Friday, October 15, 2010

Explore, Discover, Learn: A Place for every Mess and Every Mess in its Place

"The more you get messy and go through the routine of cleaning up together, the easier the process will be," Ginger Carlson Child of Wonder: Nurturing Creativity and Naturally Curious Children
We made another mess yesterday- a haunted gingerbread house from a kit we get each year from dear Grandma Louise. I love to let my kids really do it instead of me doing it. This, of course, meant that it's not quite like the picture on the box, which makes the Martha Stewart craft lover in me shudder, but it does mean they really participate and use those fine motor skills instead of hanging back, following my instructions the whole time, or watching me do it.
I decided to follow Melanie's idea and throw down a sheet before we got started. I've heard of this idea before, but I've never given it a try. It just seems easier to start instead of hunting around for a sheet. Now, I don't want to overstate, but at least for this project, the sheet investment made cleanup seriously take about 10 seconds. Loved it! Why don't I get my lazy butt up and take mess-prep more seriously?
Other ideas are doing it outside, scheduling mess-time around baths and making a kid "handwash basin" for outside and inside and investing in a dustbuster. As I'm taking Katie's suggestion about resigning myself to messes I'm looking at ways to prepare accordingly for pre and post cleanup instead of being freaked out by it. As I let go of my anxiety, the door is opening to lots of projects I know my kids will love but I've avoided because of the mess factor- nut doughs, mudpies, papier mache, soap doughs, cloth sculptures, collages, and more! Of course, I'm going to have to put a limit, like Kristin suggests, to just once or twice a week, but I don't want to say never anymore. If anyone else has any mess strategy ideas, please (please. seriously.) share...
I've been doing a lot of research over the past couple months about ways to bring out the best in my kids and me and from the many books I've read so far I've come up with 10 "areas" or goals/objectives if you will. One of these is the Explore, Discover, Learn area. My kids (all kids) are wired for this, and it supports their development and overall happy-level when I find ways to fan that enthusiasm while keeping my sanity. For better or worse, messes are usually part of Explore, Discover, Learn so I better learn to work with them.
Next week I'm going to hit another area. I'm having a hard time choosing which one because they're all so good and all connect to each other, but I'll tackle this one next: Plan and Prepare


MamaLouise said...

I'm glad the boys had fun putting the haunted house together. I should probably send two next time.

Katey said...

Gingerbread houses are great fun with kids, and make for treasured memories too. My boys ask me st least every week about making some over christmastime. The key is to not unleash my inner perfectionist and let the kids just explore and enjoy.

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