My daughters often ask to do a science experiment. So I turn to Pinterest and hunt for something with few (and free!) materials. The water experiment from Coffee Cups and Crayons fit the bill. Just fill two glasses with water and drop some food coloring in. Place a third empty cup between them. Fold two paper towels lengthwise and put one end in the food coloring and one end in the empty cup. Watch the water saturate the paper towel and flow into the empty cup. My kids were amazed at how quickly the water moved up the paper towel. It is a great way to see how colors mix. It only takes a few minutes to see the new color, but the longer you wait the deeper the hue.
- food coloring
- three clear cups
- two paper towels
I tried my hand at homemade playdough for the first time. I am no cook. But since the end product is not supposed to be edible, how can I mess it up? I used this recipe from Domestic Super Hero. Don’t worry. You don’t need to be super hero at all. I made three batches: red, yellow, and blue.
Then the fun part: mixing colors! I divided each of my colors of playdough into two equal halves and then set one of the halves off to the side. The remaining half should be divided in half again. (Perfect time to talk about how fractions are equal parts of a whole.) Now you have two equal fourths of each color. Time to mix! Take 1/4 of the red and smoosh it together with 1/4 of the blue. It takes awhile, so you might have to help if your kiddo wears out on the mixing. See if your kid can guess the color that you are making…then see if it actually turns out. Our purple was a little on the gray side. But you can always add a pinch more red or blue to tweak the color.
Our last step was to put our colors on a color wheel. There are tons of free blank color wheels out there. I used the secondary color wheel from Mr. Printables. I liked how the color words were labeled so my daughters could match them up. If you don’t have a reader yet, give them clues like “Red has three letters. Can you find the word blue? It starts with the letter B. Orange is red and yellow mixed together so it should be in between them.”
And if you are still in the mood to play, here are 15 more ways you can learn with playdough!
We tried out the milk and dish soap experiment I saw floating around the interwebs. It is pretty cool! My kids were definitely entertained and wanted to do it again and again.
- milk (whole or 2%)
- dish soap
- food coloring
- dinner plate or bowl
Fill the plate or bowl with enough milk to cover the bottom. Then drop in some food coloring.
Dip a Q-tip in the food coloring to see what happens (nothing). Then dip the Q-tip in dish soap and touch it to the food coloring. Wow! No need to stir, the colors will explode and mix on their own.
We recently discovered water beads. You see, there is this thing called “Pinterest” that has all sorts of ideas for kids. You should really check it out. 🙂 So I ordered some from Amazon (a 2-oz pack of Jelly Beadz), but I hear you get them even cheaper at dollar stores or floral supply stores.
Water beads are awesome. They start out tiny and very hard, then you soak them in water for a few hours. They soak up the water and become large and gelatinous. That is a cool word. But not cooler than water beads. Seriously. As fun as it is to feel then between your toes (try it!), you can also LEARN with them. I know. Mind blown.
- Fine Motor Skills– They are SLIPPERY! It takes a steady hand and pincer grip to pick them up. Or try scooping them up one a time with a spoon. We even tried chopsticks. I think it is impossible.
- Colors– Sort by color into smaller containers.
- Language– Use adjectives to describe how water beads look, feel, etc.
- Letters- Use the water beads to “hide” plastic letters, then go on a letter hunt.
- Estimation– Choose a small container and estimate how many water beads will fill it up. Then find out!
- Counting- Take turns grabbing handfuls and counting how many you can hold.
- Addition and Subtraction- Math is more fun when you have wiggly water beads to add together or take away.
- Patterns- Make a pattern with the colors. It is difficult to make the beads line up, but that is part of the fun!
- Capacity– Kids will naturally want to fill up containers, so throw some measuring cups and let the kids explore. They can see firsthand how many 1/4 cups it takes to fill up a cup.
- Hypothesize and Experiment- Do water beads bounce? Can you squish them? What happens when you put them in salt?
And speaking of experiments, Creekside Learning offers a free printable science observation worksheet that is perfect for older kids.
*Disclaimer- Water beads look a lot like candy. I wouldn’t use them with babies or toddlers who like to put things in their mouths.
So easy. Fold toilet paper tubes to make a triangle and square. Lucky you, the circle is already done. 🙂 Then dip the ends in paint, stamp on paper, and you have a shape masterpiece! This is a great craft for toddlers who haven’t mastered painting with a brush. You can talk about shapes and colors while you create.
You might want to give them one color at a time or else this happens…
I was inspired by all the very cool paint chip color match games on Pinterest like this one from One Little Project at a Time. It is an easy and FREE way to teach colors and the clothes pin adds some fine motor practice, too. Only, I didn’t have clothes pins. And my paint chip samples had cut-out squares.
No problem. This makes it even easier to make. I just cut off the tops of the samples and then cut them apart. Done. Now to see if the pieces match, you just slide it behind the open square.
Without the clothes pins it is also easier to store. Just throw it all in a zip-lock bag and keep it in your purse for a waiting game at a restaurant. Or use at the table while you are making dinner.
One of our favorite car games is “I Spy.” The traditional game uses colors (at least the one I always played)…
- Player 1 chooses a color of an object in sight of all players and says “I spy with my little eye something (insert color of object here).”
- Other players take turns guessing objects that are the given color.
- Some people allow players to ask yes/no questions such as “Is it inside the car? Is it smaller than my hand? Is on the left side of the car?”
- A player wins when she guesses the object correctly. Then it is her turn to say “I spy….”
I Spy is a fun way to pass the time on a long car ride or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. As a bonus, kids are also learning! What concepts could you work on using the game I Spy?
- colors- “I spy with my little eye something blue.”
- shapes– “I spy with my little eye something square.”
- numbers– “I spy with my little eye three of something.” This would work best if you are in a room where the kids could walk around and easily count objects.
- letters- “I spy with my little eye the letter B.” You could spy letters on billboards while you are driving, or letters on a page while you are reading.”
- words- “I spy with my little eye the word go.” Again, this could work on billboards on the road or in books in a waiting room.
- spelling- “I spy with my little eye something that begins with the letter C.” You could just give the first letter, spell out a whole word, or maybe even letter patterns inside the word like “ee.”
- phonics- “I spy with my little eye something that begins with the sound /s/.” Same playing with letters, but this time use letter sounds.
- rhymes- “I spy with my little eye something that rhymes with bee.”
- adjectives- “I spy with my little eye something smooth.” This is another game that would be best played in a room where kids could feel the different textures.
- measurement– “I spy with my little eye something about one inch tall.” Be sure to review unit measurements before you play. If you play this at your house, they could walk around and measure things with a ruler.
Our local food pantry, Harvesters, does a yearly competition where businesses build structures out of cans. Then when the competition is over, all the cans are donated to Harvesters to feed those in need. The designs are on display at the mall for about a month.
We got inspired to make our own CANstruction at home! Can you tell what we made? (ha- unintentionally pun)
Did you guess? It was a giraffe, rainbow, and castle. Constructing with cans was free, fun, and (bonus!) I had an organized pantry when we were all done. It would be a great activity for the kids while you put away groceries. And of course there is all sorts of learning that can be done with cans…
(Common Core Standards appear in italics. They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels. These standards are used in almost every school in the country. Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)
- Colors- Talk about the different colors on the cans, then divide them into groups or make a rainbow.
- Size- Compare sizes of cans. Find all the cans that are the same size. What happens when you stack a large can on a small one?
- Counting– How many cans in all? Count how many you can stack in a tower.
- Addition and Subtraction– How many bean cans plus tuna cans do we have? (first grade- Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction)
- Geometry- Talk about 2D vs 3D. Use the word cylinder. Point out the circles on top and bottom of a cylinder. (kindergarten- Identify shapes as two-dimensional or three-dimensional)
- Measurement– Measure things around the room with cans. How many cans long is the couch? (first grade- Express the length of an object as a whole number of length units, by laying multiple copies of a shorter object end to end)
- Classification- Sort the cans into groups based on color, size, or type of food. (kindergarten- Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count)
- Reading– Beginning readers might be able to read some of the labels using the picture as a clue. If they know it is a can of corn, see if they can pick out the word “corn” on the can.
- Letters- Try to make letters or even words out of the cans.
- Creative building– And the most fun, building!
During our recent packing paper fingerpainting extravaganza, we also made prints. There was so much paint from the color mixing that Big Sis started making designs with her finger. I gently pressed white paper over it and… ta da!
Multiple prints can be made from the same design (depending on how much paint you use and how hard you press). We made our design on packing paper, but I’m sure it would also work on tin foil, wax paper, a cookie sheet, or the table itself. It would be fun to experiment with writing letters or numbers and see how they come out backwards! Let me know if you try it and how it works!