Five Fun Science Activities For Kids To Do At Home
At The Swaddle, we love science, even if we were always better at writing. One team member remembers a brief, if passionate, obsession with a junior science kit at the age of 7. Another remembers bouts of what her family still calls “kitchen science”: Mom at the stove making dinner, kids at the kitchen table doing homework, and bruised potatoes on the floor — evidence of Newton’s First Law. (Science activities for kids are always messy.)
This interest, rooted in our childhoods, grew through a careful combination of practical application, fun, and force-fed chyawanprash. That last one may not have been as necessary to our healthy development as our parents thought, but practical application and fun are essential. So introduce your kids to the joy of chemistry, physics and geology with these fun science projects for kids — and, 20 years later, rather than writing about how you used to throw vegetables on the floor*, your kids might be discovering a new planet.
Five fun science activities for kids
This is for the kids who love crafts and science. Ever-changing patterns will provide hours of entertainment — and keep kids’ eyes off a screen. This is the most complicated (though still easy) of this list of science projects for kids at home, but it’s also the experiment that keeps giving, as your kid can play with it long after.
How to: Follow this guide, which takes you through all the steps of making a kaleidoscope out of recycled household items and a few basic craft supplies.
The lesson: It’s an intro to basic physics; as light illuminates the beads inside the kaleidoscope, the foil reflects the light, forming infinite colourful and symmetric patterns. If you need a refresher course in light and its refractive properties, in order to explain the project to kids, check here.
So often we watch the bad guys in cartoons and movies succumb to the powers of quicksand — now your kids can experience it for themselves (but without the danger of a slow and watery death).
How to: In this video you’ll learn how to make quicksand using corn flour. Make sure you put on your art overalls and lay some newspapers on the floor. It can get quite messy! You can play around with the colours, too – who said quicksand can’t be blue?
The lesson: Also a physics lesson, or, more precisely, an introduction to continuum mechanics. The mixture you’re making is a non-Newtonian fluid, which means its properties change depending how much stress is put on it. Quicksand is also a non-Newtonian fluid, except force causes it to liquefy, not solidify like the cornmeal mixture — which is why people sink when they think they’re stepping on firm ground. For those not familiar with Newton’s classification of fluids, this should come in handy.
Looking for more craft ideas for kids?
A trip to a remote Pacific island might be too expensive, and a real volcanic eruption too dangerous, for a family holiday. But this at-home volcano is not only totally doable, as long as you’re up for some clean-up afterwards, but also one of childhood’s must-activities for kids.
How to: Baking soda and vinegar form the lava in this flour-made volcano. Look here for instructions.
The lesson: Chemistry is on display, here, as the baking soda and vinegar react when mixed to form carbonic acid. Sounds scary, but it’s not; carbonic acid instantly breaks down into water and carbon dioxide, which causes the fizz and eruption, much like what happens in real volcanoes.
Make your own rainbow
You’ll never have to wait for the monsoon again, once you learn how to make your own rainbow. Also a must-do among science projects for kids, put on some Judy Garland to get in the rainbow mood and start reflecting.
How to: All you need is a pan, water, flashlight, piece of paper and a mirror. Then follow these directions.
The lesson: Another bit of physics, your home rainbow, just like the one you see in the sky, works because of reflection, dispersion, and refraction of light. Water droplets both disperse light and reflect it back. And when that light passes through them, it is refracted, or bent. And because the spectrum bends at different rates, its stunning set of colours is revealed. It’s our favourite on this list of fun science activities for kids. Here’s a more detailed explanation on how rainbows are formed, which you can study and then translate for your kids.
Invisible ink letters
Harry Potter brought invisibility back into fashion with his cloak, but the history of invisible ink goes back 2,000 years to when it was used by ancient Greeks and Romans. Use this to pass secret notes with your kid after the science project is done.
How to: This is the simplest and least messy of these science activities. A few objects from your kitchen, a few minutes to write the message, and voilà! Even the process seems magical.
The lesson: And we’re back to chemistry. Lemon juice is acidic, which means it weakens the paper wherever it makes contact. When the paper is held close to heat, the weakened portions of the paper burn first, rendering the letters visible. If one technique wasn’t enough for your budding spy kids, here are some more with explanations on how they work.
*”I topped that test, by the way. Thanks, Mom!” — Swaddle Team member