Experimentation

As a former teacher, I am all about experimenting to learn about the world around you. The first lesson plan of many units usually begin with “Explore.” For example, when I taught a science unit on balance I would give my students a fulcrum, a balance beam, two buckets and a bunch of stuff to put in the buckets. I facilitated their discovery process–“What happens when…” or “What if…” and so on.

As a mother, to my dismay, I discourage experimentation. I overheard Lily telling Emmy, “Let’s play Humpty Dumpty on the back of the couch!” The living room echoed with a resounding “NO!” as I ran in from the kitchen. As a mother, I am full of contradictions.

“Yes, you may dunk your Oreo into your milk.” “No, you cannot see if your broccoli tastes better dunked in your milk!”

As I experiment with giving Emmy a glass of milk instead of a sippy cup, she experiments with immersing her whole hand into the milk. She learns about displacement of liquid; I learn patience as I wipe up the spilled milk.

This weekend, Ed was using styrofoam to insulate the hatch to our attic. This small square of plywood measures only about three feet by three feet, and only large sheets of styrofoam were available at the hardware store. As Ed cut squares to glue onto the hatch, he had big pieces of leftover styrofoam which he gave to Lily and Emmy to play with. The teacher in me was pleased as they got out their play tools from Lily’s Handy Manny workshop and started to experiment with the styrofoam. This kept them occupied for quite a while. They were instructed to stay on the blue rug in the foyer.

I was cleaning up the kitchen (not facilitating the experiment as a good teacher should) and all was well until Ed took the now insulated hatch up to the attic entrance in our linen closet. He was busy refilling the closet, when some little voices in the foyer began getting louder and louder.

Read: Lack of supervision = chaos

The styrofoam had exploded into a white snowstorm on the blue rug and manic giggles were exploding from our four-year-old. Mommy me kicked in and yelled, “STOP!” The styrofoam experiment was over. I vacuumed the rug AND the girls. They had had a blast, and I had had enough.

Even though I haven’t been in the classroom for five years, it’s nice to know a small part of the teacher is still lurking somewhere inside of me. Personally, I think she’s way more fun than the mother side of me.

Lily seems to disagree, however. As we were snuggling at bedtime, she said, “If you weren’t my mommy, I’d have the wrong mommy.”

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5 Responses to Experimentation

  1. I have a hard time with this one too. My instincts are to shut any fun down if it's going to cause more work for me but I've been slowly letting the teachable/fun moments in. We have a pretty good balance so far, at least I think so.This is the first time I've noticed your new header shot. I LOVE it!Recent blog:=- Club Half As Small As You: Month 13

  2. How funny! There is something to be said for experimenting. When the kids are a little older, just make sure they understand they have to pick up after their experiments. My mom gave me a lot of leeway as long as what ever I got into was cleaned up/reassembled before my dad got home. I really think it contributed to my confidence in working with my hands Recent blog:=- Monday Music, Maps, Muses & A New Etsy traveling journal

  3. Experimentation is so much easier on moms when it's confined to a school setting where somewhere else can clean it up. 😉 We've had similar results with styrofoam, it is NEVER pretty. That stuff should be banned along with Play-doh and cups without lids. At least the kids appreciate the mommy in you. 🙂

  4. Comments are working just fine!!!EdBTW, what should we do with the rest of the styrofoam? Perhaps we could use it for a craft-oriented birthday party??? 😎

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