Bubbles Art, Science, Math and Language Arts!

The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences. We must widen the range of topics and goals, the types of situations we offer and their degree of structure, the kinds and combinations of resources and materials, and the possible interactions with things, peers, and adults. ~Loris Malaguzzi, Hundred Languages of Children

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Bubbles are fascinating and afforded us several challenging and fun ways to explore and experience science, art, math, and language arts. There was a plethora of things to notice, marvel at, wonder about, investigate and enjoy!

… The variety of sizes. The delicate and yet strong nature of soap film walls. The colors and reflections that are captured in the bubbles. The many things that can be used as a bubble wand. Do heart-shaped wands make heart-shaped bubbles? The ways we feel when we blow bubbles. Should we blow slowly or quickly? Does that make a difference? Can we fill the room with bubbles if we use a window fan? The joy and sorrow felt as bubbles pop. The way the wind takes the bubbles as they leave the wand. The way the bubble solution feels, and sometimes tastes, as the bubbles pop close to our lips. Can we create bubbles from things other than store-bought bubble solution? How could we create bubbles in art? What colors are bubbles? Which words best describe bubbles and our experience? 

Prior to starting I told the girls we would be scientists, authors, readers and artists, and that the process would take us several days. We experienced bubbles through our eyes, our ears, our brains and our bodies!

  • We did several read alouds.
  • I blew bubbles and the girls experienced them only with their eyes. What did the bubbles look like? How did they move?
  • They blew bubbles. Again, as scientists they tried to observe things about the bubbles, the process and each other.
  • We all blew bubbles, and just experienced the joy of bubbles – much laughing, movement and even some screaming!
  • We created bubble wands using various materials: pipe cleaners, plastic plant mesh, plastic water bottles, straws and string. We tested and observed each – Was it easy to make bubbles with them? Did they make big bubbles? Small bubbles? What shape were the bubbles? Did the bubbles mirror the shape of the wand?
  • After each experience the girls shared words and feelings, which I scribed onto a large piece of chart paper.
  • We ended up with three lists of words. We observed the lists: How many are in each? Which list has the most words? Which the fewest? Why? (We noticed that the words increased as we engaged more fully in each experience and grew in comfort with the process.) We used math strategies to add the lists together and come up with the grand total. We marveled at our abilities to describe our experiences. We used these lists to create our list poems.

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I brainstormed many ways to create a frame for the list poems and finally decided (for ease and aesthetic reasons) to cut a frame to place over the girls paper as they stamped. The frame allowed them to stamp freely while maintaining a clear border for their list poem. I held the frame in place, as the girls used the cardboard tubes and ink pads to create their bubbles.

I was amazed and impressed with the thoughtfulness with which they approached their work. Each girl had her own particular process, but each was purposeful in her choice of tubes (various diameters) and placement of bubbles. My only instructions were to be sure to press straight down so as to get a good print (and not to fret if it was less than perfect, as that added to the uniqueness of each piece) to consider overlapping the bubbles at least a bit, and to not be afraid to overlap the frame.

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I brought in some artist quality pencils to share with the girls. I talked about why I liked the pencils – great colors, nice feel in my hand, beautiful movement across the paper – and why I chose to share them with the girls – they are artists too and I thought they would enjoy using them. I asked them to take care of the pencils as they were special to me. The girls were fantastic with the pencils! They carefully chose the colors, replaced them in rainbow order, only sharpened them as much as necessary, shared them with each other, and really seemed to empowered by using them. (We ended up using them in free choice as well as other projects.)

After the ink dried, the girls worked diligently to fill in each full shape (not the partial bubbles around the edges). We discovered that the ink, though dry, sometimes transferred around the paper, so we used a paper towel to minimize movement. Thankfully any transferred ink erased easily.

bubble words

Once finished with their art piece, the girls moved on to their list poems. The goal was to create a list poem and encircle the bubbles with the poem. (We read, observed and discussed poems from Falling Down the Page by Georgia Heard prior to this project, and emulated the freedom Georgia showed in placing words on the page.) Each girl began by choosing 12 words from the class lists and writing them in the frame of her paper. If needed, she chose more words.

When everyone was finished – and it took some girls many days to do so – we shared our poems and art pieces with each other. Finally, we displayed them on the hall bulletin board, with black and white photos of each of us blowing bubbles as the border.

RESOURCES:

The blank page

Funny, I have several blank art journals and a good number of them are empty!

I enjoy buying them. I stand in the art paper aisle contemplating the various art journals available. I compare the paper, the journal size and the way it is constructed. I think about the different art medium I want to use in the journal. I happily buy one or two journals, bring them home, and …. don’t fill them with anything!!! LOL!

LOL! I want to do some sort of art but I really like the beautiful piece of paper and cannot bring myself to begin. What is this strange sickness????

Diana Trout, author of Journal Spilling: Mixed-Media Techniques for Free Expression quotes Pablo Picasso “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” WOW!!! That’s it! My creativity – the first word, the first line, heck sometimes even the whole thing – feels so destructive to this perfect, beautiful page.

I’m working on it! I have one journal I’m using for poetry and another I’m filling with artwork. I’m breathing through the angst of destruction!

I was inspired by one of Donna’s ideas but was stymied by that blank page. What to do? As I looked around my room I spotted a magazine slated for the recycling bin. I got it! I could use that as a pile of scratch paper.

face magazine pages

It worked GREAT! I used the faces on the page for some sense of proportion, and the fact that the pages were already covered with print and color, and the mag was already going to be junked, gave me a great sense of freedom! I made many, many faces with sharpie marker – trying different weight lines, different shaped features etc etc etc. It wasn’t a big deal if I messed up, I just flipped to a new page and started again. I learned a lot from my practice pages.

I decided to do my final piece with colored pencils instead of sharpies, as I wanted a more muted look. I filled my blank page with words that bring me joy and comfort … and others that were just tangentially related… and then I picked up the grey/black pencil and added the face. I liked it! A bit of color finished it off.

face with words

The most unassuming things are often much more than they seem.

Who knew a magazine – ready for the recycling bin – could hold such power?!?!!!