About two months ago we attended VICTA’s Early Years Weekend at New College Worcester. We had the opportunity to attend a workshop by Gwyn of Positive Eye. She spent a lot of time talking about and demonstrating how you get the -ness of an object: the spoon-ness of spoon or the shoe-ness of shoe. I spent the last month pondering how we could do this with Ronan. As much as Ronan loves playing with the world – flushing the toilet, turning on the washing machine, climbing up and down his chair – it is hard to engage him in more structured, adult-led exercises which allow one to broaden out an experience.
Finally I realized that we could engage Ronan in the orange juice-ness of orange juice. For some time, Ronan was already enjoying going to the fruit rack, choosing an orange, cutting it, squeezing it with the electric juicer and then pouring into a cup. We really got to the -ness of this when Ronan started to realize how different the orange half felt before and after he put it on the juicer. Before he could stick his fingers in and juice would fly out and afterwards it was empty. Before it was hard to get it to balance on the juicer and afterwards it stayed on and went round and round and round.
The best part was that Ronan could take apart the juicer. As each layer was removed: the cone for the juicing, the tray for catching the orange bits, the container for catching the juice, the central spindle could still be activated to get that most wonderful sound, but with a totally different manipulation. This is the closest thing to a puzzle that Ronan ever gets to. As Ronan removed each layer, he could have different interactions with the juice too. He could scope up the orange bits in the tray or take the tray off and dip his hands in the juice.
To make the experience complete, Ronan pours himself the juice, climbs down from the counter and takes the cup over to the table to sit and drink. There is no question in Ronan’s mind how orange juice comes to be. He understands the orange juice-ness of orange juice!