We love to play with vinegar and baking soda at our house . We explored it with squirt guns, at a play date and even pretending to be mad scientists. This time we made potions but really we just made a really awesome fun mess! We made these after school this week and already my 2 year old has asked to make so many I am out of vinegar and baking soda. Kids love to pretend and mixing imagination with scientific inquiry is a great way to get them interested in asking questions and testing their theories out. We pretended we were making love potions but not the way that maybe a teenager would think about it. Instead we were making potions to make everyone feel loved, not to fall in love with us and even that fell by the wayside . Bottom line, have fun and make sure you have towels ready!
- Gather your materials. You will need some baking soda, vinegar and then we added food color and food flavoring ( strawberry and cherry) . You will want clear containers, spoons, and whatever you need to protect your house from food color.
- Set out the ingredients and let them explore. While they started I talked about how some people think that potions and spells will make people fall in love and they both thought that was crazy talk! We pretended we were making people feel love but soon they just got into making a potion and the love bit was lost. This is fine the goal wasn’t to teach about love potions so much as simply explore.
- My son saw the baking soda and immediately got excited about the prospect of a fizzy overflowing potion. Only he couldn’t remember what made it bubble and discovered it was not the cherry flavoring.
- My daughter followed her brother’s lead and absolutely adored every minute.
- Once they figured out it was the vinegar they made potions over and over. In all different color combinations and with as much excitement every time. It soon turned into making predictions about if it would overflow or not.
A science experiment for kids should be fun and I don’t think my son could have had more fun than he did with this mash up of two classic summer activities. He is all about squirt guns and backing soda volcanoes are a constant favorite here. Using your child’s interests to make learning fun is such a fun way to make your child eager to learn. If squirt guns are not welcome in your play then you can use eye droppers, turkey basters and even bath toys instead. Make sure after the activity you wash the squirt guns carefully to get all the vinegar out so there are no accidental squirts at someone later.
- Gather your materials. You will need a pan ( ignore the mini muffin tin, that was our first attempt and well obviously it didn’t work. It was too hard for a 5 year old to get a good aim on such small targets), baking soda, vinegar , food coloring, a large measuring cup or bowl , protective eye wear and squirt guns.
- Start by adding food coloring in random dots to your pan.
- Cover with baking soda.
- Fill your squirt guns with vinegar. The easiest way to do this is to submerge the squirt guns in a bowl or large measuring cup full of vinegar.
- Get ready – go outside! Make sure the protective eye wear is on . Ask your child to make a prediction about what will happen.
- Shoot !
- He loved the colored bubbles – he had no clue there was food coloring under the baking soda.
- He stepped closer to get the harder to aim at areas.
- It was super fun to see all the colors emerge and even mix together .
- After the guns were empty his sister was invited out to do some pouring too.
Making science fun and exciting for kids when they are young lays the foundation for the years ahead. Have a blast with this simple science experiment , it was a huge hit with my son and one of his buddies at a play date we had yesterday. I told the boys that we had a mystery to solve which powder would make the biggest eruption? That was all two 5 year old boys needed to hear.
- Gather your materials. You will need some small containers , something for your little scientists to pour the vinegar out of ( ours were little food containers used for dip), cookie sheets to keep your kitchen from becoming a mess, a and some paper and marker to make numbers. Then you will also need some baking powder, baking soda , cornstarch and vinegar. I made a little chart but we didn’t use it , they were too excited and that excitement was my goal so we just asked questions and made predictions verbally.
- Start by pouring the vinegar into a smaller container. This made it much easier to refill the cups between pours.
- Fill the containers with the powder and place in order on the trays.
- Call the kids.Have them check out the powders however they want and decide which will make the biggest eruption.
- Pour ! #1 was baking powder which has baking soda in it so it bubbled over ( more than I expected ) but it didn’t erupt.
- #2 was cornstarch and both boys declared it a “Dud” .
- #3 was the grand finale and it didn’t disappoint.
- After the experiment was over they played and poured until there were no more bubbles to be had. They were chattering so quickly to each other about droids and potions and giggling it was hard to catch what they were pretending it all was, but it was clear they were having a ball. After the play date was over my son asked to do more science at play dates. I am more than willing!
On the way to preschool a few weeks ago my son and I got to talking about foreign species of animals and how destructive they are to the habitats they invade. In that rather complex conversation I realized my son knew a lot about habitats but there were some animals he simply said came from the zoo … it was time for some learning cloaked as a game. I finally got around to making this over the weekend and we had fun.
- Gather your materials. I used construction paper and scissors for the paper habitat mats I made, double stick tape and a glue stick. You will also need a marker and lots of animal toys. Some of ours are bath toys that weren’t all the way dry… oops.
- Start by cutting the sheets of construction paper in half , this size is perfect for the mats and then you can use the other half for the cut outs.
- Decide which habitats you will make. I decided on jungle, farm, antarctic, and forest because of the animals we had on hand. Remember to use the toys you have for learning, with some brain storming you can save money and play with all those extras that don’t get much use. My helper played with the animals while I brain stormed, with her goggles on of course.
- Create. I loved doing this. If you have older kids see if they want to create this for their younger sibling(s).
- Label them and call for someone to come play!
- With my five year old I let him sort and when he tried to put the raccoon in the jungle I asked ” Have you seen racoons around here? Do we live in the jungle?” and let him answer and adjust. Always ask why because sometimes they have a darn good reason that may only make sense to them but it will likely open up a teaching opportunity for you. Younger kids like my daughter can do an simplified version with only one mat and a simple yes or no sorting activity. I’d focus mostly on labeling the animals and their attributes at that age.
- After he sorted the rest I took some and placed them in the wrong place. Asking why a monkey couldn’t live in the antarctic, or why a whale wouldn’t enjoy swimming in the pond in a forest. This forced him to consider why animals live in specific places. We also touched on domestication and how farms and zoos are different. It was the best part of the lesson and wouldn’t have happened without the sorting game as an ice breaker.
The Next Step
These are my ideas for extending the activity for children who are ready for it . The next step for this would be to purposefully put an animal in the wrong habitat and ask your child to write down a list of things they would need to survive in the wrong habitat. For example a monkey in the antarctic would need warm clothing, fresh fruit delivered, a enclosure built off the ice, maybe even some snow boots! Let them make the list but make sure they answer why they need each item too!
A House for Hermit Crab is a book I have owned for many years. It offers so many learning opportunities for young readers and doesn’t loose any of the entertainment in trying to hard to teach. The hermit crab feels drab and each month he asks different sea creatures to help decorate his shell . As the shell is getting more and more beautiful it’s also getting more and more snug and almost time for the hermit crab to leave it behind and find a bigger one. The book teaches about sea creatures habitats, months of the year and moving. More than moving it teaches about change . Change is difficult for all of us but a little trickier for most preschoolers which makes this book so valuable.
Have fun burning off energy and learning about physics with this simple and earth friendly bowling game. We have had a cooler than normal summer in the Pacific North West , unfortunately my kids don’t have lower than average energy . Sometimes getting out of the house isn’t an option but you can still have fun and burn some energy without trashing your house . I love making things with family pictures but you could easily number the pins, label them with shapes or letters too.
- Gather your materials. You will need some paper towel rolls ( toilet paper will work but don’t topple over as easily. I highly suggest paper towel rolls), pictures of your family printed out on regular printer paper, tape, scissors and a ball.
- Print out pictures of your family. You will want pictures that are vertical .
- Tape and roll.
- And tape again.
- Make as many or as few as you want. We didn’t play by real bowling rules , instead we just tried to knock as many down as possible.
- Then we set the pins up in a different formation to see if that would help knock more down . In all we tried 4 different set ups, I was just looking to have fun and play and we ended up with a physics lesson! See learning through play people!!
- After we were done my daughter enjoyed talking to the pins while I cooked dinner. So it was a win with both kids. Perfect!
Books About Family
Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton. This author is a preschool parents dream, short and easy to read melodic books with illustrations to die for. The story is simply a little love song about all the ways the dog loves the puppy, simple and touching. As an educator something I love is that the dogs don’t have an obvious race , they don’t even have an obvious gender which is perfect. Regardless of who loves who in your family your child can see you in the dog and themselves in the puppy! I think that is the perfect valentine! My son didn’t warm up to this book right away, but now not only does he love it he is very very specific that only I can read it to him . It’s become a big favorite in our house.
Sometimes It’s Grandmas and Grandpas: Not Mommies and Daddies by Gayle Byrne is a wonderful book about grandparents who are raising their grand daughter. There is no long drawn out explanation about where her parents are, or what led to her grandparents having custody and I don’t think there needs to be. They are her parents, love her, snuggle her, read with her and love her just like any parents. She does wonder about her parents and shows signs of feeling different but the security and love her grandparents provide overcome those insecurities. The author’s note at the back of the book explains that she herself is raising her grandchild and offers more resources for grandparents who are primary caregivers as well.
Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler had my son clapping and be bopping in his jammies before bed. This book is so fun to read, the musical words are impossible not to dance to. My son loves jazz, and his only disappointment was that there were no trumpets in the book. He didn’t understand that the family in the book , which included grandparents, aunts , uncles and cousins were listening to a record. I tried to tell him it was like a cd but the illustration was clearly a record player and he wasn’t buying it. Still we loved this book , the family was loving and I loved that the older brother was holding the baby, not common in kids books to see a boy holding a baby. Great book even without a trumpet.