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
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.
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.
One of the easiest science experiments is “Sink or Float.” Just gather up some stuff on your living room floor and toss it in a bowl of water. Done. Science.
Okay, you could probably make it a little more educational.
First, make some predictions (hypotheses) about the objects. An easy way to do this is group them into “sink” and “float” piles. For older kids, make a chart of the objects, hypotheses, and actual results. You can make your own or print one from the handy internet.
Next, the fun part. Test the objects in water. This is a hit with all ages. Who doesn’t love dropping things in water?
Then, discuss the results and draw conclusions. Ah, the learning part. Were your hypotheses correct? What do the sinking objects have in common? What makes an object float?
I always like to follow up an experiment with a good book. Check out library books with a 532 call number or try some of my favorites:
- Magic School Bus Ups and Downs: A Book about Floating and Sinking by Joanna Cole
- What Floats? What Sinks? A Look at Density by Jennifer Boothroyd
- Will it Float or Sink? (Rookie Read-About Science) by Melissa Stewart
And if your library seems oh-so-far-away, try this equally educational online video. Plus it’s interactive!!
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.
Okay, so spring is almost over. Don’t worry. You can do this activity any time. Just take pictures of something growing and changing, then have your kids put the pictures in order. They get to witness the changes in person, then review it with the pictures. Try taking pictures of flowers, trees, bushes, plants, or grass in your yard. Or take it inside and plant a seed in a flower pot. If you want to get all science-y (I’m sure that is a word), take the pictures at the same time each day. Obviously, I am not a scientist.
The celery experiment. Do it. It’s easy and it’s fun and it’s SCIENCE! A million other people have done it (and taken better pictures), but here are the cliff notes:
- Go to the grocery store and buy celery. I hear they sell it there. What it is doing there among the normal people food? Do people actually eat it? I guess they don’t have a science experiment store.
- Fill a glass with water and a few drops of food coloring.
- Cut off a stalk of celery and put that bad boy in the cup.
And there you go. You’re officially a scientist. Now you get to use big words like “hypothesis” and “observation” and jot things down in your notebook. I’m sorry, I meant OBSERVATION journal!
The National Science Teachers Association website has a wonderful scientific explanation of the experiment and follow-up questions that you can discuss with your child.