• Time for Wonderment

    by Sonya Shoptaugh ON January 17, 2013

    Bath time. It is a part of most family’s daily routine. For some, it is fun. For others, a chore. For most, it’s a blend of both, with the common intention for children to get clean, wash the day off, and afterward, climb into fresh pjs, ready for sleep. Often this is the moment when parents exhale a sigh of relief, ‘day is almost done.’ (I know that feeling well.)

    And, it is also one of those ordinary times of day that has extraordinary potential for wonderment.


    One day awhile back, I was considering how I wanted to savor bath time more with my daughter, to slow it down rather than rush through it. This led me to think about luxurious bubble baths, and then I began to ponder what it might be like to have bubbles not only on the water, but in the air too. And what if we didn’t have regular lighting, but something more playful? And, maybe some balloons, for a festive feel…

    While AC was napping, I pulled out a few items (bubble machine, bubbles, towels, various lighting options – including a black light, more towels, balloons) and began to set up the room for her evening bath.

    Our bathroom is your basic American family bathroom. It has a tub, a toilet, some tile and a bucket of toys. That night, however, it transformed into a island of imagination.


    Children naturally approach life with a sense of humor and awe. We are born with curiosity woven into the fabric of our being – this is how we begin to make sense of the world. Too often, wonderment is seen as secondary and tangential to learning, when in fact, it is primary and at the heart of what propels us to explore and discover. And, every moment has the potential for robust wonderment, if we slow down enough and invite it in.


    As bubbles began to flow into the bath and all around her (and over the side of the tub…), my daughter was mesmerized. She watched her surroundings become iridescent as balls of rainbows wafted around her. More and more bubbles filled the air. With millions of bubbles landing all around her and on her body, she began to talk about what it might be like to be inside of one of them. She has a strong desire to fly, and perhaps she thought this would be a way for her to finally get into the air, once and for all. She bounded out of the bath.


    AC examined the bubble blowing machine to see where she could climb in.

    “Mama. If I step in back here where the liquid is, will the machine blow me out in a bubble?”
    “Ah, love, that tray looks a little small for you … perhaps we need to think of another way for you to get into a bubble…”

    She got back into the tub and we talked more about how she might be able to inhabit a bubble. Bath time ended with a lingering question and the ordinary space took on a new identity – it became a place of wonderment where time can expand and new worlds can be imagined. Now, when AC asks to take a bubble bath, I know this is what she means.

    (I would love to hear your thoughts about how you have made wonderment come alive in your daily life. Please feel free to comment below, or find me on Facebook at Creative Childhood to continue the conversation. I look forward to hearing from you!)

  • Discovery by the Light Table

    by Sonya Shoptaugh ON July 22, 2012

    I was excited.  I had grand plans for an exceptional experience with my 9 month old.  The light table was ready with things that were translucent, mouth-able, and able to manipulated by little hands.  Despite being massively sleep deprived, I had gone up to my studio the night before and arranged these things in what I thought was an attractive way. Read full article »

  • Setting Her Animals Free

    by Sonya Shoptaugh ON

    When AC was around 10 months old, she became fascinated with opening things up, taking lids off containers, removing paper – the act of uncovering seemed imperative.  She had to do it.

    One night I went around the house and gathered all of her top favorite animals (duck, monkey, dog, and owl) and brought them up to my studio.  I explained to them they would only be in captivity for a short period of time, as I put each of them inside of one or  two transparent boxes, testing the lids to make sure they would come off easily enough.  They would.

    I smiled, wondering what AC would think and feel when she saw her friends in their clear houses. And I pondered what she might do.  Would she leave them there and bring things to them?  Would she open up the boxes?  Would she totally ignore them and find a piece of fuzz to play with on the carpet?  Knowing she was in an ‘opening-things’ phase, I had a sense she would be inclined to find a way to release her friends from their boxes.

    Light Table

    Read full article »

  • Tiles of Light

    by Sonya Shoptaugh ON June 27, 2012

    Children have the capacity for in-depth engagement at any age.

    AC was 8 months old when we were playing up in my studio and she wandered over to the light table where there were color magnet tiles strewn about.  I hadn’t arranged them.  I hadn’t predicted what she might do.  I hadn’t given the material any thought other than to look at the package to make sure I wouldn’t poison my child by giving it to her.  It looked like these tiles would play well with light and so I got them for AC to use at the light table.

    This morning, AC felt compelled to go over to that area.  She began by picking up one tile and studying it.  It appeared the tile was talking to her, and she was listening intently.  I’m not sure what their conversation was about, but AC was captivated.  After they had their chat, she put it down and reached for the next stack of tiles near by her.

    She didn’t want the entire stack.  She wanted another single tile, another conversation.  Having troubles getting the tiles apart, she lifted the stack to her mouth – a strategy that worked well for her in getting one tile apart from the rest.  Again she studied the tile, learning many things from her discussion with it, I’m sure.  After numerous times of selecting a tile, observing it, hearing what it had to say, and putting it down, she then scootched herself over to get to a larger tile that was calling to her.

    With this larger blue tile, AC started the way she had with the other tiles, but then she began to wiggle the tile, making the tile giggle with swirling light.  She brought the dimension of movement into her dialogue with the tiles, and this delighted her greatly.   The tiles she lifted up would dance with light, colors twirling about.  Then, the light table beckoned.

    The tiles of light sang to AC and she sang back.   She climbed on to the table and more stories were shared between an 8 month old and her new found friends.  She stayed for over half an hour before she felt it was time for a snack.  We left, both of us having been touched by wonderment.