Preschool Years at Home

Laughing, Loving, and Learning Together

The Mess, er Magic, of Discovery

on July 30, 2012

Our solar system study complete, I pulled all the asteroids, meteorites, planets, astronauts, and satellites out of our sensory bin and set the tub of water beads and crystals in the kitchen to dry. The kitchen is the one room of our apartment that is gated and, therefore, beyond the reach of little hands.

… except, of course, if Mommy forgets to shut the gate.

If Mommy forgets to shut the gate, she can rest assured that Baby Bear will discover that oversight. And if there’s anything messy or with the slightest potential to become messy, Baby Bear will avail herself of the opportunity while exploring virgin territory.

“1000 water beads on the floor …”

In case anyone wonders, a gallon of water beads doesn’t seem like a lot when the aforementioned beads are all confined to the bottom of a plastic tub. In the hands of a toddler, however, they multiply like the biblical loaves and fishes.

I discovered my oversight in short order. (More than 30 seconds of silence sets off Mama Bear’s internal alarm system.) But Baby Bear was having such a good time that I decided to let her keep playing. It had been a long day, and she was happily occupied — not screaming, clinging, or trying to destroy the Duplo barn her older sister was in the process of building. After all, I reasoned, how much of a mess could water beads possibly make?

Ten minutes of play and 20 minutes of clean-up later I had the answer to that question. For the record, water beads and linoleum are not a great combination. They’re like marbles — wet, tiny marbles that shoot out of one’s fingers and dissolve into dozens of tiny, sticky pieces when accidentally stepped on.

On the up side, Baby Bear got a great hands-on physics lesson as she experimented with matter in motion.

Nobody ever said exploration and discovery were neat, tidy processes!

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