Fizzing Christmas Trees

In our home (and with the Tiny Tots in my classes), baking soda and vinegar NEVER get old.  All the fizzing and bubbling and color changes make it a fun activity anytime.  So, how about making a few Fizzing Christmas Trees to get in the holiday spirit?  My superheroes and the Tiny Tots had a blast with these!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Baking Soda
  • Water
  • Measuring cup
  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Paper plates cut in half
  • Glitter, Sequins, Beads, etc… (anything you’d like to mix in to your trees)
  • Vinegar
  • Green food coloring or green liquid watercolor
  • Bin to contain the mess

IMG_4524

To make the fizzing Christmas Trees:

Add 2 cups of baking soda (about one 1lb box) to a large bowl.  Add glitter, beads, sequins (not necessary but always fun).  IMG_4477

Add the food coloring to 1/2 cup of water and place in the bowl.

IMG_4479 Mix together well with your hands.  It will be crumbly. If it’s too water/soupy, add more baking soda.

IMG_4480

Cut a paper plate in half.  Roll it into a cone shape and tape the sides.

IMG_4482 Fill it with about half of the baking soda mixture, making sure to pack it in tightly to form a nice pointy top for your tree. (This recipe makes 2 trees)IMG_4481

Trim the bottom of the plate and flatten the top so that you don’t have leaning trees (like some of mine!)

IMG_4483

Place in the freezer overnight to firm up the shape.

IMG_4484
The next morning, the trees were very hard. Perfect!

To play: 

Unwrap the paper plate from the trees and place into a bin.  I added some baking soda on the bottom to look like snow.

IMG_4490

I had my superheroes add a little “snow” to the trees.

I gave them 2 cups of “Elf Potion” (vinegar with red and green food coloring) and a dropper.  They knew EXACTLY what to do!

IMG_4489

The instant the vinegar hit the trees, the fizzing and bubbling began.

IMG_4492

As the trees “melted”, they found beads and sparkly glitter.  The older ones kept at it until the tress were all gone and a sloppy, glittery, goopy mess was left as evidence of some fun holiday science!

IMG_4505

Bubbles and fizzing!!!  They LOVED it!!

Such an easy and simple little experiment to set up with a Christmas twist.  For more ideas on how to play with baking soda and vinegar throughout the year, check out my other fizzy activities:

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://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/melting-christmas-tree-baking-soda-science-sensory-play/

 

 

Candy Cane Crystals

There are so many fun Christmas themed crafts for kids to make but how about mixing your crafting with some science too?  These candy cane crystals are EASY to make and look so pretty.  Hand them out as gifts or use as gift toppers or ornaments.

These are the EASIEST crystals you’ll ever make!  And they are pretty sturdy when they are done!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Borax
  • Hot water (Obviously an adult will be needed to do this part)
  • pyrex measuring cup (one that can withstand hot water)
  • measuring spoons
  • pipecleaners
  • string
  • wide mouth glass jar
  • string
  • stick or pencil (we used craft sticks)IMG_4400

Give each superhero a red and white pipecleaner and have them twist the two together to create the alternating red/white pattern.  We had to cut ours in half to make them the right size for our jars.  Bend it into a candy cane shape (or as my middle son said, a “J”).

IMG_4401

Tie a string to the pipe cleaner and then attach to a pencil or craft stick so that the stick can rest on the top of the jar.IMG_4402

Be sure the string is the right length so that the pipe cleaner shape can be fully immersed in the jar’s liquid and will not touch the bottom. As the crystals form, there will be a layer of crystals at the bottom of the jar and you do not want your candy cane to get stuck to it or else it will break when you try to remove it from the jar.

IMG_4403

Make sure you can easily get the pipe cleaner out without bending it since once the crystals form it will be hard, stiff and brittle.

Mix 3 tablespoons of Borax (found in the laundry detergent aisle) with 1 cup of hot water.  Stir until the borax dissolves completely. Each one of our jars held 3 cups of water to completely submerge the pipe cleaners (3 cups water = 9 tablespoons Borax)

IMG_4405

I poured the hot borax mixture into the jars and the superheroes dropped the pipe cleaners into the jars.  (You will need to do this step if you have little ones).  Make sure the pipe cleaner shapes do not touch the sides of the jar or the bottom of the jar. 

IMG_4407

Within a few hours we saw the crystals forming but the next morning the superheroes saw their sparkly candy canes!IMG_4412

We also made a snowflake and twirly icicle with glitter pipe cleaners.

IMG_4411

Take them out carefully from the jars and let them dry.

IMG_4414

The crystals are strong and heavy.  These are such a pretty addition to our tree!

IMG_4415

*Note of Caution: Borax is toxic if ingested and can irritate eyes.  If you have young children or pets who might ingest a broken particle, you might want to think twice about making these.

The Science behind the Activity:

When dissolving the borax in hot water, you are creating a supersaturated solution which means you are using heat to get more borax to dissolve than you would with water at room temperature.  As the water cools, the borax “falls out of solution” and solidifies (recrystallizes) on the pipecleaner and on the bottom of the jar.

To clean the crystals off the bottom of the jar, just add more hot water and redissolve the borax and then you can pour it out easily.

IMG_4413

Read my original post on Borax Crystals and to see where I got my idea from.