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

 

 

 

 

Elephant Toothpaste

Have you ever made elephant toothpaste?  It is super fun to watch and and play with.  I can’t believe as a chemistry teacher I have never done this experiment before… until now.  It’s pretty easy to do, though the materials may not already be in your home, they are easy to acquire.

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

  • A large dish or foil pan
  • Dry Active Yeast packet
  • Warm water
  • Tall vase, carafe or long neck bottle
  • Measuring cup and measuring spoon
  • Dish soap
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (at least 6% available for about $3 at a Beauty Supply Store)

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I had the tots first touch the yeast.  It looked like sand to them.  They also noticed that it had a strong odor.

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Next, we measured 1 Tbsp of dry active yeast and added it to about 3Tbsp of warm water.

IMG_7266We mixed it and put it aside for a few minutes.  This does not have to be exact.

Next we used a tall clear glass bottle (a clear wine bottle or carafe is actually perfect!) and added about 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide.  Add some food coloring if you want to.

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I recommend using glass as the reaction can get quite warm.  Add a few good squirts of dish soap.

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Be sure not to use one with the antibacterial beads.  The beads will interfere with the reaction.  Give it a good swirl.

Place the bottle in the large dish pan.   I added the yeast to the bottle and watched the magic unfold!

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In class, I then had the tots sit away a bit and put their safety glasses on. There was plenty of oohing and aahing!  The kids thought it was great, especially after our discussion of whether elephants need toothpaste:)

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After the reaction ended, I invited the children to touch the foam.

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It was warm and bubbly and soft.  We also touched the bottle and it was very warm as well.  (Just make sure you touch the foam and the bottle first to make sure it isn’t too hot for the kiddos).

The Science Behind the Activity:

When the yeast mixture is added to the hydrogen peroxide, it helps to facilitate a decomposition reaction (a reaction that breaks a chemical compound down).  In this case, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is being broken into water (H2O) and oxygen gas (O2).   The yeast acts as a catalyst (kind of like a chemical “helper”) to make the reaction go faster.  Because of the addition of dish soap, the oxygen gas gets trapped in the soap as bubbles and creates the foam that you see.  This reaction also releases heat which makes it an example of an exothermic reaction.  So much chemistry in this fun little demonstration.

Extension: 

  • Test out different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide.  How does concentration affect the rate of the reaction?
  • Test whether the yeast needs to be mixed with water first or if it can be added directly
  • Test whether the amount of yeast added affects the reaction
  • What happens if the yeast is added to cold water?  Does temperature matter?

For more details and where I got my idea from, please visit: https://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/elephants-toothpaste/

GAK!

A rite of passage of childhood is definitely making some GAK!  Easy to make at home and the kids love squishing and stretching it around!  For those who are unfamiliar, GAK is a little different in consistency than slime and is made with Borax instead of starch.  Liquid starch is hard to find in the regular stores around here so GAK it is!  And it’s fun!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Container for mixing (we used an old yogurt container)
  • Borax
  • Food coloring (We use liquid watercolors instead)
  • 4 oz Glue bottle (I’ve used Elmer’s and the one from the dollar store.  They all work!)
  • Warm water (not hot!)
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoon
  • Spoon for mixingIMG_7452

Empty the entire bottle of glue into your container.

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Add some food color if you want.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of borax to 1/4 cup of warm water.  Mix well and add to the glue mixture.

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You will see that the mixture will start to blob up.  Mix it up and you will start seeing the GAK firm up.  It may look watery at first.  That’s ok.  The more you work with it, the more firm it gets.

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If there is any liquid left, just pour it out (in the garbage, not the sink!)

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See how stretchy it is!

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The tots enjoyed playing with it!

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They made hand prints with it too!  So much fun!

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We placed the GAK into a baggie to take home.  I actually have my son’s GAK from 6 months ago and it’s still good!

The Science behind the Activity:

Here’s my simplistic explanation: Glue is made of a polymer which is a long chain of the same molecules all linked up together.  When you add the borax, it links up with the molecules to form a more solid substance, hence the GAK.  A common analogy is if you have a chain with repeating metal links, that can be considered as the polymer.  When you add a bunch of magnets (borax) they all clump up together like the GAK or Silly Putty.

Follow this link to see where I got the idea from and more details about the science behind the experiment: http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/glue-borax-gak/

 

 

Observing Pumpkins using our 5 Senses

It’s Pumpkin Season and there is so much fun learning to be had with pumpkins.   Before we began experimenting with our pumpkins, we decided to investigate our pumpkins using our 5 senses.  So before you get busy carving your pumpkin, take some time to explore and investigate your soon-to-be Jack O Lantern

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Pumpkin (we used the small decorative ones with the Tiny Tots)
  • Pumpkin carving tool
  • Metal spoon or scooper
  • Tweezers
  • Magnifying Glass
  • tray/plate

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We first held the pumpkins in our hands and felt it from the outside using our hands (Sense of Touch).  Ask them questions to guide their observations: Is it hard or soft?  Bumpy or smooth? What about the stem?  Using their eyes (Sense of Sight), ask them what color it is and what shape it looks like.

Then I cut the top off and asked them to listen (Sense of Hearing) to the sound of the carving knife.  The older kids thought it sounded like a saw.

Then I had them lift it out themselves to see what was inside

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Using our Sense of Sight and Touch, I asked the kids to feel the inside of the pumpkin.  The pulp and seeds definitely were a deterrent for some of the youngest toddlers.

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This toddler won’t touch the seeds.

I asked them if they could use their Sense of Smell to describe what they smelled.  Most said the pumpkins were “stinky”.

I gave the Tiny Tots spoons and tweezers to scrape the seeds and pulp out.  Then I asked them to touch the seeds.  How does it feel?  Most said “slimy” and “slippery” and “gooey”.

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Magnifying glasses are fun to observe things with so I handed them small and big magnifying glasses.

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For older kids, I had them compare difference between the seeds of the white pumpkins and the orange ones.

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I also asked them to predict how many seeds might be in each pumpkin and asked them to count to see how good their guess was.  My superheroes kept losing count and eventually gave up 🙂

Lastly, the Sense of Taste was applied to the pumpkin seeds after we roasted them in the oven.  I asked my boys to hear the crunch of the seeds and the taste of the seeds.  Neither of them were fans of the roasted seeds.  Great, that means more for me!

Once you have hollowed out the pumpkins, try the Pumpkin Volcanoes experiment!

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 while using tweezers and spoons and observing is great for preschoolers and young elementary students.  So much learning from a simple activity!

Homemade Bouncy Balls

My boys LOVE those bouncy balls that they get in goodie bags.  We have a million of them around our house (OK, maybe not a million, but they are always around somewhere around the house).  My littlest one loves crawling after them.

I’ve seen a lot of posts about making your own so we decided to try it.  Almost the same ingredients that we used to make GAK.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Two containers for mixing (we used a plastic cup and an old yogurt container)
  • Borax
  • Food coloring
  • Cornstarch
  • Glue
  • Warm water
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoon
  • Spoon for mixing

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Add 1 Tbsp of cornstarch and 1/2 tsp borax to the cup.

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Add 1/4 cup warm water to the cornstarch/borax mixture.  Mix well.

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Add 1 Tbsp of liquid glue to a small container.  Add some food coloring to it if you’d like.  My superheroes always add color because, hey, colors make everything more fun!  Mix well with a spoon.  It will be sticky.

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Slowly add the cornstarch/borax/water mix to the glue. Mix until a blob forms.

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When it gets too hard to mix and the “blob” is no longer holding any more liquid, take it into your hands and roll it between your palms until is gets firm and circular.

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The superheroes compared it to a real bouncy ball they already had at home.

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They had fun bouncing it around and comparing the real bouncy ball to the one we made.

I will admit, it definitely does not bounce as well as the real ball and after a few bounces, it did flatten out a bit.  We just rolled it back up between our palms and it was round again and ready to play.  We will need to tweak this recipe to see if we can get it be a bit more bouncy.  But the boys had fun with it all the same.

The Science behind the Activity:

Follow this link to see where I got the idea from and more details about the experiment: http://www.pbs.org/parents/crafts-for-kids/super-bouncy-balls/

Homemade “Fake” Snow

Out here in California, we don’t get any snow in the winter, unless you drive up to the mountains.  But what kid doesn’t love playing with snow?  Since going to Tahoe is not an everyday option, we whipped up some “fake” snow to play with in the meantime.  Only TWO ingredients!  Seriously, you have these at home so you can make your snowman today!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Baking soda
  • Shaving Cream
  • Large bin to play in
  • Glitter/Food coloring (optional)

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First, we emptied one box of baking soda into the bin.  If using a large bin, you might want to get several boxes of baking soda.

I had the boys touch the baking soda and describe how it felt using their senses.  I even let them take a taste.

Next we added some shaving cream to the bin and then the fun began!

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The boys used their hands to squish and mix and this way definitely the favorite part of the activity.  Add enough shaving cream until you have the consistency of fresh, powdery snow!  IMG_0739

Add more shaving cream if you want your snow to be a bit more moldable (so you can make a snowman, of course!) Below is a snowman made by one of the Tiny Tots.  Isn’t it cute?

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The boys decided the snow was “boring” without any color so of course, we added some liquid water color.  We ended up with purple snow.

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My superheroes tried their hand at making a purple snowman.  Now there’s something you don’t see everyday!

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The tiny tots in my class added some silver glitter to white snow.  Isn’t it lovely?

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Even my littlest superhero enjoyed exploring the “snow”.

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The Science behind the activity:

This is a great sensory activity to add to any weather or winter unit you might be working on.  It’s also another opportunity to observe changes in materials when they are mixed.  Or for us Californians, this might be the closest we get to snow this winter 😦

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soap Souffle

We are about one week away from school starting and it is getting harder to keep the superheroes entertained.  While the baby was napping, we decided to do a quick experiment.  Little did I know that this was going to keep them busy for over an hour!  So grab a bar of Ivory Soap and have some “clean” fun!

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

  • Ivory Soap (No other brand will do)
  • Paper Towel
  • Microwave
  • Empty bin (optional)

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Unwrap a bar of Ivory Soap and have your superheroes observe it.  If they are younger, ask them probing questions:

  • What shape is it?
  • Is it soft or hard?
  • What color is it?
  • Is it smooth or bumpy?
  • Does it have a smell?

We cut the bar of soap in half.  Place it on a paper towel (we used two sheets) and place in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. (Ours was done in about a minute)

Have your superheroes WATCH through the microwave (mine had to stand on chairs to see).  They will be amazed at what they see!

Take your soap out of the microwave.  It will be warm so touch it first before allowing your little ones to touch it.

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Ask them to describe what happened and how it has changed.  Then I put it in a bin and let them play with it.  So much fun!  They called it “snow”.

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And when they were done, they only needed to wash their hands with water and that got me thinking… what if we add water to the crumbled soap?  And so we did.  The superheroes predicted it would make bubbles since that is what happens when we add soap to the water during bath time.

And now we had even MORE fun.

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And clean-up is easy!  Their hands are already soapy so a quick rinse is all they need.  Please note that I would play with the crumbly soap outside as the dust particles caused my little ones to sneeze a bit indoors 🙂

Observation Sheets

Observation Sheets

Extension:

For older kids, you can test this with another brand of soap and see what happens.  Prior to placing the soap in the microwave, have them place each bar in a bowl of water to see if there is a difference in how they behave in water (this is the reason why only Ivory soap works) and what that might have to do with the end results.

The Science behind the Activity:

Ivory Soap is one of the few brands of soap that has air whipped into it during the manufacturing process so it is less dense than water, therefore it floats in water.  Because of this air trapped inside when the soap is heated, the trapped air molecules move faster forcing the soap to expand.  The heat also makes the soap a bit more pliable, thus adding to fluffiness.

To see where I got the idea from and a fabulous, detailed explanation, follow the link below:

http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/soap-souffle