Moon Sand & Water Beads – possibly not a good idea

Today has been difficult.

Actually that is not entirely true because this morning we had a great time at a local park, running and exploring.

This afternoon however, was not quite as good as it could have been.

The plan was to play with the moon sand and water beads. Jasmine had asked for a beach scene so I set her up in one of the gravel trays. In the tuff spot I also set up a beach scene for the boys and then I placed some more water beads in a separate tray with a little bit of shaving foam at one end so they could mix them together if they chose to.

Jasmine started by creating her beach scene with a playmobil boy, some pebbles and a twig we’d collected this morning, a toy car, a couple of pine cones and a toy tree. She made up stories, adding bits and pieces to the scene as she needed.

Thomas began by playing in the tray with the water beads and shaving foam. He asked me if he could mix them together and I said yes, he could do if he wanted. He spent a few minutes picking beads and foam up in a small pot and mixing them in a larger bowl, before deciding that actually he didn’t want them “dirty”, and he needed them cleaned NOW. I should have realised at that moment how the rest of the afternoon was going to go! After a few minutes of temper, he calmed down and I agreed to rinse the beads as long as he realised that I would only do it once and if he didn’t want foam on the beads, he shouldn’t put foam on the beads! He then did actually play calmly with them for a while, counting them and lining them up on a duplo baseboard again and transferring them from one container to another using a spoon.

Ben played with the sand and water beads in the gravel tray. He started by driving his diggers round in the beads, then moved to the sand and drove some vehicles in there. He spent a lot of time watching Jasmine and copying what she was doing, so when she got playmobil motorbike out, he wanted one as well (lucky we have 2!). When Jasmine got a “house” for her person, Ben wanted one as well.

After a while, Thomas moved over to the Tuff Spot and the boys started making ramps and hills out of sand for the playmobil bikes to race up and down (and smash into pieces!) Thomas also started burying some of the water beads in the sand.

As it was getting close to the time I needed to start tidying everything away for dinner, and everyone was finally playing nicely together, I decided to begin taking out some of the water beads that weren’t being played with as the boys were playing with the bikes and ramps.

I had already made a couple of trips to the kitchen when I came back into the living room again to find the boys throwing moon sand across the room 😦

I’m afraid to say the play was stopped there and then. I took them upstairs to clean them up and suggested they stay there while I tidied up – although perhaps “strongly suggested” would be a better description!

I was so disappointed. Obviously when we do messy play I expect mess.. in fact I plan for it and put loads of towels down on the floor so they can pour, tip and mix to their hearts content. But I won’t have throwing, and the kids all know this.

What made it worse for me is that, usually, the kids are really good when we do messy play. They really enjoy it and are so engrossed in what they are doing that doing something that they know is wrong just wouldn’t happen.

I don’t know what was different today. They love the water beads. They love the moon sand. Maybe I gave them too many choices of things to play with this afternoon? Maybe it was just destined to happen today?

So the afternoon ended on a pretty negative note for me.

But tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow we’ll try something else.. probably in the garden though 😉

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2 thoughts on “Moon Sand & Water Beads – possibly not a good idea

  1. Natasha says:

    Oops! Little scamps, it looks like great fun thought- maybe they got into holiday mode as they we’re playing ‘beach’

  2. Fee Berry says:

    The trouble is, if you have three children, it’s fairly hard to ensure that they are all in the mood for the same thing at the same time… so directing their play in this way is almost bound to lead to trouble, if even one of them is not in the mood to sit quietly and play at this sort of thing. It was a good move to try to tire them out before you began!

    Having unschooled two boys, I’d also say that this activity is one which the boys would have called girly and possibly rejected out of hand – or it would have deteriorated into sand throwing or very messy quite quickly… in my children’s case, probably with the younger son and my daughter sabotaging the older boy’s play.

    I think it would help to give them choices, maybe. At the time… I often found that something we all decided to do in the morning was not what they wanted by the time we got to the afternoon. Or to be alert to their preferences… if throwing is their thing of the moment, to find ways that they could do that safely. Not throwing loose sand, obviously, but maybe filling old socks with sand and using them for throwing at a target?

    In my experience, trying to get kids to do things they don’t want to do is uphill work… tuning into them and finding positive ways to use their inclinations can be very rewarding and a lot less hard. Play is being free – as soon as there is any direction involved, you are risking them regarding it as work.

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