Pretend Play – Science Lab

This is cool science !  There were no real instructions for this pretend play  just a buffet of fun things safe to mix in experiments.  My son got into this right away taking on the serious personality of a chemist as he dove into his imagination. This is so easy to do because all you really need is water and a few kitchen tools, everything else is just icing on the cake.

  1. Gather your materials. For our science lab we used a handful of glass jars -if you are really keen you can put graduated measurements up the sides, but remember kids imaginations don’ need every detail done for them.  You may want a few absorbent place mats, turkey baster, eye droppers, small measuring cups,  mini whisks, some shampoo or dish soap , some baking soda , water and food color.  Also eye protection and an apron or lab coat is a must!
  2. I added a few drops of food coloring in jars of water and set everything out – something I learned years ago is if everything is at arms reach fewer things spill . If I was doing this with multiple kids I’d ditch the chairs and have them stand at a low table.
  3. Start concocting! 
  4. The baking soda mixed with the shampoo made a nice ( not overly) fun fizzy foam, clearly the shampoo was acidic. This made me remember doing a science experiment in grade 4 with all sorts of things and mixing them with baking soda to see which was the most acidic. If you want you could incorporate that too.
  5. Keep going!  He had a blast.
  6. I got a tub ready to soak everything in after playing.
  7. We had so much fun I had to dump out his beaker and get him some new yellow water.
  8. Popped them all in the water – we let them soak and came back later to scrub. See this activity includes practical life and water sensory play too.

Buried Treasure – Magnet Activity

Put on your pirate hats and grab your treasure maps and discover buried treasure with this magnetic discovery box . It was so much fun and a great way to work on a number of things from colors, counting, letters… the sky is the limit. This is not at all safe for infants, toddlers or any child still putting things in their mouths. My 4 year old son was happy as a clam playing this over and over again while his sister napped. Especially since I explicitly told him it was only for big kids, no babies allowed. It’s nice to have things just for him now that he has to share so much.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a magnetic wand , some magnetic marbles ( ours came with our wand),some magnetic letters/numbers,  a dish tub, some cracked wheat and or rice. I know some parents are concerned about using sand for crafts so I searched for the best replacement and this bulk cracked wheat really looks like sand!
  2. Pour your rice and cracked wheat into your tub.
  3. Take some time feeling the pretend sand , talk about how it feels, ask your child if they like it or not.
  4. Ask your child to cover their eyes and hide the magnets. * hint about keeping everyone in your family safe. Count the magnets before they go into the tub and do a “headcount” of them after you are done playing. Magnets are really fun toys and great for learning but in the wrong hands/ mouths they are very dangerous.
  5. Search for treasure!
  6. Ask what they found- it’s a fun way to practice letter and number recognition, counting , or even addition and subtraction!
  7. This is what baby girl was doing while we explored.


Ice Fishing and Color Mixing !

To tell you the truth I didn’t plan this activity, I saw the fishing net , wanted to do something with it and didn’t have much for my son to catch so instead I made some ice.  To make it more fun we colored the ice, then to make it more educational we made them red and yellow to create orange ! It was a big hit and not as big a mess as I feared .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a bin or tub, a ice cube tray , food coloring , a fish net ( or soup ladle) and water. You will also need plain ice for the second part.
  2. Start by putting a few drops of food coloring in your ice tray – half one color, half the other. 
  3. Add water and freeze.
  4. Fill your tub with water – ours was too warm, the ice melted so quickly the color mixing was fast. When I do it again I will use cold water so it’s a slower mix.
  5. When ice firm, show it to your child and tell them you are going to put it in the water. Ask them to make a prediction about what will happen to the ice when it is in the water, what will happen to the water ?  Pop it in!
  6. Mix and catch with net.
  7. Pop in more plain ice to “fish” – my son had fun with the color mixing but the extension of the activity was the real fun.

Wrecking Ball Science!

by Kim

I don’t think it is a secret how much I love science. I love teaching my kids about science, without telling them it’s science. Preschoolers are so much fun to watch when they experiment and learn. We did this fun activity on a recent rainy day that taught my kids about spacial relations and physics, but it was disguised as a wrecking ball.

Here is what you will need: some yarn, an empty key ring, a ball, masking tape, and some blocks.

First, tape the key ring to a door frame using the masking tape. You want to only use masking tape because any other tape may damage paint or stained wood.

Next wrap the ball with the yarn. Any ball will do.

Have your child build a structure with the blocks. You do not have to use blocks. Empty yogurt or butter containers work great, so do food storage containers.

Thread the yarn through the key ring.

Have your child hold the end of the yarn in one hand and the ball in the other. Show them how they can adjust the height by pulling or letting go of the yarn. For the younger two kids I held the non-ball end for them.

Now your child can let loose and do some demolition!

We had a neat time talking about how we needed to pull it to make it higher and standing further back to make the ball hit the building harder. It was so exciting to hear my son point these things out. I would ask how we could hit the blocks at the very bottom and he would tell me how he thought it could be done. So I told him to test it out.

It was a good time for everyone. Nothing says fun like demolition. :-)

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Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.

Gumball Run!

by Kim

I saw this idea originally here on mumma made it and have been wanting to do it ever since. We have had thunderstorms for a few days so what a perfect opportunity to try it out.

All you will need are pool noodles, gumballs, and a serrated knife.

I cut the pool noodles into different lengths and then cut them in half. You can use scissors for this, but a serrated knife made it so easy (be careful, though).

I set up a system of the “slides” on the furniture. My kids were tickled pink.

I had them guess whether the gumball was going to make it to the bottom or not. This time it didn’t make it.

We played around with a few different ways of putting the slides and connecting them. I challenged Cole to make a system using at least 3 different colors. Here is what he very meticulously made.

He was hoping the gumball would shoot up at the end and into his mouth. You and I know that it didn’t do that, but didn’t understand why. So I had the opportunity to explain (in preschooler terms) about speed, force, and gravity.

We also set up slides next to each other to race. We wondered if certain colors would go faster than others. We had to test it out and talked about why they went equally fast.

We tested out whether the incline would make a difference on how fast it went. My son was really into trying all sorts of angles. I think we did this experiment at least 20 times on different pieces of furniture.

While my daughter didn’t really get into the hypothesis and explaining part, she loved participating in the testing. She would squeal as the gumballs went shooting down the slides.

This can easily be modified using a marble, but I know my toddler and I know she would put it in her mouth. So I opted for gumballs. If I know it is going in her mouth I might as well use something that is meant to be there.

While gumballs are a suitable choice for preschoolers with supervision, they are choking hazards for under 3 years of age. My house has gumballs often (thanks for the gumball machine Grandma) and my children are very familiar with them. I was very confident doing this activity with my daughter. You know your children and if you are not comfortable doing this with them, it is better not to.

This activity was a great opportunity to discuss all sorts of different science concepts with my preschooler. I took advantage of the different colors of pool noodles and gumballs and showed them to my toddler. Overall it was a great activity for both age levels. We had a lot of fun doing it.

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Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.