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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. At Tinkergarten, we’ve also found that potion-making sparks such joy, that it is a perfect activity for engaging kids in conversations about their own emotions and the emotions of others. As featured in our February calendar, in this activity kids create a love potion to gift to someone special. What is a love potion? It’s a potion made with things that make us feel happy and when we give it to someone we love, it makes them feel happy, too!
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- Talk about your loved ones: Talk together about the people in your child’s life who are special to them. Wonder, how do we show our special people that we love them (e.g. give a hug, make a card, share with them)? Invite kids to think of one special person who they love.
- Introduce the activity: Show your child the empty jar and say, “Do you know what this is? It’s not just a jar. It’s a potion pot! Maybe we could use this jar to make a love potion for someone special to us.” Explain that a love potion is made with things that make us feel happy and when we give it to someone we love, it makes them feel happy, too! Take a few moments to talk about the recipient of the love potion and what might make them feel happy. Does their special person have a favorite color? Favorite plant? Where will we find ingredients for potions? All around us!
- Hunt for ingredients: Set aside the glass jars and use a bag, sack or a bindle to gather all kinds of ingredients like fallen petals from flowering trees, clovers, leaves, dandelions, freshly cut (or ripped) grass, dirt, bark, stones, mulch and more. Once kids have a good bunch of ingredients, let them know they can circle back when ready to turn them into a potion. Remind them that they can always go off again in search of more. Note: Kids will also need a stick or two for mashing and stirring.
- Offer a special ingredient or two: You can hunt for or bring along a few different materials that could enhance kids' sensory experience. Some ideas: lilacs or other scented petals, spices like turmeric or paprika, dried lavender (our favorite).
- Make a love potion: Kids can add found ingredients plus about an inch or two of water to their potion pots. Then, they do whatever it takes to mix up their potions: use sticks to stir; get a stubby piece of wood to mash it; put the top on and shake it up. Let them do their thing and give them plenty of time. You can also offer a few drops of red or pink food coloring to symbolize love. Or, they can choose a color they think their special person would enjoy.
- Notice together: As they are working, ask them what they notice about their potion. If you don’t get much back, ask to see it. Ask something about its appearance (“What do you notice about the water? Does it look the same as when you started?”). Or, ask to smell the potion, and ooo and ahh. This should prompt them to observe, notice and talk with you about the potion as well as their process.
- Gift your love potion: Once kids have made their love potion, they can use markers to add a note or drawing to the lid of the potion jar or can tie a ribbon around it. Deliver your love potion to your child's special person or take a photo and send it to them. Afterwards, take a moment to wonder together how their special person will feel when they receive their special love potion.
Why is this activity great for kids?
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. Gathering ingredients, mashing and mixing as well as stirring activate transporting, transforming and circulation behavioral schema, three of the patterns kids repeat in their play that support development of their brains and bodies. When kids think and talk about their loved ones and create something they think would make them feel happy, they are also forming the basis for empathic thinking.
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