When my three-year old woke up the other day, the first thing she did was ask, ” can we do an experiment today?” Seriously.
An “experiment” happens to be three-year-old-code for setting up a concoction station. Also known as magic potion lab. Because this mini-sicence lab activity raises so many questions, engages my child fully, and challenges her curiosity, this is a request that I almost never refuse to fulfill.
The beauty of the magic potion lab is that you can source your pantry and pull out whatever you desire. No special trip to the market is necessary. I don’t know about you, but I am in love with projects that are convenient and low-cost.
The following supply list is what we started with, but feel free to work with what you’ve got.
- Baking Soda
- Liquid Watercolors or Food Coloring
- Tall Glass Mason Jar
- Pipette or Eye Dropper
- Kitchen Towel
Tip #1: Set this up in the kitchen
We’ve done this in other rooms of the house and even outside, but the kitchen works the best because it’s near a water source, the floors are made to be spilled on, and ingredients are close at hand.
Clear some counter space. Set up all your supplies. In this case we used a tall mason jar, a small jar of liquid watercolors, a small pitcher to fill with water and oil, and a rag for wiping up messes.
I encourage children to do all the work themselves and the little pitcher makes this especially doable.
Tip #2: Introduce just a few ingredients at a time
You might feel inclined to offer your child a smorgasbord of ingredients to pick and choose from, but this tends to be overwhelming and it will actually shorten your child’s attention span. A better bet is to introduce just two or three ingredients at a time. This way, your child will learn about the unique properties of those ingredients and understand what happens when they combine.
In the picture (above), we worked with water, oil, and liquid watercolors to explore the phenomena of immiscible liquids (or those liquids that don’t mix, such as water and oil).
Tip #3: Always keep a supply of baking soda and vinegar in the pantry
When my children or their neighborhood friends ask me if they can make concoctions, they inevitably have baking soda and vinegar explosions in mind. Invest in a gallon-sized bottle of vinegar for just a couple dollars and you’ll keep the alchemy troops happy for a long time.
Two questions for you:
Do you have any tips for setting up a magic potion lab? And what science project has held your child’s attention for longer than you might have expected?
If you loved this post by Rachelle of TinkerLab you will love other ideas of hers and other bloggers over on our Science For Kids Pinterest board. Check back here tomorrow for even more fun!