These fun do-at-home experiments that encourage our girls and boys to LOVE science were suggested by our local friend, Cara, and we can’t wait to try them!
I was never much of a science person growing up. Our four-year old daughter, on the other hand, has long loved it. We are doing all we can to keep that interest going. This means our kitchen counter and/or living room floor often contain a big metal bowl that contains her latest “experiment” which is usually a mixture of flour, sugar, water, and whatever else she can convince us to allow her to put in it (“You may put two blueberries in there. Just two. No more, because I want to actually eat those, okay?”).
Here are five favorite science experiments that are great even if mama doesn’t have the science gene.
Put salt on a block of ice then drop colored water on it to watch the melting patterns.
Having grown up in Wisconsin, this jumps out at me as a way to teach kids why salt is out down on icy roads. Though this lesson is not as appropriate in the Bay Area where we now live, my daughter spent well over an hour on this. Once she was done dripping colored water in the ice block, she filled cups with warm water and poured those onto the ice, experimenting with making holes, caves and tunnels.
Using an eye dropper to drip colored vinegar into a pan of baking soda makes fizzy, colorful art! I’ll be honest, I may have enjoyed this more than my daughter, there is just something so magical about the fizzing action! We ended up leaving the pan of baking soda out on our counter for a few day with the cups and eye droppers nearby, and we returned to it several times.
With a butterfly kit, it is easy to raise caterpillars into butterflies and release them. When the caterpillars arrived (I sent in for them separately, not surprisingly), I was a little bit skeptical that this would really work. They are incredibly small and come in a container that has a solid substance (their food) in the bottom. But sure enough every caterpillar formed a chrysalis and successfully emerged as a butterfly. Per instructions, we kept the butterflies in the enclosed “garden” for a couple of days until they were ready to fly away.
Six months after doing this project, our four year old still talks about letting the butterflies go, how she wishes they could have stayed, but they were happier being let go. We are definitely repeating this activity this spring. (Note: The Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden is available on Amazon for less than $15.)
The toy that gets the very most use is a science kit about color mixing that she bought with Christmas money when she was three — it is out on our living room floor at least weekly. The My First Science Kit comes with instructions to do eight experiments, and we have enjoyed a few of them.
But the real magic was the crystals inventing new ways to dye them. My daughter has spent many hours just mixing the colors with the enclosed eye droppers and adding the crystals to the colors she makes. Once the kit’s color tablets ran out, we started using those bath coloring tablets — shhh, she has no idea what they’re really for — but food coloring would also work. My daughter really likes dropping a tablet in a cup of water and watching the color appear.
Science Museum outings
Okay, so it’s not really an at-home project, but we have a membership to our local science museum, and it is one of my daughter’s favorite places to go. She loves discovering the new exhibits that rotate through and also loves the standard exhibits that are always there. I love that we are playing and learning together which is my favorite kind of education.
Where else can you learn what your wingspan would be if you were a bird?
What do you do to encourage a love of science in your little ones?
Thank you to Cara and her daughter Brooklyn for sharing their science experiments with us.