Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Our Journey to Scoopy Doop (yes, "Doop")

NOTE:  As is true in most things in life, the valuable part of this post is not a recipe, but rather the JOURNEY.  If you choose to let your crew lead you on a Scoopy Doop Journey, your experiences and resulting "Scoopy Doop" should end up differently then ours does.  With that said, enjoy reading about OUR JOURNEY:

Our Journey to "Scoopy Doop" began as a simple idea I found on Pinterest:  Frozen Vinegar. 
A perfect activity to give the children in my program an opportunity for delayed gratification.  In our instant satisfaction world (DVR's, cellphones, microwaves, internet, etc.) we need to make sure young children are given opportunities to wait, anticipate and predict.  We need to help them appreciate the rewards of waiting and the skill of patience.
The beginning of our journey: frozen, colored vinegar.  Colored with Liquid Watercolor from Discount School Supply.
The opportunity for waiting came right away, with the freezing of the vinegar.  We colored it, poured it into the ice cube trays and placed it in the freezer.  At first, a request to check it came every few minutes.  Then, once it was realized that this was not something that would occur rapidly, the interest faded and other tasks envoloped their curiosity and time.

By the next day, the frozen vinegar was long forgotten about, but all it took was a simple question to bring their curiosity running.  "Boys and girls...I wonder what happened to the vinegar we put in the freezer yesterday?"

Once I had their naturally curious mind's attention, I posed another question:  "What should we do with our frozen vinegar?"

After some discussion and various ideas, it was decided to put it in the white stuff we always use with vinegar.  The "fun white stuff that makes it fizz" :)

And so, I obliged.  Out came the baking soda (aka: the fun stuff that makes it fizz), and we placed three cubes of frozen vinegar on top.  Let the waiting begin.

After placing the frozen vinegar on the pile of baking soda, the waiting began.  We waited.   And we waited.  Absolutely NOTHING happened.

Out of boredom comes clever ideas. (Along with delayed gratification, young children also need to be BORED, from boredom, GRAND ideas can be born!). 
" about we use a blow dryer to melt the vinegar faster?"
"How about we use warm water to melt the cubes?"
In an attempt to speed up the process, we tried the various ideas that my crew thought of.  First...we tried the blow dryer.  You can imagine how that worked (cough cough).  Then, we tried the warm water. 
It is very empowering for a child to suggest an idea, to try the idea, and then to see the idea succeed!

Instead of the success being the end of this journey, it was just the beginning.  The next clever idea we tried was:
"Lets put ALL the frozen vinegar on there and then bury it with more white stuff...THEN squirt it with warm water!!"

Two moments of success helped to boost the confidence of my littles as more innovative ideas were suggested.  You could just feel the gears turning as one idea after the other were imagined in little brains so full of curiosity.
As more and more water was added, and vinegar poured in, the urge to dig in grew!  Soon, shovels were requested.

Once the mixture became VERY soupy (thanks to the requested addition to pour vinegar on it (ooooh!!), I had my own idea.  "What would happen if I added some cornstarch to try to thicken things up?"
The addition of cornstarch was a game-changer.  The once easy to scoop mixture now became VERY challenging to manipulate with shovels maneuvered by little hands.  The addition of sparkly "sequins and spangles" from Discount School Supply (I suggest the 1lb bag) added to the scenarios that the children were creating as they scooped and manipulated the now sticky and gooey concoction.

Time to cure another curiosity.  This one was my own curiosity.  What would happen if we added some flour?  After the flour was added, a request to make it blue was honored.  Immediately the storyline turned to a recent real-life experience.  The mixture now looked like "the frosting from my dad's Birthday cake".  So the scenario now turned to birthdays and birthday parties.

The next addition of flour made the mixture even more strenuous to maneuver.  These were highly motivated children, and a little challenge was not going to stop them from continuing their play.

Let's recap:  this concoction of vinegar, baking soda, water, cornstarch, flour and more coloring took on the consistency of moldable goop.  It moved very slowly through could form it in your hands, then release it to watch it slowly ooze through your fingers.  It was simply captivating.

I love to see children organize themselves.  These three had been playing with the "Scoopy Doop" (as it was later called) for quite some time.  They had developed many story lines.  They had compared the mixture to life experiences.  They had solved problems, asked for what they needed, experimented with new additions and through it all they maintained a level of cooperation adults sometimes struggle with.

When it was time to put the "Scoopy Doop" away, the children asked if I could save it for the next day.  And so, yet another experiment.  WHAT would happen to the Scoopy Doop overnight?  The results were awesome!  It was a little less gooey, and a lot more moldable.  It still had the properties of our beloved "goop" (aka: ooblik), yet was completely different.

This is the Scoopy Doop after sitting overnight with a plastic cover.  It was more playdough-like yet had the "melting" properties of goop (aka: ooblik).

On the second day, the Scoopy Doop was stampable, moldable, oozeable and all sorts of other "ables" that aren't even in the dictionary!

What was my purpose in dragging you along on this journey?  Did I want you to leave with a recipe for a great sensory activity?  Not at all.  There is much more then a recipe in this post.  My purpose was to show you that:
1)  Feeding curiosity is empowering. 
2)  Feeding curiosity means leaving our adult plans behind in order to follow the whimsical curiosities of a child (which will, more then likely, pull out our own curiosities as well)
3)  What you might invent is unknown...but what the children in your program will learn along the way is priceless and valuable.

Now shoo.  Go make your own "Scoopy Doop"! 
I'd LOVE to hear of your  "Scoopy Doop" journeys...please share in the comments below!