Being an Elementary School teacher turned stay-at-home mom, I’ve learned that the best time to teach ANYTHING is when there is interest, and kids are ALWAYS interested in science and how things work. My kids ask me at least 20 times a day about “why” something works, or “how” something happens, or “what if…” scenarios. Childhood is full of curiosity and wonder and lots of excitement for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) activities. But science activities at home do not have to be intimidating or difficult. Here’s some easy and engaging fun science activities you can do at home with your kids.
I received compensation for this post, all opinions are my own.
It seems so often that STEM learning can seem intimidating and that there are barriers to incorporating it in your home, but you’ll be surprised at how easy it actually is. I love to do many of these simple science exploration activities while I’m cooking dinner. It keeps my kids engaged in an activity that they can explore on their own, but I can also be right there to help explain concepts or give ideas for them to try. Bayer Science has been a proponent of science learning outside of school with hands-on activities. Their Making Science Make Sense Initiative has many fun STEM activities that you can do anywhere.
Fun Science Activities You Can Do At Home
All you need is a bowl/bin to put water in, some aluminum foil, and weights (pennies, small toys, paper clips, etc.). Fill your bin halfway with water, and give your child a sheet of aluminum foil to form into a boat. Start adding your weights one by one and see how many your boat will hold. Once your boat sinks, change the shape of your boat and see if you can hold a different amount of weight. We usually end up making a few different boats to see which shape/size/thickness will hold the most weight. It can become quite a competition between my children to see which boat will hold the most.
Coffee Filter Art
Let your child draw a variety of designs with markers onto a coffee filter and then give them a spray bottle full of water to soak the coffee filter with. They’ll be amazed at what the colors in their artwork do when they are wet. If you want to get an even more in-depth experiment, you could use different brands of markers and see the separation of colors within a color (look up chromatography to learn more).
No summer is complete without a good old fashioned s’more roast. What a wonderful science experiment this is! Transferring heat to an object (in this case marshmallow, starburst, chocolate, hot dog, etc.) can make huge changes. Some objects melt, others blister, some might combust (all those accidental blackened marshmallows), or increase in size. Your child can predict what will happen to the object before performing the experiment and discuss the results while enjoying a delicious treat!
Homemade Root Beer
This is a delicious science activity that your kids will be begging to do over and over again. You will have to make a special trip to the grocery store for root beer extract and dry ice, but your kids will love the result, and be amazed at the reactions happening right before their eyes! Root Beer extract usually comes with a recipe printed on the box, but the recipe that I like the best is:
- 1 Gallon water
- 1/2 oz root beer extract (1/4 of the bottle)
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 lbs dry ice (in chunks)
- Mix water, root beer extract and sugar together in a pitcher, bowl, or jug large enough to allow for some bubbling
- add dry ice in chunks (remember, it can burn you so handle with care)
- Let it set for about 30 minutes (although my kids can never wait that long and still love it.)
- add dry ice as needed for carbonation or just for fun!
Glow Stick Fun
Every kid LOVES to play with glow sticks, but have you ever explained HOW they work? The best science learning is in the moment, and with technology today, we can turn almost any activity into a science activity. The other night we were camping (hence the dark and grainy picture) and had some glow sticks to play with for the night. My daughter asked how they glow, and I didn’t know the answer, so we asked my smartphone and it gave us all kinds of information on the chemical reaction happening when you break the brittle inner tube. The entire tent tuned in and was enthralled to learn how one of our favorite nighttime toys really worked.
Ivory Soap Cloud
If you haven’t made a soap cloud out of a bar of Ivory Soap, you are missing out! Grab a bar of this unique soap, place it on a piece of parchment paper in the microwave and cook it for about a minute. It is amazing to watch it start to grow and change shape in a matter of seconds, and when you decide that it has filled up your microwave enough, pull it out and let your child explore the unique texture and shape that a simple bar of soap has created.
I don’t know about your kids, but mine LOVE to play with their food! Snack construction is a simple activity where you take small pieces of food (marshmallows, apple chunks, cheese chunks, gumdrops, fruit snacks, etc.) and use toothpicks to create a variety of structures. 3D shapes are my kids’ favorites to make, but they’ve made bridges, towers, and abstract designs all while munching on their snack.
Science learning has become part of our everyday lives. With technology at our fingertips, we can delve deeper than we ever have before. Don’t let science learning intimidate you!! These are all easy, inexpensive, and fun ways to incorporate science learning in your home. Bayer Science has been working hard to help people incorporate science learning in everyday life for quite some time. Over at Bayer there are all sorts of unique science activities that can be done at home, or really anywhere. I loved their activity on learning how bees pollinate flowers. My kids were asking me how bees help the peaches grow on our peach tree and this was a great tool to help them understand how pollination works.