Science is about questions and observations, and kids can ask questions from dawn to dusk. Younger children are free of the fear of feeling judged for asking questions. Science ignites a child’s wonder and lets him explore. Nothing gets curiosity flowing like a hands on activity. The beauty of these activities is they only require household items, nothing fancy. Get your child thinking like a scientist by asking what he or she thinks will happen at each stage of the activity and the results.
Most kids like insects. Summer is a great time to go outside and look for insects and study them. Take an old pillowcase and head outside. Hold the pillowcase open, and sweep it over bushes, flowers, or grass. Shut it until you can look at the contents. Carefully open the pillowcase, did you get any insects? What kind of insect did you capture? Insects have a head, thorax and abdomen. Can you see the different parts?
After the bug hunt go inside and have your child make his very own insect. Use any materials on hand. Paper towel rolls, chenille wires, tissue paper, markers, and crayons are a few great items for this activity. Encourage your child to have the three body parts of an insect.
2. Ivory Soap Cloud
Who doesn’t like blowing stuff up in the microwave? Making a cloud in the microwave is easy and quick. Take a bar of Ivory soap, it has to be Ivory, and place it in the microwave on a large sheet of waxed paper. Set the microwave for two minutes on high power, and press start. Quickly the soap will begin to expand like a cloud. Watch it closely, and when it quits expanding stop the microwave. Caution! The soap cloud will be hot. Let it cool, and then touch it to explore the texture. It is now a papery substance and makes flakes. This does make the kitchen smell like Ivory, the flakes can be messy, and you may want to take it outside.
3. Flower Filters
This activity has an artistic side, and it is basic paper chromatography. Take a white coffee filter and draw on it with felt tip markers, leaving a white center of about one inch in diameter. Then in a clear glass with a little water at the bottom place the filter with the white center facing down. The colors on the filter will begin to separate, expand, and blend as the water wicks up the filter. Allow the filter to dry and then bunch it up and tape it onto a straw and you have a unique flower.
Building an erupting volcano is a blast for everyone. This activity gets messy, you want to lay down newspapers or a plastic tablecloth. Start building with an empty jar or plastic bottle, a 20 ounce Gatorade bottle works well. Start constructing the outside of the volcano by squishing clay onto the outside of the container. You want it to be wider at the bottom. Placing a crumpled up plastic bag at the base and building up the clay around that should provide good structure. Once the cone is built, you can decorate it. Add small bits of crumpled green tissue paper for bushes, brown sugar for extra texture, or small action figures. Combine 1 ½ cups vinegar, a few drops of liquid red food coloring, and about a tablespoon of dish soap together and pour into the jar. Prepare about ¼ cup of baking soda by wrapping it in a paper towel. You want containment, but don’t over wrap. You can secure the paper towel with a rubber band. Turn on the video camera and drop in the paper towel. The lava and giggles will burst forth.
5. Oil and Water
Oil and water do not mix. Explore this fact by placing water into a clear jar so it is about half full. Add some cooking oil and watch the two liquids separate. Continue by dropping liquid food coloring into the oil. The food coloring will fall through the oil and then burst with color.
6. Cleaning Solutions
There are many different aspects to look at when it comes to cleaning solutions. This is a good project for children to notice differences. Put a couple of drops of different dish soup in separate bowls or cups and then add water to each. Then you can add rusty pennies or nuts and bolts to each bowl. Over time you will be able to see which soup works the best and how they all react.
You will know the science switch has been flipped and the passion in your child ignited because she will ask to do these activities again.
About the Author: Brionna Kennedy is native to the Pacific Northwest, growing up in Washington, then moving down to Oregon for college. She enjoys writing on fashion and business, but any subject will do, she loves to learn about new topics. When she isn’t writing, she lives for the outdoors. Oregon has been the perfect setting to indulge her love of kayaking, rock climbing, and hiking. For this article Brionna learned the importance of using quality products such as the nuts and bolts for these projects.