Each winter, I think about how difficult it is to entertain kids inside. Summer is a welcome relief of being able to leave the house and enjoy some sunshine. What I always forget is how difficult it is to keep them inside for a little arts and crafts downtime. My girls have a tendency to play until they drop, which is great, but it also causes some cranky, overtired evenings. We use our craft time as downtime. Something to change the speed a bit. This past weekend was a beautiful summer weekend, which brought a lot of outdoor play. We were in need of a break from pool time, but I also knew that there would be no getting them inside and any an activity we chose was going to need to keep us outside. What a perfect opportunity to do those projects that are a little messier.
Remember those volcano projects in school? They were always one of my favorites. There is something fundamentally cool about the very simple reaction of baking soda and vinegar. We weren’t going to spend a lot of time building a volcano, though. That’s a very involved process, and if they are still doing those in school, we are going to have an opportunity for some quality time building that in the future. We did have, though, a sizable collection of Easter egg coloring dyes. We never manage to use all of the colors in the package. It always seems like a waste to not use them, and I’ve learned that they do go bad after awhile. So, we made a little experiment of our own using red, white, and blue to celebrate the 4th of July holiday. The girls had a blast making colorful explosions, and we got to be outside so the mess was very easy to clean up.
- Place one dye tablet or small amount of food coloring on the bottom of the small containers. We used ramekins, but those small plastic drinking cups would work nicely as well.
- Cover the dye tablet with a layer of baking soda. You don’t need to add a lot of baking soda, but it should cover the bottom of the container. I added a little extra to keep the eruptions going a bit longer.
- Fill the squirt bottles with white vinegar.
- Turn the kids loose and let them have fun! The vinegar will react with the baking soda, which will cause a colorful eruption!
Nurture the Experience
This experiment is a great opportunity to introduce your kids to the scientific method. The scientific method is the key foundational piece to experiments, and the elements of it are a great way to build thinking skills. The scientific method includes:
- Ask a question.
- Make a hypothesis.
- Perform the experiment.
- Accept or reject the hypothesis.
As you set up the experiment, talk your child through the scientific method. What question are we asking when we put this experiment together? What do we think is going to happen? Do this with every step of the experiment to help them think through it. Remember to use open-ended questions and allow your child to talk through it.
Kids tend to have the first step of the scientific method down. They are never short on questions, but that doesn’t mean that you always have the answer. This book is a great resource for scientific questions about the world accompanied with their answers and some great pictures. Take it a step further and develop some experiments based on the questions in this book.
Enjoy this experiment? Use this book to start your next one. It includes step-by-step instructions for a variety of experiments that touch on life, physical, and earth science. It’s an easy-to-use guide that will allow your kids to continue to explore the scientific method.