We haven’t discussed it, mind you; she simply uses it. Her question is always the same: “Can we do X craft?” I always answer yes, and ask her how she wants to do it. She looks around and does her research and comes up with a theory to test. This morning, it was making homemade Zoobles; just an hour ago, it was making dinosaurs.
She would have to do an experiment, of course, to see if these results worked. For the Zoobles, she wanted to wrap up Playdough in tissue paper, then insert it into a balloon. She quickly discovered that the tissue paper didn’t work and subtracted that variable, and her small craft ended up looking quite like a Zooble (though, of course, it wasn’t magnetic and it didn’t pop open!).
She decided to make her dinosaurs this afternoon out of Pistachio shells she’d discarded from her snack. She tried gluing on eyes (lentils) with a glue stick, which did not work quite so well; then she chose wet glue instead. (Next, she wants to bury them in the rest of the lentils and pretend she’s digging for fossils.) And now, she is mixing glitter glue on my desk, attempting to make it change colors. Will it work? I don’t know, but we are going to find out!
I could easily have told her the tissue paper and glue stick would not work. That was obvious for an adult. But letting her discover these things on her own, to draw meaningful conclusions through her crafts and other projects that she will remember and build upon, is one of the greatest gifts I can give her as a mother.
Believe me, she used to get frustrated; she still does sometimes. So if you start to do this with your own children, don’t be surprised if they protest or get mad when something doesn’t work. Just give them the freedom to experiment—the freedom to fail! Tell them it’s okay and they can try something else. If they ask for help, ask them questions back—“What do you think you should use?” My daughter’s favorite question is “How do you want to do this?” It gives her the power over her own project and lets her know that I truly want her opinion.
It’s amazing what children learn through simple play; I have to wonder if this is how all of our well-known inventors started before they finally came up with electricity or the iPod.