Saturday, August 30, 2014

The surprising truth about Why Your Child Makes So Many Messes

This morning my child intentionally made a mess. I was feeding the baby while the Pony Artist fixed her breakfast.  The milk over flowed as she tried to fill her glass.  She said, "Oh, man!" and immediately began cleaning up. So far, so good. We like our children to be independent when preparing their own food.

Suddenly, she stopped cleaning and very deliberately placed her hand right on top of the over filled glass!  Milk was everywhere again!  That was not necessary.  Why would she waste perfectly good milk?  Why would she recreate a mess she herself was in the middle of cleaning up?  Why do kids delight in making messes?  

Children make so many messes, because they love to do scienceThe Pony Artist was compelled by her natural curiosity to run an impromptu experiment. The milk was a piling up on top of the glass!  That is crazy, because liquid is supposed to flow when it is not contained.  

Later in the day we took time to experiment outside, with water. 

I asked Pony Artist why the water could pile above the rim of the cup. She said, "I don't know." I explained that water is made up of tiny pieces called molecules.  When molecules stick to each other, we call them polar molecules.  (Think poles of the earth and magnets.). Because the molecules stick to each other, they can pile up above the rim of the glass. Once they are pushed hard enough though, they fall.

I do not always do a great job of redirecting my children's messes. I want to do better.  The reward is a priceless moment of happiness and learning.

What kind of mess has your little one made lately?

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Thriving STEM attempts to present scientific phenomena with accuracy.  If you find a mistake, kindly leave a correction in the comments. The post: The surprising truth about Why Your Child Makes So Many Messes originally appeared at


  1. It's true! I need to remember this the next time one the baby throws her breakfast on the floor...she's learning about gravity! :)

    1. The baby discovering gravity! We are doing that one these days too.

  2. I'll have to remember this! When my daughter was 4 I was astonished when she put a couple of crayons in her pool - why on earth would she do that. "I wanted to see if they would float." Oh. ;)


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