that made it. That can be really exciting!