With so much blooming and bursting in spring and summer, it's the perfect time for kids to make petal potions. That said, potions can be made nearly all year, taking advantage of the unique things nature pops, drops and sprouts in any season. It turns out, potion-making is a perfectly engaging pursuit for kids. What can kids put in a potion? A splash of water, then anything else they want. To make a potion, kids search, collect, combine, mash, stir, shake, and repeat. They stop to look and sniff the potion as it transforms in color, form and scent. They try a little of this, then a little of that, changing course as they get real-time feedback. It’s tinkering at its best. So, just grab a glass jar for each kid, bring some water and head outdoors. Endless ingredients and potential concoctions await.
Making potions never gets old, and if your kids haven’t ever tried, this will give them a tool for play and investigation they can (and likely will) use again and again. By giving kids a broad goal and the ability to design a potion recipe in any way they like, you also give them both a reason and the freedom to create in their own way. Kids can engage in the kind of playful and iterative exploration that is fundamental tinkering. And why is tinkering so important? It's a critical way to develop creativity and problem solving skills. Mitchel Resnick and Eric Rosembaum of MIT’s Media Lab remind us,
"Tinkering is more important today than ever before. We live in a world that is characterized by uncertainty and rapid change...Success in the future will depend not on what you know, or how much you know, but on your ability to think and act creatively—on your ability to come up with innovative solutions to unexpected situations and unanticipated problems.”
As kids make potions, they not only flex their senses of sight, touch and smell, but they also strengthen their ability to integrate their senses. For kids of age 18 months through about 5 years, there is a set of repetitive behaviors that kids of this age all over the world exhibit and that are tied to critical brain development, called "behavioral schema." Gathering ingredients, mashing and mixing as well as stirring activate transporting, transforming andcirculation schema.