Monday, 9 July 2012

shopping... experimenting... painting

Well, our 'quiet' day today started with me being woken up by Eldest playing electronic battleships in his room... so, not so quiet then...!
The boys had all expressed an interest in making bread again, so we made the dough and then tried to find something to do while we waited for it to prove.  Eldest got onto MathsWhizz on the computer, and the other two decided they wanted to play shops, so we got out the junk modelling box which has lots of empty grocery packaging in it, and my box of small change. 

the 'shop'

We used to have play money when Eldest and Middle were younger, but when Youngest came along with his penchant for putting things in his mouth, the play money (coins at least) was removed.  Still, they had lots of fun with the real coins today (with Mummy watching youngest like a hawk).  We had a break in the middle of the shopping game to finish making the rolls, and then they carried on playing shops until the rolls were baked - so that was well over an hour of playing with money - adding, subtracting, and just getting used to recognising different coins :)  Unfortunately, we were having so much fun that the rolls got a bit over-baked (that's the second time this week!  I really must invest in a kitchen timer).  Still, it was really nice having a tidy house - it gave me more time to just enjoy playing with the boys :)
Once the rolls were (over)done and the money was put away, Youngest and Middle took turns playing and watching each other on Reading Eggs, and Eldest went into a bit of a mope, so on went the TV for Richard Hammond's Blast Lab.  He (Eldest, not Hammond) seemed to be having an 'I'm bored' morning... I'm not thinking he could be being better stimulated at school ... but was wondering if maybe he just needs a bit more structure in his day...?  The truth is though, he's usually very good at finding things to do, I think he's still a bit under-the-weather - he and Youngest still have coughs that I had thought were about gone, but seem to have got worse again since standing out in the rain yesterday to see the olympic torch.  I'm glad Mondays are so laid-back - no pressure to do anything :)
Anyway, after lunch, Eldest decided he wanted to do his own science experiment - so instead of copying one he'd seen in a book or on TV, he used the principles he'd learned so far to create his own:
1/ mix bicarbonate of soda with water in the bottom of a glass
2/ pour some oil into the water - wait a few seconds for them to separate
3/ add some vinegar...
The theory was that the bubbles would fizz up through the oil - and they certainly did!  Initially when he tipped the vinegar in, all we could see was foam, but then as it died away, we could see the smaller bubbles still forming and pushing their way through the remaining layer of oil :)

 you can just see the oil layer under the foam

 the pockets of fizzing bubbles pushing through the oil

It may not seem particularly ground-breaking or exciting (although acid + bicarb is always an impressive reaction to a young boy), but I really enjoyed the fact that Eldest made the progression from watching and copying the experiments of others to extrapolating his own theories from what he had already learned (and they worked too).  I thought that was a significant moment in his scientific journey.  Once his own need to experiment was satisfied, he very quickly found the Blast Lab Science Experiments book that had been casually left out near the sofa, and lost himself in it - maybe even cooking up new theories and plans to try another day :)  Given his droopy morning, I was really pleased by the small but important progress of his afternoon :)
Once that happy moment was done with, it was time to get the paints out, as promised to Youngest yesterday.  Everyone wanted to join in, so we had a chat up front about what we were all going to paint.  I took part too, because I believe that inspiring learning is more about demonstrating enthusiasm than skill (just as well where art and I are concerned) - I painted a picture of a confused badger and fox (confused because they're nocturnal animals, out and about in the daylight)...

Mummy's 'art'

Youngest was definite that he wanted to paint an elephant - and he did.  Sometimes he has a plan up front, sometimes he just likes experimenting - but either way, with him it's a case of getting the timing right so he can decide when his picture is complete.  Realising that he just wanted to carry on painting, but not wanting him to keep going until the 'elephant' picture was just another sheet of paper swimming with paint of a nondescript colour, I showed him another piece of blank paper so he knew he could carry on painting.  That way we got one picture of an elephant as planned, and only one picture of 'grey goo'...


grey goo (complete with squished in kitchen roll, top left)

Middle started off wanting to draw a mountain but got carried away looking at Youngest's elephant, so changed it into a picture of a 'decorated' elephant, surrounded by footprints showing where it had been.  Middle tends to prefer the style of art that evolves as he goes along - he goes on a journey with his creations, starting off with a 'sort of' idea, and seeing how it develops.  He is much more definite about when his piece is complete.  As well as his decorated elephant, he also experimented with our glitter paint, and produced a picture of a glittery 'Noah's ark' (quite difficult to photograph - sorry)

Decorated Elephant

glittery ark

Eldest has another approach - he likes to have a plan up-front of what he's going to do, and usually only makes minor modifications as he goes along, having a clear idea of when he's achieved what he set out to do.  He was really happy that the finished product was pretty much the 'log cabin in the woods' that he had planned (with sunlight peeping through the trees).

log cabin in the woods

So, we all had a happy, messy, fun time.  Because of limited space, I only usually buy paint in the primary colours, plus black and white (the glitter paint was a gift) - so every time we do painting the boys get to experiment with mixing colours to get their required shade.  Admittedly, by the time we'd finished, the rest of the afternoon was spent clearing up, but that's fine - we didn't have anywhere else to be :)
PS I've found an online treasure trove of art lessons for kids from Deep Space Sparkle (can't remember how I found them, so if someone out there passed on the link - thank you!) - I'm really grateful for the website as the boys and I often run short of art ideas (painting, drawing etc, as opposed to craft, or construction-type art).  Now we have more ideas, hopefully the art adventures will be continuing in the near future!


  1. Deep Space Sparkle is a great site! I've found quite a few other arty blogs, have you looked at or ? I just wish J was as interested in doing crafty stuff as I am! But we did manage a little bit of painting today at least :)

    1. oooh, thanks Rachel... *bookmarks lovely new blogs* :)

  2. Don't be concerned about Eldest being blobby, boredom is good for spawning creativity, so don't fear it. Also he is the one with the most de-schooling to do and he is almost about to enter the huge growing, hormone changing age where boys need lots of time and space to be (entering the male garden shed syndrome). Also their brains get pruned and they stop being able to read emotions and facial expressions for a few years, which can either end up in you yelling at them in frustration or calmly backing off and don't expect them to enjoy the little kids activities as much.

    1. I agree - I'm getting better at letting all of them find their own inspiration when they use the 'bored' word. I'm loving the chance to get to know Eldest before he enters the 'teenage' zone - hopefully it'll be a good foundation for all the change that's coming...

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