Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Toddler Chemistry Lab

This is something I've been wanting to try for a long time now. When I was a little girl, I used to play "chemist" in the bathtub, pouring one cup of water into another. I knew Margaret would get a kick out of a chem lab setup, but let's be honest here, I'm the one who really wanted to play with test tubes and petri dishes and pretty colored liquids.

I purchased the test tubes and stand from Amazon. The tubes hold (l-r): vinegar with liquid watercolor, water with liquid watercolor, olive oil, dish soap, straight liquid watercolor.

The petri dishes are also from Amazon. They hold: crushed Alka Seltzer tablets, food coloring,

baking soda, corn starch,

food coloring, (not pictured) bath tablets, and (not pictured)shaving cream.

Tools: whisk from Ikea kitchen play set, droppers, coffee stir sticks, measuring spoons from Dollar Tree. I also offered empty glass baby food jars, not pictured.

Vinegar bottle from Dollar Tree holds white vinegar. Salt and pepper shakers, also from Dollar Tree, hold baking soda and corn starch.

When Margaret woke up from her nap, I told her there was a fun surprise waiting outside. She ran out and got straight to work. She was very focused throughout the activity, and she didn't speak much. I offered some vocab and descriptions, "Whoa, that made it thicken!" "When you stir it quickly, the bubbles grow!" but she was just too into it to respond. She did let out a few "Oh my!"s, though! I didn't guide her as to what would react to what, preferring to let her freely explore and find out for herself.

By pure chance, she chose to add the vinegar to the baking soda first thing!

Water in corn starch

Dish soap with Alka Seltzer

Oil on shaving cream (liquid watercolor on bath color tab beside it)

She broke out the vinegar and poured it into each dish.

She always wants to shake salt into her food at restaurants, so using the shakers was a big treat for her.

Then she moved into the droppers and transferred the liquids between the dishes.

The shaving cream was my favorite.

She said she was measuring the powder like Daddy does when he's cooking.

Then she began transferring the liquids into jars and back into the tubes with droppers and spoons.

She got braver as she went on and started overflowing the dishes with explosions.

This is the last picture I got before my camera battery died, but she kept going until all the solutions were gone.

I was worried this activity would be a once and done sort of thing, but she was enthralled until the very end, a good hour and a half. She likely would have kept at it if the liquids had held out longer. Now that she's familiar with the concept, I'd like to try some extension activities I was dreaming up while she played. There are so many more substances that can be used for this, and now that she knows the properties of the ones we've already used, we can build on that. I'm also planning to do a glowing "mad scientist" extension sometime soon.



autumnlass said...

This is such an amazing idea, Karissa! I'm sharing it with my friends who are parents.

Laura Ingalls wannabe said...

Thanks, Emily. She's still talking about it today, so it's safe to say it was as much of a hit for her as it was for me!

Maxabella said...

I searched and searched but couldn't find an email for you. I wanted to let you know that I'm putting together an article for Kidspot's Village Voices on 'outdoor loving' - one of our 'Collected' features. We'd love to feature your 'Shave cream painting' post http://lauraingallswannabe.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/painting-with-shaving-cream.html

The article (which I am frantically trying to pull together right now!) goes up this afternoon. I don't want you to miss out so I'm going to include you and I just need you to tell me straightaway if you want me to take you out!! I trust that's okay!!


PS - I want to be your kid! You are so creative and you really go the extra mile. I'm going to try this 'chemistry' experiment out on my 3 yo daughter. I think she will love it. x

Laura Ingalls wannabe said...

Thank you so much for the honor, Maxabella. Of course, I don't mind! I'm so happy someone else might enjoy the activity as much as we did.

Eddie said...

I love this! What a great activity!

I'm a fellow Laura Ingalls wannabe and your newest follower. :)

Chrissy @ The Outlaw Mom Blog@ said...

This looks like a superfun set up for your daughter! Thanks for sharing at the Kids Co-op :-)

The Iowa Farmer's Wife said...

Ok, this is just downright fabulous! I really want to do this with my daughter!!! She looks like she had so much fun! Thanks for sharing at The Sunday Showcase!

Unknown said...

We LOVE setting up mini labs! I'm jealous of all your fun supplies. We need to get some petri dishes and test tubes. I LOL'd at you wanting to play with them. ;)

Cindy deRosier said...

I'm the Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts and I wanted to let you know that we have featured your super fun chemistry lab! You can see it here:


If you have other kid-friendly crafts, we'd love it if you would submit them. If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above. Thanks for a wonderful project idea!