I recently had a conversation with a parent who was struggling to find a way to stop some tricky behaviour. This behaviour, whilst innocent to the child, could have had serious consequences over time. Mum tried to explain this to her 4yr old boy, who decided this sounded exciting and continued what he was doing.
Help me! She cried, what is a logical consequence?
At 4yrs old, his behaviour to me, is crying out for adventure and experimentation, so we explored some fun activities that could have this need met.
After all……ALL behaviour is simply communication, communicating an unmet need.
My answer then, was SCIENCE!
We don’t need to teach our kids to love science, they already do…we need to help keep it alive. The dropped egg on the floor is PHYSICS, and perhaps even BIOLOGY for the slightly older children, and then there’s a lesson in cleaning up, grab 2 cloths and ask them to help clean it up, not as punishment….just, that’s what we do after we make a mess, and life is messy (a life really lived is anyway)
Cooking is science, the reaction 2 or more substances create is very sciency (I’m not a scientist in case you didn’t notice haha). Show them how flour and milk (powder and liquid) mix together to make a dough (solid) and when we bake it, it comes out firm, and hopefully fluffy if you use the right flour. If my good friend Xenia reads this, she’ll have a laugh, after watching the outcome of scones using plain flour (oops), they don’t quite look or taste right, but it was a good (accidental) experiment and a good laugh.
So many everyday things that we can turn in to fun experiments or learning opportunities.
But I want to share some out of the ordinary ones! Ones that we might even have the items around the house for right now (or easily purchased from the supermarket). Let’s get creative.
SINK OR FLOAT
What we need
- Something we can fill with water, a sink, a bucket or a pool would all work.
- Items from around the house that are ok to get wet.
Put all the items you wish to use in to a separate bucket, it pays to have a few and be prepared for your child to go in search of more. Pro tip – take some out of the water every so often and put them back in the tub (only really works for younger kids) or do the activity outside where they can find sticks, rocks or flowers rather than things we don’t want in the water (like your phone – yes this happened to me a few years back with my now adult son – “phone needs a wash mummy” – in the sink of soapy dish water).
The idea behind this game is kind of obvious, will each item sink or float. Depending on your child, you may be able to get them to tell you what their prediction is before each item goes in. If they are a little older, they might even get why some items sink or float.
BALLOON POWERED CAR
What we need
- A balloon
- A straw
- A toy car (this can be one from the toy box, or you can make your own if you feel creative – I’ll share some pics of some homemade creations)
Slide the straw about 1 inch into the balloon and use the tape to wrap around and seal the balloon over the straw. Check to see if you can blow up the balloon by blowing through the straw (this tests to make sure a good seal was made with the tape)
Once you have a balloon and straw that you can blow up, you need to tape it to the top of your car, tape it down well, ensuring you don’t crush the straw. Make sure the straw is facing the back of the car, unless you want it to go backwards.
Now we can blow up the balloon, holding a finger over the end of the straw between blows, and then put it on the floor and watch it go.
PATTERNS WITH SKITTLES
What you need
- 2 x Bowls or deep plates (needs to be pretty flat to be effective)
- Skittles (all different colours)
- Cold water and warm water (keep water at a safe temperature for touching)
Lay the skittles out in various patterns on the dishes (this is where you can get really creative - use shapes or patterns) and pour the cold water over the first dish, watch how the colour slowly seeps out to start making a pattern, then pour the warm water over the second dish to watch what happens.
TORNADO IN A BOTTLE
What you need
- 2 x soft drink bottled (after you have drunk the soft drink). Can be any bottle, but needs to be cylindrical and smooth.
- Water to half fill one bottle
- Tape (electrical tape works best)
- Optional – food dye or glitter for cool effects
Fill one of the bottles approximately halfway and add any colour etc. now.
Dry the top of the bottles and holding the empty one upside down, tape the tops together to form a seal.
First time around, just tip the filled bottle upside down and watch the mixture drain in to the other bottle, pretty cool to watch, then when you turn it back over, swirl the bottle in a circular motion (like you’re using it to stir something) and watch the magic tornado as it flows through, back in to the other bottle.
What you need
- 10ml dishwashing liquid
- 100ml warm water
- 400ml white vinegar
- Food colouring
- ½ cup baking soda mixed with ½ cup water (combines to make a sloppy mixture)
- Empty 2lt bottle (a wide opening is ideal – such as a milk or juice bottle)
- Spoon or paddle pop stick
- Optional, but recommended – safety goggles
I highly recommend this activity be done outside as it can (and does) get messy.
In the empty bottle, pour the dishwashing liquid, warm water, vinegar and 2-3 drops of food colouring and gently swirl the bottle to combine.
Stir the baking soda and water mixture and pour into the bottle. This needs to be done as quickly as possible, and then stand back and watch it erupt (it’s ok if you don’t get all the mixture in, just get as much as you can before it starts to rise)
If you want to get a little more creative with this one, try using sand or playdough to form the shape of a volcano and place a bowl or bottle (whatever you have on hand - preferably plastic so it doesn't matter if it's dropped) and make it look more like the real thing.
Know any more fun experiments?
Please share a link in the comments to any other ideas so others can build on their play list. I’d also love to know how you go with these ones, feel free to share stories or pics (or any improvements to the instructions if they didn’t quite work as expected)
You are really only limited by your imagination with these fun activities.
Have fun experimenting!