simple science activities

Space Activities #21: Baking Soda Vinegar Rockets and Water Rocket Fun

Two of the most ordinary ingredients and a small plastic container combine for some science fun. Have you tried baking soda vinegar rockets? This activity is best done outside. Once the rocket is fueled up, stand out of the way. It shoots off with quite a pop and can hurt if it hits a body part.

baking soda vinegar rockets

Scrounge through your junk drawer for a small plastic film canister, the kind where the lid fits inside. Pour some vinegar in a dish. Your child can measure out three spoons of vinegar and carefully pour them into the film canister. Spread out one or two squares of toilet paper. Using a dry spoon, have your child scoop out two spoons of baking soda and mound in on the toilet paper. Fold this up to make a small packet. Have the lid right close. Kids can put the paper and soda ball into the container and adults quickly snap on lid. Turn it over, place on the ground, and step back. Start counting down.

Likely, the rocket will shoot up into the air with a loud pop before you even get to the words blast off. Watch where the plastic container lands so you can do it again. Proportions do not have to be exact, but generally a bit more vinegar than soda.

Here’s a link to a pdf about the Film Canister Rocket from PBS Kids. Kids can draw and color on a piece of paper and wrap it around to make a rocket. There are several other variations on the Internet to try too.

The kids liked hunting for the film canister. It usually wasn’t too far away. After doing this simple rocket science for awhile, we were hot and sticky. Fortunately, we had another kind of rocket for cooling down—a water rocket.

water rocket funThe water rocket is a sort of sprinkler. A switch with a button to push attaches to the garden hose. The switch has a short tube that feeds into a plastic rocket. When a foot presses on the button, the water from the garden hose blasts into the rocket and sends it up in the air. The rocket then dumps a small amount of water onto delighted kids. There wasn’t a lot of water at a time, but somehow the kids were soaked quite quickly.

Two kinds of blasts offs, baking soda vinegar rockets and a water one, made for great fun. Is there some rocket play in your child’s day?

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 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.

pirate boat activities for kidssKids 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 sink or with another large pan of water.

The recycling box at home likely holds a treasure of things to use, such as styrofoam containers, corks, plastic and metal lids, popsicle sticks, applesauce or yogurt cups, even a small egg carton. Include some items to put in the boats, like rocks, buttons, or beads. With these materials kids can float some boats, or will they sink?

pirate activities for kidsEveryday children are trying and figuring out how things work around them. This is what scientists do. We can extend their play by talking with them about what they see happening and asking questions.

What way do they have to put things together to make a boat that floats? Can it go in the water upside down or sideways? What happens then? How about if there’s something in the boat?  How much is too glub, glub, glub, much? By asking questions and inviting kids to explain to us, they attach words to what they are discovering.

This activity kept Big Sister busy for a long time as she tried many different combinations. Little Sister is pretty good about not putting things in her mouth and loves water play too. She mostly liked to just put things in the water and wasn’t really interested in making boats.

pirate activities for kidsKids will play at their own level and investigate what interests them. Older kids may want to create their own boats using recycled materials or even lego. Plasticine will also work to make boats, but needs to get dried off so it doesn’t get gooey.

Some of us are quite lucky–except when the ferry is late or we miss it–and get to take a boat often but kids can take their own boats anytime without leaving home. Could boat float or sink be part of your child’s play today?

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

Kids Play with Anything #6: Play with Baking Soda and Vinegar

Here’s a secret formula proving kids play with anything: Play with Baking Soda and Vinegar = Explosions of Fun. Sometimes called how to make volcanos. Baking soda and vinegar cannot be considered toys but they combine for some amazing play. They are inexpensive and affordable, but with all these ideas, you might need the extra … Continue reading Kids Play with Anything #6: Play with Baking Soda and Vinegar

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

October Alphabet: W is for Wands & Science Magic for Kids

October is a fun time of the year for science magic for kids. There are some easy and simple science tricks that kids can do with ordinary household items. With a wave of a wand or a magic spell, wizards can make things float and sink. Partially fill a large bowl or container that you … Continue reading October Alphabet: W is for Wands & Science Magic for Kids

Colors of Childhood: Color and Fizzy Science Fun

Colors can be used in so many different play activities, not just art. A few drops of food coloring and water made for some color and fizzy science fun. Set out some small containers with a bit of vinegar in each, and add a few drops of food coloring. The darker the solution the easier … Continue reading Colors of Childhood: Color and Fizzy Science Fun

Colors of Childhood: Science and Color Fun

Last week, when we made rainbow cookies, we noticed the color came off when mixing so this week we tried an experiment for some science and color fun. While the cookies tasted wonderful, we didn’t have the bright colors to make rainbows. We wanted to see what would happen to the colors if they weren’t … Continue reading Colors of Childhood: Science and Color Fun