Education6 Easy Science Experiments for Housebound Kids Using Everyday Items

May 13, 2020
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With home-based learning done and dusted and the school holidays brought forward, your primary school kids might be happy to welcome this short break from school. But you know it won’t be long before they’ll start to get restless and turn to their devices (or you!) for entertainment. To keep things fun while your family...

With home-based learning done and dusted and the school holidays brought forward, your primary school kids might be happy to welcome this short break from school. But you know it won’t be long before they’ll start to get restless and turn to their devices (or you!) for entertainment.

To keep things fun while your family stays home during the Circuit Breaker-School Holiday period, we’ve put together a list of fun science experiments that will nurture your kids’ curiosity. Not only do these science experiments for kids help them relate to their lessons in school, they also serve as good family bonding activities in between your work-from-home tasks and household chores.

Try These Science Experiments for Kids at Home!

1. Homemade Puffy Slime

There is something about the cloudlike texture of puffy slime that calms you down.

science experiments for kids
(Photo: Pinterest)

You will need:

  • 1 cup craft glue
  • 3 cups shaving cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons saline solution
  • 1 teaspoon food colouring
  • A teaspoon glitter
  • Medium bowl
  • 1 spatula

What you need to do:

  1. Pour glue into the bowl and add food colouring.
  2. Add glitter to the glue and stir until well-mixed.
  3. Add baking soda, saline solution and shaving cream to the mixture.
  4. Stir the glue mixture for about 1 minute.
  5. Allow the slime to sit for approximately 3 minutes.
  6. Have fun with your homemade puffy slime!

Tip:

Rub your hands with a few drops of saline solution to minimise stickiness while playing with the slime.

Fun science facts to share with your kids

  • Shaving cream is made up of water mixed in with a number of ingredients. When we spray shaving cream out of an aerosol can, air (which is also known as gas) is squeezed into the liquid which results in a soft foam that comes out of the bottle. This is similar to the process of blowing bubbles in a glass of water!
  • Saline solution is used in this experiment as we need boric acid and sodium borate to form a cross-linked polymer (a big molecule made of much smaller molecules). The boron reacts with the polyvinyl acetate in the glue concoction, which makes the slime flexible.

2. Rock Candy

Turn your kitchen into a rock candy lab as you whip up skewers of rock candy that you and your kids can enjoy!

science experiments for kids
(Photo: Mommy Poppins)

You will need:

  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • Food colouring (optional)
  • Flavour enhancements such as vanilla essence
  • 1 clothespin
  • A few wooden chopsticks
  • Paper towel
  • An empty jar

What you need to do:

  1. Boil water in a large pot on the stove.
  2. Pour sugar into the pot of boiling water and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Add in any flavour enhancements that you like, such as vanilla or almond essences.
  4. Allow the solution to cool for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. While waiting for the solution to cool, prepare your wooden chopsticks for growing the rock crystals. Wet the wooden chopsticks and roll them around in granulated sugar. Allow the sugared sticks to dry completely before proceeding to the next step – you need one stick per jar.
  6. Once the sugar solution has cooled down, add in your preferred food colouring. You may skip this step if you’re making clear-coloured crystals.
  7. Pour the cooled sugar solution into a glass jar and insert the sugar-coated wooden stick into the centre of the jar. Make sure the stick is not touching any part of the jar to avoid the sugar crystals from getting stuck at the bottom or at the side.
  8. Once in place, secure the stick with a clothespin and cover the top with a paper towel. You may have to poke a hole in the paper towel for the wooden stick to poke through.
  9. Place the glass in a cool and quiet place, as loud noises and a lot of movement can disrupt the crystal-making process. Watch as the candy crystals expand as they reach their maximum growth two weeks later.
  10. Once you have a good amount of rock candy crystals, remove the stick and place your crystal candy on a sheet of wax paper to dry before eating.

Tip:

For a nice variety, you can divide the sugar solution across a few small glass jars and mix in different shades of food colouring in each.

Fun science fact to share with your kids

Through this fun science experiment, your kids get to observe the crystalisation process first-hand, which is the process by which a solid forms when atoms or molecules are highly organised into a structure.

3. Lava Lamp – One of the Most Popular Science Experiments for Kids

Science experiments for kids such as this is a great way for kids to learn about liquid density as they wind down towards the end of the day.

science experiments for kids
(Photo: YouTube)

You will need:

  • A wide bottle or wide glass vase
  • Food colouring in a variety of colours
  • Vegetable oil
  • Water
  • Effervescent tablet

What you need to do:

  1. Fill the glass bottle or vase with oil at the ¾ mark.
  2. Fill the rest of the bottle or vase with water, leaving 2 to 3 inches at the top. Watch the water fall through the vegetable oil and settle at the bottom.
  3. Once the water has settled at the bottom, add in drops of food colouring. Watch as each drop falls through the oil and sits on top of the water layer.
  4. Wait for the water droplets to break through the oil/water line and burst into the water layer.
  5. Drop the effervescent tablet in and catch the sizzling action! Be sure to capture this on video so your kids can share the spectacle with their friends.

Tip:

To avoid a massive eruption, break the effervescent tablet into smaller pieces. Drop them in one at a time and watch the lava lamp sizzle. As the reaction slows down, you can add the next piece in to maintain the sizzling action.

Fun science facts to share with your kids

  • Through this activity, your kids can see for themselves the effects of liquid density. For example, they will learn that water is denser that oil, and that water molecules are “polar” while oil molecules are “non-polar”. This explains why they are not attracted to each other, so they don’t mix.
  • The effervescent water reaction produces carbon dioxide gas bubbles which stick to the water droplets. The water/gas combo is less dense than oil, and hence they rise to the top. The gas bubbles then break and are released into the air, and the water sinks to the bottom to start over again.

4. Mr Penguin’s Raincoat

Through this experiment, we’ll get to see how penguins use their feathers to keep their bodies warm and dry. And yes, like most bird species, penguins have feathers covering their bodies and wings.

science experiments for kids
(Photo: Dustin Meyer)

You will need:

  • 1 piece of paper
  • A box of crayons
  • 1 squirt bottle, filled with 1-2 cups of water
  • 2-3 drops of blue food colouring
  • 1 baking sheet
  • 1 baking tray

What you need to do:

  1. Using the crayons, draw and colour your favourite penguin. Make sure every part of the penguin has a layer of crayon, but do leave the background clean.
  2. Fill the squirt bottle with water.
  3. Add 2 to 3 drops of blue food colouring to the water.
  4. Secure the cap of the squirt bottle and gently swirl it to mix the blue solution evenly.
  5. Place your drawing on a baking sheet in the tray.
  6. Use the squirt bottle to cover the entire drawing with blue water.
  7. Observe how the crayon feathers repel the water – that’s exactly how they keep your feathered friend dry in real life!

Tip:

To show your child the repelling effect of the wax on crayons, you can prepare a penguin drawing with markers and place it on another tray. Then squirt the blue water on both drawings to compare the end results.

Fun science facts to share with your kids

  • Feathered animals such as ducks and penguins have a gland that forms a special type of oil to keep their bodies dry.
  • Crayons are made of wax, which is a non-polar system with strong dispersion force. When we colour the penguin with crayons, we added a protective layer of wax to the paper. The non-polar properties of wax repel the polar properties of water, just like how feathers repel water to protect penguins from the rain.

5. Walking Water Rainbow

Science experiments for kids can be fun and colourful too! Let your young ones learn about capillary action and colour mixing by demonstrating how water travels upwards.

science experiments for kids
(Photo: The STEM Laboratory)

You will need:

  • 6 wide-mouth glasses or jars
  • Paper towels
  • Food colouring or liquid water colour in red, yellow and blue

What you need to do:

  1. Tear 6 sheets of paper towel and fold each sheet in thirds lengthwise.
  2. Place the glasses in a straight line and fill the first one with red food colouring/water colour, the third with yellow and the fifth with blue. Leave the rest of the glasses empty.
  3. Add water to the glasses with colour until almost full and stir in to mix.
  4. Arrange the glasses into a circle and place the paper towel strips in. One end of the paper towel goes into the glass of coloured water and the other end in the empty glass next to it. Do this for all 3 colours.
  5. Watch as the colours get absorbed into the paper towels and travel through the entire length of the paper towel strips. You will also notice that 2 different colours mixed together in the empty glasses form a new colour (e.g. yellow and red makes orange).

Tip:

Before pouring the food colouring/water colour, it’s a good idea to test the paper towel strips to make sure they fit nicely in the glasses. They should go from the bottom of one glass to the next without sticking too much in the air. This is so that the weight of the water in the paper towel will not stop the capillary action from taking place.

Fun science facts to share with your kids

  • Paper towels (and all paper products) are made from fibres found in plants called cellulose. The coloured water travels up the paper towel through a process called capillary action, which is the ability of liquids to flow upward, against gravity, in narrow spaces. This relates to the concept of how water travels from a plant’s roots to the leaves in trees.
  • There are 2 things taking place with the water molecules in this experiment. They cling to the cellulose fibres in the paper towel, which is called adhesion. On the other hand, water molecules are also attracted to each other and stick close together, a process called cohesion. So as the water slowly moves up the tiny gaps in the paper towel fibres, the cohesive forces help to draw more water upwards.

6. Lemon Volcano – One of the Most Exciting Science Experiments for Kids

Here’s a good one to entertain kids who simply love watching things erupt!

science experiments for kids
(Photo: Little Bins for Little Hands)

You will need:

  • 1 lemon
  • Food colouring in a variety of colours
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Cutting board
  • Popsicle sticks
  • A large plate

What you need to do:

  1. Roll the lemon on the table and cut it in half.
  2. Use a popsicle stick to poke into the flesh of the lemon to release the juices.
  3. Place the lemon halves on a large plate. If your lemon is wobbly and does not stand nicely, cut a flat part at the bottom.
  4. Add a few drops of food colouring in the middle of the cut-up lemons. Do mix a variety of colours for a better effect later on.
  5. Add a dribble of dish soap to each lemon.
  6. Sprinkle the top of the lemon with a generous layer of baking soda. You will notice a bit of reaction taking place.
  7. Take the stick and poke the lemons to push the baking soda into the lemon and mix it with the lemon juice.
  8. Voila – enjoy your lemon volcano eruption!

Tips:

  • You can extend this experiment by using baking soda for one half of the lemon and baking powder for the other half to compare the reactions.
  • Once you are done with this experiment, you can reuse the lemons to create art. Scrape off the bubbly reaction and press the lemons on a piece of drawing block to create colourful stamp patterns.
  • Turn this into a series of fun experiments for kids by using other citrus fruits such as limes, oranges and grapefruits – so go ahead and explore with what you have in the refrigerator!

Fun science fact to share with your kids

The eruption taking place in the lemons boils down to the interaction between acids and bases, resulting in the release of carbon dioxide gas (or in our case, the bubbles). On the other hand, the dish soap helps to capture the gas so we can see it in the form of bubbles.

Read also: 20 Free Online Resources to Keep Your Child Occupied While You Work From Home

There are so many amazing science experiments that you can do with your kids using simple everyday items that you have at home. So, go ahead and explore with what you have on hand to satisfy your kids’ curiosity and love for learning.

Written by Justina Goh