Hopping Corn and Cranberries

Just in time for Thanksgiving, I’ve got a fun quickie experiment to do with your cranberries and some popcorn kernels.  If you’ve tried my Dancing Raisins experiment, then this will be familiar.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Dried Cranberries
  • Popcorn kernels
  • Soda water, Ginger Ale, Sprite, Club Soda, sparkling water or whatever clear bubbly (kid-friendly!) you have at home
  • clear jars or cups

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I asked the tots to touch the dried cranberries and the popcorn kernels and describe how each felt.

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For younger tots, I prompted them with simple questions such as:

  • Is it soft or hard?
  • Is it smooth or bumpy?
  • Is it sticky or slimy?

Fill one cup with water and one cup with soda (we used diet Ginger Ale because that’s what we have at home), but any clear bubbly soda should work fine.

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We also compared the difference between the soda and the water.  They immediately noted the difference in color and the presence of bubbles in the soda.

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Next, I asked them what they thought would happen if the cranberries were added to the water? They all thought they would sink to the bottom.  After making their predictions, they added the cranberries to test their theories.

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Yes, the cranberries sunk to the bottom.

I then asked them what they thought would happen if the cranberries were put in the soda.  They again thought that they would sink.

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So they did sink… at first.  But then they “hopped” to the surface… and then dropped again… and rose again.

We repeated the same steps with the popcorn kernels.  When we added the popcorn kernels to the water, they sank as well.

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Then we added them to the Ginger Ale.  And discovered that the popcorn kernels did the same thing!

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It was mesmerizing to watch them “hop” up and down.

We will definitely be trying this again with several other sodas and sparkling water!  You can also make a bubbly solution with vinegar and baking soda as well.

Another extension/variation of this experiment is to try out different items, other than cranberries that might behave in a similar way, such as raisins, dried macaroni, etc…  Search your pantry.  The options are endless.  Happy Hopping!

Also, try my Dancing Raisins experiment for a different twist to a similar activity!

The Science behind the Activity:

This is a great experiment demonstrating sinking and floating.  Cranberries are denser than the liquid so they initially sink when you put them in.  As the carbon dioxide gas bubbles attach to the surface of the cranberries, they decrease the density of the cranberry and the cranberry floats to the top (dances and shimmies its way to the top!) At the surface of the liquid, the gas bubbles pop and the cranberry sinks back down.  The process keeps repeating until there isn’t enough carbon dioxide left to raise the cranberries.  The same holds true for the popcorn kernels.

 

Inflating Spooky Ghost!

You have to try this super easy experiment that will WOW! your littlest ones.  Using my favorite 2 ingredients and a balloon, this one is great for Halloween parties or just for fun!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Funnel
  • Empty water bottle
  • White balloon
  • Black sharpie

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Inflate the balloon slightly and draw a ghost face with the sharpie

img_9084Here’s my attempt at a spooky face

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Let the air out.  Place the funnel into the opening of the balloon and add about 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda into the balloon.

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Place the balloon aside and add some vinegar to the empty water bottle

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Place the balloon over the mouth of the water bottle taking care that none of the baking soda (the secret) drops into the vinegar below…yet.

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Now, the fun begins!  Turn the balloon upside down so it dumps the baking soda into the bottle and watch!

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The kiddos LOVED it!!!  Such an easy and simple little experiment to set up!

To see my other “fizzing” experiments (perfect for any holiday), click on any of the following links:

Science behind the Activity:

This is a twist on the classic baking soda and vinegar experiment.  Baking soda is a base and vinegar is an acid.  When combined, they release carbon dioxide gas (the bubbles).  Since the gas is trapped by the balloon, the balloon inflates and reveals the ghost!

 

 

 

 

Monster Mud!

With Halloween around the corner, I decided we needed something besides Pumpkins to spook up our science class.  So we finally made Ghost Mud, except ours turned out to be more like Monster Mud!  Either way, it was goopy fun with the most surprising of materials

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Bar of white soap (we used Ivory soap since we used it in our Soap Souffle experiment)
  • Roll of toilet paper (yup, you read that right!)
  • Water
  • Bin or tray to play with
  • Googly-eyes (optional but super fun!)
  • Old Cheese grater

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First, grate the bar of soap.  I did this for the little tots in my class because I did not want any little fingers getting sliced!)

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While the adult grates the soap, your little one can shred the toilet paper.  This is a great fine motor activity.  (Just don’t blame me if they start shredding the toilet paper in your bathroom!) We used about 1/2 roll.img_8892

Add some water to the soap and mix with your hands.  For a bar of soap, I used about 3/4 cup of water.

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Now comes the fun part!  Add the soapy mixture to the shredded toilet paper.  Mix it up!  I promise it will turn into a fun mold-able “mud”.  Adjust the consistency by adding more paper or water.

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Some tots liked smooshing and squishing it.  Others wouldn’t go near it!  For the littlest ones, this sort of sensory messy play is vital, BUT, it takes a lot of exposure for some tots to get used to it.  Don’t worry.  Just keep exposing them without forcing them.  They will come around when they see how fun it is!

We also added lots of monster eyes to make them look like ghosts but I think they turned out more “monster-like” so I’m calling it Monster Mud.

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Such an easy activity to set up with some surprising materials!  And because you’re playing with soap, you just have to rinse with water at the end!  Easy clean up!

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To see my other Halloween science experiments and activities, click on any of the following links:

Extension:

A great way to do TWO science experiments in one, is to try my Soap Souffle experiment first and then use the same soap to make Monster Mud! It will save you the step of grating the soap and you get learn even more science!  Win-Win!!

Science behind the Activity:

While not a science experiment in the strictest sense, mixing substances together to get a new substance is definitely a great “cause-and-effect” science activity.  There is great fine motor skill development with shredding toilet paper.  And of course, this activity encourages sensory and messy play, which is an important part of exploration and investigation at this young age.

Here’s where I got my spooky, muddy idea from: http://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2013/09/ghost-mud-play-recipe.html

 

 

 

 

Fizzing Jupiter

For those of you who follow my activities, you know how much I love my baking soda and vinegar experiments.  To be fair, the tots and my littlest superhero LOVE baking soda and vinegar so it’s not ALL about me🙂

This one is a simple and easy addition to your space theme.  I call them Jupiters (even though my color mixing wasn’t as successful as Jupiter) but you could make them any planet or leave them white for the moon.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Baking Soda
  • Water
  • Measuring cup
  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Tray for drying the rocks
  • Vinegar
  • Black or purple food coloring (optional – but colors make everything more fun!!)

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To make the planet:

Combine 2 cups of baking soda and 1/2 cup of water (add the desired color to the water) in a large bowl.  To make the the Jupiters, I split this into two bowls, one with red (looked orange) and one with yellow.

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Then I mixed both together to get an orange-yellow swirly Jupiter look.  Kind of.

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Using your hands, take a handful and roll into a ball.  If it’s too dry, it won’t stay together, if it’s too watery, it will melt into a sloppy puddle.  Add water or more baking soda to adjust the consistency.  

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Let them dry overnight.  I placed mine in a plastic container and put them in the freezer to harden. 

The next morning, the planets were hard.    Note: this recipe will yield about 10 balls.

To explore:

I gave each little one a “Jupiter” and a cup with vinegar that had black food coloring and some silver glitter (“Starry Space Juice” is what I called it!).

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The tots definitely know what to do with the dropper and the vinegar.  Space juice was added to the planets for some fizzy fun!

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Such an easy and simple little experiment to set up!

To see my other “fizzing” experiments (perfect for any holiday), click on any of the following links:

Science behind the Activity:

This is a twist on the classic baking soda and vinegar experiment.  Baking soda is a base and vinegar is an acid.  When combined, they release carbon dioxide gas (the bubbles).  The fizzing and bubbles are just way too much fun for the kiddos!

Here’s where I got my fizzy idea from: http://fun-a-day.com/fun-science-space-theme-fizzing-planets/

 

 

 

 

Galaxy in a Bottle

So this isn’t really a science experiment but I LOVE discovery bottles and this one is so pretty!  My older boys really enjoyed making this and it led to discussions about supernovas and galaxies and nebulae.  The tots in my class enjoyed the pretty swirly colors and filling the bottles.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • cotton balls – almost a bag per bottle
  • empty bottles (I used old gatorade bottles)
  • paint in “galaxy colors” (we used metallic acrylic paint in purple, silver and blue)
  • glitter
  • straw (or something to push the cotton balls into the bottle)
  • cups

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First, create the colors of your galaxy by adding some paint to water.  We used metallic blue, metallic purple and metallic gray.  We love how swirly the water looked!

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Next we stuffed our bottle about 1/2 full with cotton balls.  (It looks prettier if you shred the cotton balls, but my boys and the tiny tots don’y have the patience for that!)  We used a straw to help push the balls into the bottle.

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Next, add your first color to the bottle.

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Add some glitter.  (We probably should have added more)

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We noticed that as soon as the water was added, the cotton squished into a smaller layer.  So add lots of cotton! Like we did on the second layer.

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We again added a new color to the cotton.  And more glitter.  Make sure to push the cotton down as tight as you can.

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We repeated it again with the last layer.

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Then we added the lid and shook it a bit.

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The puffy cotton looks like the “clouds” of space debris you see when you look at pictures of galaxies, nebulae, supernovas, etc… The glitter looks like stars in the night sky…

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While we were making these bottles, my boys asked me what a galaxy was and what a supernova was.  It was a great art activity to open up discussion about outer space.  While not a real science experiment, it sparked a science conversation.  It my book, that’s success!

For more details and to see where I got this simple, but fantastic idea from, please visit:  http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/78341/the-galaxy-in-a-bottle.

 

Pie Plate Model of Earth’s Orbit

**Updated! 10/18/2016**

I have been meaning to to do a space themed lesson for a long time but was struggling to get some science activities (not just crafts) for the youngest set to do.  I finally “landed” on this one and it was fantastic fun and so easy to do!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Foil pie plates (must be round)
  • Black construction paper
  • Orange construction paper
  • Star stickers
  • Blue Marble (or blue-green, to represent Earth)
  • Glue
  • Scissors

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Since the tots in my class are pretty young, I measured out the bottom of the pie plates and cut out black circles for them.  I also cut out the orange circles to represent the sun.  For preschoolers and kindergarteners, I would definitely trace the circles for them but have them cut them out on their own.  For older kids, they can trace and cut on their own.

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Glue the large black circle to the inside of the plate.  This represents space.

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Next, glue the orange circle to the center of the plate.  This represents the sun.

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Place some stickers all over the black paper to represent the starts in the sky. As was noted by a fellow science teacher, there are no stars in our solar system except for the Sun.  To make this activity scientifically accurate, you might just want to skip the star stickers.

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Lastly, add the blue marble and spin the plate so that the marble spins around the edge of the plate, representing how the Earth spins around the sun.

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That’s it!  It’s a craft, but there’s plenty of learning (and fun) while spinning the plate.

The Science behind the Activity:

There are plenty of models of the solar system but I love how this is so simple for young kids to understand that the Earth is moving around the sun and not the other way around.  This same project could be done with the Earth in the center and a white marble to symbolize the moon spinning around the Earth.

To see where I got this simple but fantastic idea from, please visit: http://www.pinkstripeysocks.com/2015/05/preschool-science-solar-system-activity.html

*My only note on the original author’s post is that scientifically it’s not accurate to place 8 marbles in the pie dish to represent all 8 planets orbiting the sun.  The sizes of the orbits are very different and the planets would be showing that they are crashing into each other.  But her idea is great for showing one orbit at a time.*

**Updated: Skip the star stickers if you want to be scientifically accurate.  There are no stars in our solar system.  The only star in our solar system is our sun.**

Exploring the 5 Senses with Apples

Everyone seems to be in a frenzy over apples in the Fall.  While everyone else is baking and drinking apple cider, I decided to use them for some fun Fall Science.  My middle son just studied the 5 senses in his kindergarten class and that got me thinking… So here’s my apple version of the 5 senses!  No fancy stuff needed.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Apples (any variety will do, but a few different ones to investigate is great)
  • knife
  • apple corer (optional)
  • magnifying glass (optional but they are fun to use)

Our first Sense is the sense of Sight.  We talked about our eyes.  Where are they on our face?  How many eyes do we have? What do we use them for?

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Then we used our eyes to look at the different apples.  What shape are they?  What colors are the apples?  How many do we have?

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We also used our magnifying glass to take a closer look.

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Next we discussed our sense of Touch.  We talked about our fingers and hands and what we use them for.  We counted our fingers too! (See how I sneak math into my science!) What do the apples feel like?  Are they soft or hard?  Are they smooth or bumpy?  Are they heavy or light?

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Moving on to the next one, we talked about our sense of Smell.  What do we use to smell with?  Where is our nose?  How many noses do we have?

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Then we smelled the apples with our noses.  Sniff Sniff!

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The fourth sense uses our ears to Hear.  We pointed to our ears.  How many ears do we have?  What are they used for?

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Using the apple slicer, we listened to the sound of the apple being sliced. Crunch!

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We grabbed a slice and touched it and discussed how the inside of an apple feels different from the outside.  It felt wet and sticky.  We touched the core and sliced it open and investigated the seeds inside with our sense of touch and sense of sight.

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Of course, the magnifying glass was necessary to get a closer look!

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We also smelled the inside of the apple and it smelled sweet.

Lastly, we used our fifth sense, taste, when we licked our apple and then bit into it!  YUM!!

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What a fun way to use apples to learn about the five senses!

During October, you might also want to try using the 5 senses to investigate pumpkins!

The Science behind the Activity:

This is a simple observation activity for the youngest scientists as well as older ones.  Identifying the 5 senses and the body parts that are used for each is perfect for toddlers and young preschoolers.  Comparing the inside and the outside of the apple using the senses is also a great observation activity as well.  Connecting the 5 senses to a food that they are familiar with is a great way to connect everyday life to science.  So much learning from a simple activity!

For more apple science activities, try: