Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Six Ways to Cause the Fizz

Hands down, two of our favorite supplies when it comes to messy play that is full of empowering, reaction-causing ownership is none other then baking soda and vinegar.

Baking soda and vinegar is also a GREAT starting place for those of you that may be a bit skittish about messy play (read below for some "embracing messy play" tips I have learned through the years)

Children have a deep rooted desire to cause a reaction, to appease that desire, I have discovered MANY different ways to play with the never-ceasing-to-amaze combination of baking soda and vinegar.  Sit back, and enjoy the variations.

In order to give the full benefits of all the learning to young children, I encourage you to resist the urge to give direction, I encourage you to NOT show, I encourage you to set up whichever variation you are most excited about, then step back, and hand the control and the ownership over to your littles.

1)  The Original:  Rainbow Volcano
  • colored vinegar in cups or bowls (I color mine with Liquid Watercolor from Discount School Supply)
  • pipettes (I get mine from Steve Spangler Science)
  • a container with a mountain of baking soda dumped in it  
The pictures from "The Original:  Rainbow Volcano" are from about 4 years ago, back when I was just first "embracing messy" (yes, that's right, I have not ALWAYS embraced messy). 

Here are a few tips I have discovered through trial and error on my journey to fully embracing messy play (as fully as I am capable of embracing it, anyway!)

Embracing Messy Play Tips from Someone Who Use to Break Out in Hives Around Messy Play
(long title, I know... I tried to make it shorter, I did, honest, but American Idol was starting and this was the final piece I needed to add to this blog post, so I didn't have much time to tinker. )
  1. Be organized.  Organize your stuff so you can quickly find tools that the children may request.  Organize the space so the children can successfully control the play without causing you stress from the mess.
  2. Along with being organized, have a hand washing system directly next to the messy play.  Not only is this for your sanity, but it also opens the door for that sensory-shy child who NEEDS the security of knowing that the absolute SECOND they need the ick off their hands, they can accomplish that on their own, and then hop right back into the play.
  3. Have spoons and scoops available for the children that want to dig in and play, but do not care to get their hands completely covered.
  4. Be smart.  If your early childhood space is also your living space, don’t set up messy play on your carpet….set up for success!
  5. REEEEEEELAX and document all the learning!

When this table of children asked if they could touch the baking soda, the "old" me would have said "no, this isn't for touching"...however, the "new" me was "embracing" messy and the wonderful learning opportunities it is full of, so my answer was a YES!!

Had my answer been a "NO" ... the children would have missed the wonderful sensation of the fizzing on their hands!

This table realized that the other table was getting to dive in with their hands....and so they asked if they too could stick their hands in as well.  Having just discovered this new wonderful world of saying "YES" to messy, I said "YES!  Of course!"  (this was before I saw what theirs looked like!!!  HA!!!)  This was a huge "aha" moment for me, as these boys had a BLAST playing in their "swamp".   I would have SO said "NO" before!!

2)  The Original S-L-O-W-E-D Down
  • The exact same as The Original, but with a bit of Dawn dishsoap added to the colored the reaction SLOW....and GROW!!

3)  Fizzing UP!
  • This is very similar to "The Original", with the only change being the use of clear straws instead of pipettes to gather the vinegar with.  This not only allows your littles to organize their muscles in an entirely different way -- but it holds a big surprise that is SO WORTH WAITING for!!!  
  • VERY important that you NOT show!!  Be patient and let your littles own the discovery of the exciting thing that is possible with these materials!!!  
  • What is so exciting?  If you STICK the straw full of vinegar INTO the mound of baking soda and LEAVE it there -- the reaction will climb right up the straw and out the top!
There isn't a TON of delay of gratification, but there is some as the children watch the reaction climb up the straw.  We live in such an instant, now! now! now!'s VITAL to put some delay of gratification into a young child's environment every single day.
I think this picture speaks for itself!

The cups of colored vinegar must be filled as full as possible for the best results (otherwise the straws cannot collect enough vinegar to spark a reaction)


This is what happens when the play continues, the colored vinegar is gone and ice cream scoops have been requested to replace the straws!

4)  The Shake and Spray
  • Put the baking soda in salt shakers
  • Put the colored vinegar in spray bottles

If you cherish your grass, or do not have a dog to blame the large patch of dead grass in the middle of the yard on (I have NO idea who would ever blame something on the innocent dog.... (guilty)) you will want to set up VERY clear boundaries for this version of baking soda and vinegar play!

Our boundaries are simple: You may shake and spray on the driveway, not on the grass.  The vinegar will kill our grass. (I always find it beneficial to tell my littles the WHY behind the boundaries.  I want them to know I'm not just making boundaries because I want to squash their fun, I make the boundaries for a reason.)

At first this was an individual activity.  With some of my littles shaking AND spraying.

This is a motivating way to work on those all-important squeezer muscles!

THEN, suddenly, this individual activity became a team one, as my crew discovered the fun of mixing the colors!

As always happens when children are in control of their thing leads to another.  Jack was the first to enjoy the feeling of the fizz on his feet!!

Teamwork at it's finest!!

Feet need sensory experiences too!!

5)  Fizzing Trails
  • Fill a container with plain vinegar roughly 1" deep (we aren't launching rockets, so you do NOT need to be precise)
  • Make a watery paint with water, liquid watercolor and baking soda
  • Add paint brushes and observe!
  • NOTE:  this "paint" needs to be mixed often as the baking soda will settle... I usually add roughly 3/4 cup of baking soda 

6)  Growing Fizz
  • Fill a container about 1/2 inch deep with vinegar.  Add coloring and some Dawn dish soap (can use any dish soap I am sure, I just always use Dawn)
  • Put baking soda in salt shakers
  • Add some paintbrushes and step back and observe the exploration!

And there you have it.....baking soda and vinegar, six ways.

Now....go PLAY!!!