Tuesday, October 4, 2011


While I'm at home (not quite as wretchedly ill as I have been over the past four days) and childless, thanks to the wonder of preschool, I thought I'd update some of our happenings lately.

I alternate between thinking that 4 year old girls are the devil incarnate and the most fabulous creatures around. I don't tend to hover in between these extremes. Currently my feelings are on the favorable end of the scale. Sophie is learning huge amounts every day - not necessarily the schooly-type stuff, but the really important, 'this is how the world works' kind of stuff.

The other day, whilst I was busy being wretchedly ill and Steve was on solo Dad duty, Sophie decided she'd like to make a kite. She tied a piece of string to a picture she'd created a few days earlier and took it outside. Of course it failed and she stomped inside in a fit a fury. At this point, an interesting situation developed involving the differences between the female and male mind. Or maybe jut the mind of a teacher and the mind of fixer.

Steve (who admittedly at this point had already suffered several days of essentially parenting two busy preschoolers alone and was somewhat frazzled) said "Of course it won't work. I'll make you a kite later. But not now." Male mind: Solve problem.

Enter ill and woebegone mother / teacher / embracer of learning experiences at the expense of sanity...
"Why didn't it work, Sophie?"
Sophie: "It was all floppy"
"How could we fix that?"
And here was her solution - straws and a tail.

And you can guess what happened. It still didn't work and we had a repeat of the earlier drama. Poor Steve was getting a tad frustrated at the excessive emotion, as afterall, he had offered to fix the problem. What were we messing around with?

Sophie and I had a discussion about what else we could change that would make it work. Her eyes lit up and and she said "THE SHAPE! It has to be a diamond shape!" We were on the way, and through the process of trial and error, she'd come to some important conclusions about the laws of physics and the limits of craft supplies.

At this point, Steve intervened. As a fixer and a perfectionist, he simply couldn't suffer through the process any more, and sat down with the kids and researched some kite making. They ended up sacrificing an old cot sheet, a bamboo stake and a string line and it worked! Unfortunately, we have no pictures of The Great Kite Flying, but apparently it was so impressive that cars slowed on the highway to watch two little poppets flying their piece of homemade wonder, picking dandelions as they went!

The tail, incidentally was made with fan-folded origami paper. It seems by teaching Sophie this trick, I may have sparked a new obsession. Heaven help us all.

Here are some pictures of the process and the finished product, yet to be painted.

All in all, it was a fascinating probe into not only physics, but the differences in thinking between two people essentially working to meet the same goal. One that seeks solely to create a product that works with the minimum of fuss, and one that seeks to learn along the way and maybe not actually end up with anything but a heap of failed experiments and a list of things that didn't work. And a fair guess at why that may have been. Neither is wrong, but spot which one is the teacher ;-)

Another thing we've been doing is planting the seeds for this year's summer vegetables. As an experiment, we did the old 'bean in a jar with paper towels' trick. Though we used loo paper, as we had no paper towels. I intended to take a pic every day, but failed miserably! In any case, the seed germinated OVERNIGHT! I can definitely recommend a heavily used coffee machine as a good spot for speedy seed growing. Gotta be some bonus benefits to our excessive caffeine consumption!

It has been a fascinating thing to watch. Great for explaining the role of roots, stems and leaves, which mean nothing to your average preschooler. Also great for them to be able to see what is going on under the soil in the pots sitting on our windowsill. So far, it has helped repel nosey fingers from investigating... mostly **twitches a little**

Day One:

Day Four:

Day six:

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