Tuesday, January 29, 2013

We Simply Gather Around

Blowing big piles of colorful bubbles is the just the thing for a gray, drizzly mid-winter day.

We do this several times a year at Woodland Park, filling those yellow bowls given to us 11 years ago by a parent cleaning out some basement storage with dish soap, water and liquid watercolor. 

We then use drinking straws to blow up mounds of rainbow bubbles. 

The final step, then, if you so choose, and many don't, is to lay a piece of paper atop them, pressing it down into them, then lifting it up to find a delicate, lacy print. 

We used to only undertake it once a year, but that was before discovering that art can and ought to be made outdoors in all weather. What a horrible thing not to know or all those years. 

We didn't do it very often because it was such a soapy, spill-y, drippy mess that I really hated to leave that indoor clean-up to parent-teachers more than once a year.

But outdoors, there is no clean up to speak of, especially when there is rain to wash everything way: dump the bowls, discard the straws, and that's it.

Of course, there is still the clean-up of children who get confused and inhale a mouthful of the soapy stuff: blue-tongued children who need to go inside to rinse their mouths. Typically, they only forget once.

I still refer to it as an "art" project, but it's an unfair label, especially since moving it outdoors where there are no walls and ceilings and floors to mop, where there are no adults hovering around to wipe up this or tidy up that. 

It is art, of course, but also a scientific exploration, a conversation piece, a step-by-step process, a sensory experience, but I don't need to know any of this and nor do the children. We simply gather around, together, each taking away our own learning, an education tailored perfectly to us.

And just as many children don't stop by the outdoor art table, their learning taking them elsewhere on this day, which is why it's good we now do this several times a year.

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Unknown said...

We love this activity! Yours looks especially colourful! If you have kids who are just too young to be trusted to blow through a straw you can do a similar thing by letting them squish and squash big sponges in the soapy painty mixture. You still end up with lots of colourful bubbles to print from but no-one gets a mouthful!

Ben said...

This is a really cool activity, as a trainee teacher it is definitely something I would consider doing with my class when I graduate. I think the children will really enjoy it too. It would be great if you could hop along to my blog and give me some feedback.

All the best,
Ben :)