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’m always happy to find a way to use our plethora of stuffed friends. We’ve made a stuffed animal zoo, and now we are using them to learn letters. This game helps with phonics and letter recognition. All you need are animals and letters. We used a foam alphabet mat, but you could easily write letters on index cards or use letter flashcards instead.
For each stuffed animal ask:
- What animal is this?
- What letter does it start with? (If they need some help offer other words that start with the same letter)
- Can you find the letter and place the animal on top of it? (Again, depending on ability level you might need to give some clues about what the letter looks like or its place in the alphabet)
Then read an animal ABC book and see if you had the same animals!
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!
How do I keep the kids entertained while I mow the lawn? Water painting. All you need is a bucket of water, paintbrushes, and a fence. It’s free and it’s fun and it doesn’t make a mess. Plus kids can practice all kinds of things:
- patterns- use the fence pickets
- math problems
- sight words or spelling words
- and my daughters’ favorite: splattering
It isn’t the same as practicing handwriting with a pencil and paper, but that’s the point. Sometimes kids need a break from the routine. Novelty makes learning fun. Who wouldn’t want to practice their spelling words outside with a paintbrush in the sunshine instead of at the kitchen table?
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.
So you’ve got a little kitchen set for your kiddo. Here are some ways to learn with all that plastic food (you know, instead of just tripping over it)….
- See if your child can name all the pieces of food.
- Select food and have a pretend picnic.
- Set up a pretend restaurant. Take turns being the customer and waiter/waitress and cook.
- Arrange food in rows and go shopping with a basket. Pretend to check-out and use real money.
- Sort food by color.
- Sort food by food group.
- Pick out two or more foods that start with the same letter.
- Look for shapes. Which foods are spheres? Are any flat like a circle? What about a cylinder?
- Find and count certain foods. How many eggs are there? How many oranges?
- Compare quantities. Are there more yellow foods or green foods? How many more lemons than tomatoes?
- Use food to represent addition or subtraction problems. I have four apples, then I give two to you. How many do I have now?
- Play “I’m thinking of a food.” Use adjectives to describe a piece of food to each other and take turns guessing.
- Play a memory game. Place a few foods in front of your child. Then have her close her eyes and take a food away. Ask which one was removed.
- Put a food in a sack and see if you can guess what it is just by touch.
- Go on a food scavenger hunt. Write down a list of foods to find (something to eat for breakfast, a vegetable, a food that starts with the letter B, etc.) and then see if your child can find them all!
I love ridiculously easy science experiments. I don’t want to create a shopping list just to do something with my kids. I know, sometimes it is worth. But most times I just want to grab a few things around the kitchen and be done.
- glass or bowl
This is a great activity to do after “sink or float.” Hypothesize if an egg will float in water. Test the hypothesis. Then add salt and try it again. Hint- you have to add LOTS of salt! How does it work? A raw egg has more density than tap water. Adding salt increases the density of water until at some point it is greater than the egg. Then the egg floats. Try the experiment with other materials. Talk about swimming in saltwater vs. freshwater.