By Guest Author Brandee Gillham
How is it that when the days are shortest, they can feel the longest? The winter months can seem to drag on, so here are some fun and encouraging STEM-based activities to do with your kiddos in the kitchen. You should have most of these items and ingredients hanging around your home, or they can be picked up at a minimal cost.
My cowboy and I are raising four cowpokes (yes, all boys!) here in northeastern Colorado, so their favorite experiments are the ones that end with a great explosion and/or mess. As the mama, those aren’t always my top picks, but I do love seeing the thrill in their eyes as we embark upon creative learning adventures. Here are some of our favorites; I encourage you to try one on your next “inside” day:
Snowstorm in a Jar
Here’s a list of what you’ll need:
- 16 oz mason jar
- Baby oil
- Iridescent glitter
- White acrylic paint
- Alka-Seltzer (make sure it has citric acid and sodium bicarbonate in the ingredients since that’s what’s going to cause the chemical reaction)
Now to the experiment:
- Fill the mason jar about 2/3 full with baby oil.
- Add a small squirt of white paint in about ¼ cup of water, then stir it until it is combined.
- Pour the water mixture into the jar.
- Add some glitter to the jar (not too much).
- Break up the Alka-Seltzer tablet into small pieces, then drop two or three pieces into the jar.
- After the Alka-Seltzer has dropped to the bottom, your snowstorm should begin.
- You may want to wait about five minutes for the oil to clear and for the paint to settle before doing the experiment again.
- Put the lid on the jar and store it away to do it again another day. You can keep using it over and over!
Shaving Cream Rain Clouds
Here’s what you need to gather:
- A few clear glasses or bowls (you need one for each color you are creating, plus at least one that will serve as the rain cloud holder)
- Food coloring, more options = more fun
- Shaving cream
- Eye dropper, syringe, or ¼ teaspoon measuring spoon
Now for the fun:
- Fill a few, clear containers with water. The smaller the amount of water, the more concentrated the colors will be, but at the same time, if you use more water, you’ll make more rain. Change it up and see what you like best.
- Add different colors of food coloring to each glass or bowl.
- Now take the large clear container (the rain cloud holder) and fill it about 2/3 full of water.
- Top it with a generous amount of shaving cream.
- Use the eye dropper or syringe or ¼ tsp to drop the different colors of water onto the shaving cream cloud. The closer you squirt to the edges the faster it will go through the shaving cream and come down as rain.
Isn’t science fun? If you have a kiddo who struggles to enjoy Science, adding in activities like the ones above can be a great way to break up your lessons and help him/her have fun with learning! It can also be helpful for children who have learning styles that make it difficult for them to learn simply by reading a lesson (a kinesthetic learner, for example).
Hands-on science, and math for that matter, are a beautiful way of showing that God is a God of order, creativity, and imagination (as seen in the creation account in chapters one and two of Genesis). I love being both a scientist AND someone who deeply loves the Lord. Science and the Bible are not archenemies of one another but instead form a sweet union of God delighting to show us His character in the world He created.