Science Activities

Space Activities #2: Juno Straw Rockets

Today’s play-of-the-day, Juno straw rockets, is a space activity from earlier this year but worth doing again. Have you checked out any of the images–and sounds, from Juno? They are amazing but the story of how it got there is pretty amazing too. Not being a rocket scientist, it’s hard for us to wrap our minds around how it all works. But it’s fun to play with making objects move.

One way to make a rocket move is by jet propulsion, that is  using a jet or stream of something. In this activity of Juno straw rockets, the stream is a breath of air. To make these:

“…you will need paper, scissors, tape, and a straw. Cut a sheet of regular, photocopy paper in half along the hamburger fold. (If you fold a paper in half to make 2 long skinny sections, that’s the hotdog fold. If you fold it to make 2 wide rectangles, that’s the hamburger fold.)

straw rocket science funOn one half, kids can trace around a small jar lid to make 2 or 3 circles. With the other half, kids carefully roll the paper around the straw 3 or 4 times. The excess can get cut off and then the paper on the straw attached together with tape. Adult hands might need to start the rolling so the paper stays down. Check to make sure none of the paper is taped to the straw.

straw rocket science funMake sure the paper is at the edge of the straw. If possible, kids cut out the traced circles. Fold a circle in half and place over the end of the straw. Tape it to the paper rolled around the straw. Now, for the fun part. Take a deep breath, close mouth around the other end of the straw and blow. What happens? Did anybody see the straw shooting off the end? (If the rocket doesn’t go, check that kids aren’t holding the paper part on the straw. Fingers only touch the plastic straw, not the rocket.)

straw rocket science funWe made several of these and the kids colored them too. Once, testing it out, a rocket got Little Sister in the knee. After that, she decided the game was to try and blow the rocket far enough to land on a person instead of the floor. She could barely close her mouth for laughing. Big Sister enjoyed trying to make rockets land on various pieces of furniture. There was some adult help to make the rockets, but the play was definitely self-directed.”

This was so simple and fun. Where might your Juno straw rockets orbit today?

Transportation Activities #16: Simple Ramp Science

Cars, trucks, train cars, and other toys get to be part of some science fun and learning with this play-of-the-day. All aboard for some simple ramp science.

simple ramp science

While grownup engineers want to know how to construct the safest, most efficient roads, kid engineers only want to know how to make toy cars go faster. The name of their game is often zoom, zoom. When kids are playing with transportation toys, we can ask them if they have an idea about how to make them go faster. They may suggest some things to try. We can also show them a simple ramp.simple ramp science

To make a ramp, we used a piece of cardboard from a box in the recycling and an upside down plastic tub. Big Sister soon figured out that the ramp made the Duplo car go faster. She added a box from a puzzle on the shelf to raise it even more. She spent a good chunk of time playing with toys and the ramp. Baby Sister wanted to push the cars but it was too much work to push them up the hill so she used the piece of cardboard to be a flat road.

simple ramp science

We can introduce a new idea into children’s play and then let them explore on their own. Simple ramp science is an idea kids can use in their play and build on. Not all kids will be ready, just as Baby Sister wasn’t, but her older sister figured it out. She was interested enough to test her thoughts about ways to make the cars go even faster.

simple ramp science

She likes the animals that fit on the Duplo cars so she added these too. This independent questioning and investigation is only one of the purposes of children’s play. It’s critically important as parents, caregivers, and teachers, that we make sure kids have time and space to play.

simple ramp science

Will there be time and space for some simple ramp science play for your child today?

Transportation Activities #14: Father’s Day Paper Airplane

Kids love to make something for their dads. This Father’s Day paper airplane combines a simple gift with an invitation to spend time together and play.

(The following instructions are from an earlier blog post.)

making paper airplanes step 1-2

1. Fold an ordinary piece of printer paper in half, the long way or hotdog fold. Open it back up.

2. Fold the top outside corner down so it touches the center line and do the same for the other side.
making paper airplanes step 3


3. Do the same action again of folding each side to the middle. It sort of looks like a skinny mountain, the kind that kids draw.
making paper airplanes step 4


4. Fold the two sides together. Now it looks like the wedge that goes under a door to hold it open.
making paper airplanes step 5


5. Hold the point with one hand, and with the other bend that folded edge over to line up with the center fold. This part is a bit trickier.
making paper airplanes step 6


6. Flip over and do the same for the other side.
making paper airplanes step 7


7. Pinch on the bottom center fold and the wings open up. This kind is called a dart and it’s ready to fly.

Father's Day paper airplaneWith some crayons and markers kids can decorate their Father’s Day paper airplane.  It’s much easier to do the drawing and coloring before folding. Some x’s and o’s for hugs and kisses and some hearts send the message to dads they are loved. Or kids might want to draw something dad really likes.

Father's Day playWho can resist sending a paper airplane flying around the room or the yard? When a dad does this, a child’s heart takes flight too. Kids have made something dad is holding in his hand and using.

After dad has a turn, kids want a turn next and before you can count to 10, play happens, in one form or another. What better way can there be to celebrate Father’s Day than time together and the enjoyment of each other as we play?

Transportation Play Activities #7: Boat Float or Sink

This boat float or sink play-of-the-day is brought to you by World Ocean’s Day. The kitchen sink or a container of water will be your child’s ocean. Kids are natural scientists, exploring constantly. This boat float or sink play is a voyage of discovery, fun, and learning that happens right at home, at the kitchen … Continue reading Transportation Play Activities #7: Boat Float or Sink

Transportation Play Activities #5: Simple Straw Rockets

Science can be easy and still amazing. These simple straw rockets are super fun and use the most ordinary of materials. The results are exciting. To make a straw rocket, you will need paper, scissors, tape, and a straw. Cut a sheet of regular, photocopy paper in any color. Fold it in half the short, … Continue reading Transportation Play Activities #5: Simple Straw Rockets

Bubble Fun and Learning #15: Apple Bubble Science Activity

Although not as dramatic as Newton’s apple, this apple bubble science activity is sure fun! Kids like to play with food. After experimenting, they can eat. This activity is from Carla’s Bubble Science with Apples post at Preschool Powol Packets. I’ve seen a few other bubble activities using apples, but this is the only one … Continue reading Bubble Fun and Learning #15: Apple Bubble Science Activity

Play – Learn with Bubbles #6: Baking Soda and Vinegar Science Fun

Bubble, Bubble, Fizz, and Pop Soap and water aren’t the only ingredients for bubbles. Another way is baking soda and vinegar science fun. Just a bit of makes lots of fun and learning. Scoop some baking soda into a small bowl, fairly flat container, or even a clear plastic wine glass. Set this in another … Continue reading Play – Learn with Bubbles #6: Baking Soda and Vinegar Science Fun

Planting Seeds Activity Your Child Can Do

The ground and weather may not be warm enough for outside planting, but how about planting inside? Here’s a planting seeds activity your child can do. Sunflowers, beans, and corn are easy seeds to plant, plus they grow quickly too. Lima beans are nice big seeds. While planting seeds in soil is much easier for … Continue reading Planting Seeds Activity Your Child Can Do

Star Wars Activities for Kids: Exploding Stars

Star Wars activities for kids do not need expensive toys or high-tech materials. Your kitchen cupboards likely have some items you can use for some science fun about stars. Yesterday, we looked at some pictures on the computer about stars and star dust. In one, there were gazillions of little white specks covering a dark … Continue reading Star Wars Activities for Kids: Exploding Stars