Summer holidays can often drag on… six weeks of having the kids at home 24/7 is not every mumma's cup of tea (don't judge – have you tried to keep a child from whining about boredom from 10 am whilst also limiting his screen-time?). Which is why I plan ahead – be it trips or playdates or picnics or some sort of activities. And I make lists of 'creative things' we can do together at home (whether I actually do them is another question, but I feel 'prepared' with my lists at hand!!!).
So one of my lists this year included 'Simple science experiments kids can do at home' with things we have around the house. Little Man is now at an age where he is interested in science and how things happen, and since this is also an educational activity (now that homeschooling has been an integral part of my life), I am all hands in!
Here are a list of tried-and-tested and 'mum-approved' simple science experiments for you and your kids to do at home (note: these are for the age group 6-8 years).
Fill a jam jar with water, cover the top with shaving foam to represent the cloud and then use a pipette (or a straw) to drip water dyed with blue food colouring onto it. As the cloud becomes heavy the rain will begin to fall inside the jar.
— Emma from Emma Reed
Make an egg bounce
All you need for this experiment is a raw egg, white vinegar, golden syrup, food dye, kitchen roll, scales and a bowl.
— Beth from Twinderelmo details the experiment in this post.
60 second home-made lava lamp
You will need 100ml water with some food colouring mixed in, 250 ml oil and 1 effervescent tablet (like Alka Seltzer or a soluble vitamin).
Pour the water mix into a glass, top with oil and leave to separate into two layers. Drop in the tablet and watch the lava flow!
— Emma from Ready Freddie Go
Another way to make a 'lava lamp' is using bicarbonate of soda, cooking oil and vinegar mixed with food colouring. The oil and vinegar do not have the same density. The vinegar is more dense and therefore does not mix and sinks to the bottom. Once at the bottom it reacts with the bicarb and releases carbon dioxide gas bubbles which then rise back up to the surface.
— Emma from Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs
Make your own invisible ink
All you need to make your own invisible ink is orange juice or lemon juice, white paper, a paintbrush or cotton wool bud and a heat source.
Use the juice to write your message on the paper with the paintbrush or cotton wool bud. Wait for it to dry clear. When the kids want to reveal their messages all you need to do is iron over the paper or put it in the oven at about 200 degrees celcius.
— Ella from Typical Mummy
Testing conductivity of materials
We placed a plastic, metal and wooden spoon into a cup of almost boiling water (handles in the cup). Each spoon had a small knob of butter with a small bead inserted. The best conductor of heat melted and dropped it’s bead first!
— Vikki from Family Travel with Ellie
Make a 'skittles rainbow' and learn about the properties of water
This is a simple but delightful experiment that demonstrates the concept of 'water stratification' – all you need is a packet of skittles, a shallow white bowl or plate and some warm water.
Arrange the skittles around the edge of the bowl/plate then pour some warm water into the middle. The skittles started to dissolve and the colours begin to blend travelling towards the centre. Sugar dissolves faster in hot water than it does in cold water because hot water has more energy than cold water. When water is heated, the molecules gain energy and move faster. As they move faster, they come into contact with the sugar more often, causing it to dissolve.
The colours initially remained separate due to water stratification. Each colour created an unique sugary solution which had a different density to the next. This creates a barrier that prevents the colours from mixing.
The worksheet below details the experiment:
— Emma from Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs (images are also the property of Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs)
Jelly bean architecture (STEM crafts)
A bowl of jelly beans, a packet of cocktails sticks and you're ready to go! That's all your child needs to use his STEM knowledge and creativity and build all kinds of amazing things. The details and ideas can be found in this post.
— Jane from Hodge Podge Days
The following three experiments relate to slightly more advanced scientific concepts (for younger children), but the experiments are simple to do. And there's no harm in introducing children to anything that expands their knowledge and sparks their imagination, so give them a go as well!
Water movement explaining capillary action
This STEM science experiment demonstrates water movement against gravity called Capillary Action. All you need is water, clear glasses, kitchen roll and small elastic bands. You can also add food colouring for a bit of fun. The steps of the experiment are detailed here.
Oobleck – make it at home and learn about non-newtonian liquids!
What is Oobleck? Oobleck is a non-newtonian fluid. That means that it acts like a liquid when being poured, but behaves like a solid when a force is acting on it. So you can pour it from one receptacle to another but if you try to pick it up, it turns into a solid and then back into a liquid again. Sounds cool, eh? Not only is it great fun to play with, it teaches your kids a scientific phenomenon too!
Oobleck is the most simple thing to make. You need 1 cup of cornflour/cornstarch and 1.5/2 cups of water – that’s it! You can also add food colouring if you like.
Start with the water in a bowl and add the cornflour a bit at a time. Mix with a spoon at the beginning but once you’ve nearly added 1.5 cups of cornflour you can start mixing with your hands. At this point, start adding it more slowly until you reach a consistency that is liquid and yet solid (you will feel this with your hands. You can keep adding more liquid or cornstarch until it reaches the correct consistency. You’ll know, because it feels really weird!).
— Ella from Typical Mummy
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