Panning for Gold

So technically, this isn’t a *science* experiment/activity but it was part of my activities for St. Patrick’s Day where we went hunting for gold to put in our gold pots.  But it was so much fun for the tiny tots and for my superheroes that I had to share it:)  Super easy to do!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Bin or Sandbox (I use the shoebox size bins from the dollar store)
  • Sand (I used the play sand from Home Depot)
  • Gold (we painted rocks in our yard with metallic gold acrylic paint)
  • Plastic gold coins or pennies, plastic gems or shiny glass stones
  • “Tools”: sand toys such as sifters, shovels, rakes, magnifying glasses, etc…

IMG_5482

To prepare the rocks:

We first collected big and small rocks to make large gold pieces and small gold nuggets.  Then we painted them with gold acrylic paint.

IMG_1100_2 IMG_1104

We let them dry and they looked AWESOME!

IMG_1106

To prepare the box:

Fill the bin about halfway with sand.  Bury the gold rocks and gold coins into the sand.   Make sure all the treasures are covered up by the sand.

IMG_5483

Give your superheroes some “Tools” and let them dig and discover!  That’s it!  Easy!

IMG_5485The little ones enjoyed digging in their boxes for gold and treasures!

IMG_5486

This was definitely a favorite for my superheroes and the Tiny Tots in my science class.  I’ve also varied this with dinosaur eggs and skeletons in my Dinosaur Dig activity

 The Science behind the Activity:

Here is another science activity that invites young children to explore, investigate and be curious, just like real scientists.  They choose which tools to use and how to use them and what methods are best for locating the hidden items, and cleaning off their finds.  Lots of problem-solving and the kids think that they are just playing in the sand!

Extension:

This activity can be modified for any hidden items.  You could also throw in some gems, large beads,  Great for a pirate party or to link to a history unit.  You can also add magnetic items and non magnetic items and have them use a magnetic wand to find and test the items!  So many options!

Advertisements

Halloween Ice Monsters & Spooky Hands

If you’ve tried the Ice Age Dino Dig, then your superheroes will definitely like this Halloween twist!  Frozen Spooky Hands or Halloween Ice Monsters or whatever creative twist you want! Out in California, it’s still fairly warm in October so playing with ice is not usually a problem.  But I’ve noticed, that my kids don’t care about the heat or cold as much as we adults do so give it a go!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • water
  • cups (smaller shot glass ones are better if you want the ice to melt faster
  • Halloween themed treasures (spider rings, plastic spiders, creatures, googly eyes, candy, orange/black beads, plastic pumpkins, cut straws, etc…)
  • food coloring/liquid watercolors (optional but so much more fun!)
  • disposable plastic gloves
  • salt (I use colored salt as it is much more fun!)
  • “Tools” (syringes, droppers, salt shakers, metal spoons, sticks, spray bottles, etc…)
  • Empty tub to contain the mess

IMG_2344

For Spooky Hands:

Add some “treasures” to the fingers of the glove.

IMG_2345Then add some colored water.

IMG_2347 Add more treasures and a bit more water. Tie up the glove and place it in the freezer overnight.IMG_2348

For Halloween Ice Monsters:

In a plastic cup, add 2 treasures, 1-3 googly eyes and some colored water. Place in the freezer for 8-12 hours.  Add 2-3 more treasures and more colored water (different color from the previous layer).

IMG_3673

Place in the freezer for 8-12 hours.  Add 2 more treasures and more colored water (different color from the previous 2 layers).  Place in the freezer for 8-12 hours.

IMG_2422

To Play/Explore:

Remove the spooky hands CAREFULLY from the glove.  Be careful as it is SO easy to break off a finger or a thumb (as I so obviously did!)  I had to basically peel off the glove gently.IMG_2353

To remove the Ice Monsters, just run a bit of warm water over the bottom of the cup and it will pop right out!

IMG_3682

Ice Monsters keeping cold until the Tiny Tots arrive

Place the ice into a bin and hand your superheroes some tools and ask them to get the treasures out any way they like.

 

IMG_2408

The Tiny Tots went straight at their ice monsters and surprisingly did not stop until all the treasures were out.  There was lots of dropper action, salt shaking and pouring.

 

IMG_3683 IMG_3685

Salt shakers are great  for melting the ice and syringes and droppers allow them to melt holes in the ice blocks.

IMG_2357 IMG_2369

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spray bottles with warm water are great for strengthening the muscles in their hands.

IMG_2361 IMG_2376

My superheroes finally dumped the warm water from the spray bottle to speed up the process.

 The Science behind the Activity:

When the salt is added to the ice, it lowers the freezing point of the ice so that water can exist as a liquid at a temperature lower than 32 degrees F (0 degrees C).  This helps to melt the ice, much like East Coasters use salt on the roads to melt the snow and ice so that cars don’t skid in the cold, snowy weather.  Using hot water also helped to melt the ice which was a concept that my boys already understand but perhaps younger kids could discover.  What I love most about this activity, besides the science, is the creative problem solving that the superheroes did while working together to dig out the treasures from the ice.  It was so wonderful for me to listen to their discussions on why they needed to use the droppers and when it was necessary to add more salt or warm water.

I’ve also done a similar experiment called Ice Age Dino Dig.  Super fun for any dinosaur theme or just a hot summer day.

Follow this link to see where I got the idea from and more details about the experiment:

http://happyhooligans.ca/salt-and-ice-experiment/

Follow this link to see how I learned about coloring salt:

http://www.craftymoods.com/2012/06/make-festive-color-salt-sugar-in-no.html#.U9x-foBdXUg

Dinosaur Dig

This Dinosaur Dig activity is SOO easy to set up and keeps the youngest superheroes entertained for a long time.  Pair it up with some Dinosaur Eggs and your little Paleontologists will be even happier diggers!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Bin or Sandbox (I use the shoebox size bins from the dollar store)
  • Sand (I used the play sand from Home Depot)
  • Container to place all the hidden items in as they find them.
  • Toy dinosaurs, skulls, skeletons
  • Dinosaur Eggs (click here to see how to make these EASY eggs with treasures/fossils inside)
  • “Tools”: paintbrushes, toothbrushes, shovels, spoons, magnifying glasses, etc…

IMG_0541 IMG_2274

To prepare the box:

Fill the bin about halfway with sand.  Bury toy dinosaurs, toy skulls or dinosaur skeletons into the sand.  I also buried a few dinosaur eggs for the kids to find.  Make sure all the treasures are covered up by the sand.

Give your superheroes some “Tools” and let them dig and discover!  That’s it!  Easy!

IMG_2292

The superheroes enjoyed digging in their boxes for dinosaurs, skulls and skeletons!

IMG_2310IMG_2307

Using the magnifying glass for closer examination and toothbrushes to clean out the dinosaur skulls was a big hit!  The picture below on the left shows a superhero brushing the dinosaur’s teeth:)

IMG_2306 IMG_2304

The dinosaur dig is definitely a favorite for the superheroes and the Tiny Tots in my science class.  We will definitely be doing this again next session!

 The Science behind the Activity:

Here is another science activity that invites young children to explore, investigate and be curious, just like real scientists.  They choose which tools to use and how to use them and what methods are best for locating the hidden items, breaking open the dinosaur eggs and cleaning off their finds.  Lots of problem-solving and the kids think that they are just playing in the sand!

Extension:

This activity can be modified for any hidden items.  You could also throw in some gems, large beads, gold-painted rocks and show them how to use a sifter (from their sand toy collection) to look for treasures as well.  Great for a pirate party or to link to a history unit.

Dinosaur Eggs

As part of my dinosaur theme, I like to set up a “Dinosaur Dig”.  One of the treasures my Mini-Paleontologists dig for are fossils.  These easy homemade Dinosaur Eggs are a great way for your superheroes to use their problem solving skills to crack them open and discover what’s inside and how to get it out.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Cornstarch
  • Sand (I used some sand we got from the beach as well as play sand from Home Depot)
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Water
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Old Pot (or one you don’t mind getting scratched up from the sand)
  • Some dinosaurs (or other small animal figures-I got mine from the dollar store)
  • Tools: brushes, toothbrushes, plastic knives (metal butter knives if your kids are old enough), magnifying glassesIMG_2320

To make the dinosaur eggs:

Add 1 cup of sand, 1/2 cup of cornstarch and 1/2 tsp of Cream of Tartar to an old pot.  I say an old pot in case you are worried about it getting scratched from the sand.

Add 1/2 cup of water and mix over medium-low heat.  It will be watery at first but will slowly thicken into a dough.

IMG_2272 IMG_2273

Once the dough has formed, place it on a cutting board to cool a bit.

IMG_0540

I used dinosaur skulls and small dinosaurs for my eggs.

IMG_0541IMG_2274

Place a dinosaur or skull into the chunk of dough and shape into an egg.

IMG_2277

Let it dry overnight.  I put ours out in the sun and they were rock hard the next morning.

IMG_2248

Give your kids the tools to break it open.  Or hide them in a sand box.  Or make it part of a dinosaur dig!

IMG_2249 IMG_2255

The superheroes used a knife and their hands to crack the eggs open.

IMG_2265 IMG_2266

They used brushes and magnifying glasses to examine the dinosaurs and clean them off.

IMG_2267

Science Behind the Activity:

This is an excellent way to develop fine motor skills as well as enhance problem solving skills.  The superheroes tried many different ways to get the eggs open, using their hands and tools.  Once they discovered the skulls, I gave them a chart to try to identify which skull belonged to which dinosaur.

 

 

Lego Marble Maze

Last week we took our lego-obsessed superheroes to Legoland in Carlsbad, CA.  The boys had a BLAST while we were there and had fun building while my husband or I waited in line for rides.  That got me thinking… Lego and science?  Could there be a more perfect union?

We started our Lego explorations with a simple Marble Maze.  I had to help them get started but then they were on their own!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Lego or Duplo building plates
  • Assorted Lego or Duplo pieces

We used the smaller base plates for our first run but a Duplo base plate with a bouncy ball would be perfect for the younger superheroes in your life.

I showed the superheroes what a marble maze looks like on my computer and then gave them some tips to get started.  That’s it!  Easy!

Below is our first run:

IMG_1851 IMG_1849

My younger superhero made the one below, complete with a “blocking bridge” and a tower.

IMG_1847 IMG_1848

Tips:

  • Build a border around the base plate to keep the marble in.
  • Make sure there is a clear entrance and exit.
  • Determine how wide the alleys need to be to accommodate the marble.
  • Determine how high the bridges/arches need to be to accommodate the marble.

Extensions:

Try using different size base plates, different size marbles/balls, tunnels, dead ends, obstacles, ramps, etc… the options are endless!  Have an A-MAZE-ing time building!

The Science hidden in this Activity:

Building is a wonderful way to introduce your superheroes to engineering, problem solving, creativity, etc… My boys are obsessed with Lego and sometimes they build while following the instructions (excellent for developing focus and the skill of following multi-step directions) and other times they build freely (excellent for creativity and problem solving).  Either way, it’s great for their brain!

Follow this link to see where I got the idea from and more details about the activity:

http://www.science-sparks.com/2014/08/07/lego-maze/

Feel free to share pictures of your a-maze-ing creations in the comments or on our Facebook Page!