“I’m forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air, they fly so high, nearly reach the sky, then like my dreams, they fade and die. Fortunes always hiding, I’ve looked everywhere; I’m forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air!”

You will know that song if you are a football supporter, as it is the adopted anthem of West Ham but the song was originally written in 1919 by a man called John Kellette and features in many films and Tv shows, most famously perhaps, sung by Doris Day in the 1951 film “On Moonlight Bay.”

Have you ever sung that song to yourself sat on the floor with a mini bottle of bubble mixture and a tiny plastic wand, obtained as part of a party bag, when your child is requesting (demanding) you to blow more and more bubbles, whilst running around screeching and trying to pop them in the air before they hit the floor?

What is it with bubbles? All kids love them and what’s not to love; perfect spherical shapes that float around in gorgeous rainbow colours, you can catch them, pop them, see how far they can last, how far they can float. You can buy bubble machines to replace the parent on the floor with the mini plastic wand. These things produce zillions of bubbles at the rate of knots (although I have never managed to buy a store bought one that lasted very well).

There are bubbleologists. In Newcastle, one of the finest is Jesse Ward. The things that she can do with bubbles is amazing and I highly recommend that you take a look at what she does here http://www.bubbleplay.co.uk/ You can book bubble parties, have bubble entertainment at your wedding and of course bubbles make great photo opportunities.

One of the most engaging activities that I have been doing at home during lockdown with my three youngest kids, is bubble play and experimentation.

I have particularly enjoyed this one because of the ease of set up, the longevity of play but most importantly, that it engaged all three of my children (aged 7, 6 and 3) together. There was laughter, not squabbling and many shouts of “look at this one”. I was able to sit, watch, and take pictures and didn’t have to help a great deal. This was a child led activity for sure, although I did make some “suggestions”.

Our first activity was a simple one – painting with bubbles. We used three bowls with some pre-made bubble mixture we already had at home and a drop of food colouring in each bowl. I cut the bottom off three plastic bottles and took the lids off. These made excellent bubble blowers! We dipped the cut off end into the dyed bubble solution and blew through the bottle neck to create our bubbles. I spread out a large sheet of paper of the table and the kids allowed the bubbles to fall and pop on the paper making some fabulous shapes (we turned this into a big fridge picture- see below).

If you don’t have any pre-made bubble mixture at home, you can make it by following the following recipe:

  • 1 Litre of (hot) water,
  • 250ml of GOOD quality washing up liquid
  • 2-4 table spoons of glycerine (glycerine makes the bubbles thick and last longer).

I then gave the kids a straw each and watched them blowing into the bowls of mixture. At this point we added a little water and washing up liquid to make more bubbles. This is when the “woahs and look at mine!” started. Frothy balls of bubbles spilled out of the bowls, they could use the bottle blowers to capture these and set them free, floating around the garden. The two older girls used some white card to capture the pattern of the bubbles and made these into cards for their friends.

We left the bubble mixture on the table outside all day They kept coming back to it again and again with the same sense of joy and wonder each time. Not many activities will spark that level of interest!

Part way through this play, and largely to satisfy my need to craft! I managed to engage all three in making their own bubble wands. We made ours from pipe cleaners and beads (see picture) but you could use wire and lollypop sticks or any similar items that you have to hand. These produced much more traditional bubble play, blowing through the hoop to make as many bubbles as possible, but it was a great way of diversifying the activity.

You all know by now that life in the Owl Tree Café revolves around songs and singing with bubbles is no exception! The obvious choice in this case is “Tiny Tim” the turtle. Kids love the action of “strumming their lips” to make the bubble noises and clapping loudly at the “pop”!

Another great song to sing whilst playing (the benefits of singing in play is a whole other blog post!) is the following:

Can you see the bubbles floating in the air,

Can you see the bubbles floating in the air,

1 and 2 and 3 and 4,

quick catch the bubbles before they fall on the floor!

Playing with bubbles can make for some astounding pictures (even if you are not a professional photographer!). The light, the engagement and joy that you can see in the child makes the shot. I have included some brilliant ones taken by my hubby (although he is a semi-professional photographer!- www.taitimages.com for his other work).

Bubble wrap pictures and bubble wrap stomping.

This activity, whilst fun, didn’t last nearly as long as the blowing bubbles; it was also messier and required more adult intervention. Having said that the kids were excited to do it and it was an extension of our previous bubble play.

We have a selection of bubble wrap in the shed saved over from parcels received and mainly intended to wrap new ones. This time, we used the fun “popping plastic” to paint with using both our hands and feet.

The first thing was simply to paint a rainbow onto the bubbly side of the plastic and use this to make a cool bubbly rainbow picture. After that we strapped some plastic to our feet using tape, painted the plastic and stomped up and down on a roll of paper! The older girls enjoyed making more rainbow patterns and the 3 year old, James pretended he was a stomping dinosaur! It’s a fun and weird sensation popping the bubbles under your feet.