Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ice Planets - an activity turned snack.

It has been really, really hot here.

The Boy has been wanting to go outside all the time. We had some fun water play in our yard on Friday during a playdate with friends, but it's been so muggy and uncomfortable that I've been avoiding going out. Then, I happened upon a post at Play at Home Mom about making planets out of ice. Given The Boy's current fascination (obsession?) with all things planetary, it seemed like a natural fit. Also, it seemed easy. While I'm generally in awe of the amazing ideas that the Play at Home Moms pull off with their young ones, I'm also overwhelmed by my everyday life about 70% of the time...which means I can't necessarily construct a bubble in my living room in which to do blacklight activities (as completely incredible as that would be!). This one, though, seemed doable, even for me.

We had balloons left over from my birthday this week, so The Boy chose one for each planet, plus a few extras. We filled them with water at the sink. The Boy told me when to stop filling each one so they would be the desired size. We added drops of food coloring (I did this part, though he told me how many drops and which colors to put in each balloon). We put them in the freezer overnight.

(They might have frozen faster if he hadn't checked on them seven or eight times.)

Planets, fresh from the freezer and ready to be released from their balloons.

We took them outside, and I used scissors to cut open the balloons so The Boy could help me peel them off. The whole time we were getting them out, I was cranky and snapping at him when he grabbed at the scissors. My trouble with being a parent with a background in education is that I know what I really should be doing and saying to support his learning in a situation like this. Where was my scaffolding, my open-ended questions? I kept thinking that I was ruining his experience of this perfectly good activity...what good does it do to pull off something cool like this if Mama is going to be all crabby during the execution of it and mess it up for everyone?

In my defense, it was hot. It was late afternoon, just an hour or so before dinner. The babies were fussing. There were hundreds of gnats attacking us on the driveway. And also, he can be kind of irritating. He's 3 1/2.

(Don't worry - I know my limitations, and there are reasons I'm not planning to homeschool him.)

Once the ice spheres were all out of the balloons, The Boy lined them up in order on the driveway. He started with the Sun and went through all eight planets, then added Pluto ("I know it isn't a planet any more, but I still love it, so it gets to line up,") and Ceres ("It's a non-planetary object, which is the same as Pluto, so it gets to be in the line, too").

Can't argue with that logic, I guess.

More or less spherical, kind of to scale...the Sun is the biggest of all and Jupiter is bigger than the other planets. I think Venus and Neptune might be the same size, but that's probably not important...they still looked really cool!

They started melting immediately. It was, as I believe I mentioned, hot.

The Boy moved them all to the top of the driveway and started drawing their orbits with sidewalk chalk.

He stopped to check out his work.

Then, he ate them.

All of them, one at a time, saving the Sun for last.
"I am a black hole! That's why I'm eating planets! Neptune, you're next..."

You can't make this stuff up.

As he sat there, food coloring dripping down his hands and chin, he said, "This is so, so cool. I think we should do this again tomorrow."

And even in my grouchy state, I had to admit it had turned out pretty well.  He had fun, even though I wasn't doing a stellar job of interacting with him. I'd definitely do it again.