Video 29: Muck Science!

In “My Mess Is Best”  you saw the kids having a blast with the smooth texture that shaving cream offers, especially with sprayed water on it. Yes, it all ended in the shower : D This time, the texture that they find is quite similar to thick, wet muck.

The boys talked a lot about the feeling of touching, squeezing and pounding the artificially made muck. The best part is that, much like goop (when you subscribed to this blog, you received a link for that special episode), we can store this muck away and use it again and again and again (the alum prevents it from getting moldy). Each child had his own approach to this “homemade muck:” one wanted to explore it over time and the other wanted to make something with it right away and install it in the town that has evolved into a city (you can see the beginning stages here).

So, whether you are a parent or a teacher, you probably know that by offering messy play to your children you are providing an environment that instantly teaches them quite a few important things:

  • To discriminate textures.
  • To discriminate temperatures (they often talk about how cool it is when they first start mushing it and how warm it gets after a while).
  • To discriminate the sounds they hear when using the muck (they also mention how ‘loud’ muck is compared to goop, or shaving cream).
  • To compare textures, smells and colors.
  • To learn about their own threshold of comfort for getting covered with muck.
  • To develop vocabulary that is specific to this muck: mushy, thick, wet, tall, short, sticky, and so on.
  • To learn about the limitations and possibilities of muck.
  • To learn some basic principals of chemistry: they talked about adding flour to the mix to see what happens – an experiment for another day!
  • To explore definitions about states of matter: is muck a solid, or a liquid? Is it in-between? The discussion is ongoing at the moment.
  • To make connections over time: When we take the children to the beach they typically rush to the ocean and hide their feet under the sand letting the water sink them deeper every time the waves wash over their feet. As you saw in the video, one of the children hid his hand under the muck. He talked about how it reminded him of those visits to the beach when he hid his feet under the sand. He made connections about time, textures (“the sand is really grainy”) and also mentioned that if he had more muck, he would try to hide his feet under it, too – that remains to be seen!
The key once again is to help children develop problem solving skills that will be useful in their lives whether learning to read (words, graphs, or charts!), get along with others, or make choices. But they need to have time to answer their own questions. One of many gifts that we can give to our children is free time to explore. THEIR own time, not ours.

Set-Up for Episode #29:

  • Soap Bar (Ivory soap works best)
  • Water
  • Toilet paper
  • A tea spoon of alum
  • Empty Bowl
  • Food coloring
  • Amounts vary. Keep adding equal proportions of toilet paper and water until you get a “mucky” consistency – or not. It really depends on what feels right for you and your children.
You noticed in the video that I added footage of the muck in a plastic bag to make it easier and more comfortable for those who might be a bit reticent about going knee deep into this. It also helps children who need more time to engage in these experiences to get used to and take baby risks, one day at a time. If you decide to store it like playdough (in an air tight container), add a few drops of water when you reuse it as needed.

Pic 1: A castle!

Pic 2:  A hidden moat.


Pic 3: Exploring plain “muck.”

Pic 4: Storage container.

Pic 5: Castle Tower.

Pic 6: Castle Wall!

Pic 7: A castle is born in a new neighborhood!

Did you enjoy this post? Share it with others! Need more? Let us know how we can help you enjoy this site with your children.

Have fun and Go Beyond The Classroom!


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