This is a wet activity so set up in an appropriate place, even outside. If necessary put down newspaper or an old towel. Grab a handful of pegs and rig up a makeshift clothesline, something like a cord strung between kitchen chairs. Preparation is part of any activity so don’t do this by yourself. Always enlist the kids. Same goes for cleaning up. You’ll need a wide bowl half filled with water, a straw for you and each child, and food colouring. One colour will do but you won’t be able to stop at one. And a wad of that recycle paper near the computer.
Squirt a LITTLE dish washing liquid into the water, pop in the straws, and start blowing. Everyone can blow at once, unless it’s a small bowl – if it is, you might want to cut the paper in half. That’s plenty of fun right there, watching the bubbles get bigger and bigger. Maybe I should mention, children who haven’t mastered the blow/suck difference soon will. Now it’s time to drop spots of colour onto the surface of the bubbles using wooden skewers or toothpicks, one for each bottle of food colouring. Don’t worry when droplets break the bubbles. NEVER relinquish control of the food colouring. If you’re possessed of an eyedropper, you might load it up for a child to use, but keep busy, little hands FAR from the bottles. You’ll hate me if you don’t.
Lay a sheet of paper onto the surface, lift, and you have a gorgeous circle print that looks like the sea. This is an opportunity to teach colour mixing. You forget? The primary colours are red, blue and yellow. By mixing them in pairs, you make purple, green and orange. All three take you into the browns. Stick with the circle, or add more drops, moving the paper around to collect all the colour. Kids love pegging the prints up to dry. This develops fine motor skills. And it’s good training for when they’re teenagers. You can use the results to make homemade cards or wrapping paper.
When the paper is dry (and the kids have dismantled the drying line) you can start ‘drawing into‘ the prints. Use a pencil or Biro to pick out the lines, or shade between them, or help the shapes you see emerge from the foam. This is a great time to listen as children tell you, with very little prompting, what their picture is about. It’s a quiet time. It’s a mess-less time. So keep a few prints on hand, for when an interlude of peace and quiet is a matter of life and death at your place.
You will love doing this ‘drawing into‘ with the kids. It’s like doodling, and it’s very addictive. Magic happens! The bubbles tell you what to draw. You stop thinking about what your hand is doing and float into the moment with the kids. You’ll be there for ages just chatting and drawing. There is nothing they love more than being with you. And when they’re in bed, there’s always bubbly of a different, more adult kind.