I am so excited to share what Squishy and I have been up to this week! I was getting rid of some cut flowers. They had seen better days and the petals were starting to litter the table. I always hate that part. It seems so wrong to just toss them away after they had given us the gift of their beauty. On a complete whim, I asked Squish if he wanted to “do science” and make paint with the flowers. “THAT WOULD BE SO AWESOME!” was my answer, so I figured it must have been a good idea. It also turned into quite the rabbit hole, as all good science projects do.
I got rid of all the stems and I asked Squishy to separate the petals into bags by their color. I encouraged him to mash em up real good to release the color from the plants cells (and work on his fine motor skills *wink-wink). After the bags were all sorted Squishy had the idea to pound them with his toy hammer to further smoosh them. Actually he wanted to use his real hammer and I had to suggest an alternative.
If I hadn’t just thrown this project together I might have written out which flowers went into each mixture. You know, to make it more “scientific”. For this run we decided to just focus on the colors, though. I halfway filled the small mason jars with a vinegar and water solution, then had Squish add the petals and swish them around.
We thought that another good experiment would be to have different levels of water in the jars, or to have some with different amounts of vinegar. That was really the best part of this project. With every step we were talking about the different variables that would contribute to our outcome. Squishy was able to come up with his own hypothesis and eagerly wait to see if he got answers or more questions.
We left the jars to sit overnight, to let the colors steep into the vinegar/water mixture. That night we read what I think might be my favorite book about a kid scientist, “Ada Twist Scientists”. Maybe I love it so because I can relate to her exasperated parents.
When we woke up the next day Squishy was bouncing down the hall to see how his paints had developed. The colors were still pretty light, so squishy decided that we should heat the mixture and I suggested we also let them set another day. It made a huge difference in the color saturation of the paint, but it was extremely hard for my four-year old to wait a whole day more. I think I was asked if he could paint with it 2300 times during the day.
The colors were still pretty light, but they did make beautiful colors. We actually got to just paint with them for a whole 5 minutes. *Ahh and what blissful 5 minutes.* When Squishy realized that all the good color was in the slurry, the messy play began. I was actually surprised it took him as long as it did to really get hands on.
He had so much fun squishing and mooshing the petals. He was getting much more vibrant colors that I was, too. It wasn’t much longer before the color mixing started. After that it kind of spiraled out of control and we were making “potions” instead of painting.
I was a little sad when the painting project was completely abandoned, but such is life in Squishy’s world. Sometimes I think his mind is running 15 steps ahead of me. Since this was such a spur of the moment project, I didn’t have that much of my own expectations wrapped up in it. So I just sat back and enjoyed his enthusiasm. That is until colored water started to cover my kitchen. At that point I suggested that this might have turned into an outside project.
He spent hours out on the porch mixing and pouring. He also found more flowers to add to his mixtures. I believe some baking soda made it in there somewhere, but it’s all a blur. This bit of extra time gave me the chance clean up the kitchen. On Thursday we have Poetry Tea Time, and I like to create as calm an atmosphere as is possible in our chaos that’s life.
As Squishy played the mad scientist on the porch I had another lightbulb moment. I could let him forage for some edibles in the yard to make our Tea. I mean, what is tea but a wonderful elixir. We don’t have a huge verity at the moment, and I was actually surprised at how many plants Squishy identified as possibilities.
We ended up deciding on roses, lemon grass, lemons, and mint. He also had some dandelions, but ended up stuffing them in his mouth before they made it to the tea. Sitting around our kitchen table, with a cup full of deliciousness, reading poetry with my favorite guy, was the perfect way to wrap up our little week of experiments. Or so I thought…
I looked over to the counter and saw our drying prints. What a wonderful surprise. The original colors had changed completely. Almost like one of those novelty mood rings. Some of the paper became a vibrant purple, and the red “paint” had turned into a dark green. More observations. More questions. More wonder.