Most kids love science experiments. My children recently participated in their school’s science fair, and I loved seeing them light up as they explained their experiments to a crowd of proud, smiling grown-ups. However, I was disappointed to hear they don’t do as many science experiments as the teachers would like to throughout the school year because of the focus on reading, writing, and math.
This got me thinking that we should try to do more science experiments at home. Science experiments have so much more to offer than just the “wow” factor—not that I’m discrediting the “wow” factor. Who doesn’t love seeing their child’s eyes widen when the “volcano” erupts as the vinegar reacts with the baking soda? But science experiments do so much more than simply impress our young learners. They not only foster children’s analytical thinking skills, they also encourage them to think outside the box as they test their hypotheses.
Here are a few simple science experiments to try with your child at home. You might even have all of the materials already!
- Bread Mold Experiment: Mold happens. It’s usually a sad occasion when our food molds and goes to waste. But in this experiment, your child will see which conditions are best for mold to grow and learn a bit about how mold helped humans discover some important medicines. This experiment involves few materials and is fun to observe. It takes time, though, so make sure you prepare your child to practice their observing and describing skills as they watch the mold grow over time.
- Celery and Food Coloring Experiment: We all know that plants need water to survive, but how exactly is water used by the plant? Your child will have a terrific time watching the water become distributed throughout the celery stalk.
- Yeast Experiment: It’s Alive! It’s neat to see something that is seemingly dead come alive, such as yeast! Introduce your little scientist to the magic of yeast with this experiment, and get them excited about a fascinating and extremely beneficial little organism that does so much for us.
- Brush Up: A Toothpaste Experiment: Do you have someone in your house who is reluctant to brush their teeth? If so, you might consider doing this experiment with them as it clearly demonstrates the power of tooth brushing!
- Leak Proof Bag Experiment: This one is definitely a crowd-pleaser! It involves poking pencils through a plastic bag filled with water. Make sure to have your child predict what they think will happen before doing it.
- Candle Burning Experiment: Who doesn’t like to light a candle? I know I do, and most kids certainly love the combination of candles and fire! Here’s a science experiment that gives your child a chance to see how fire needs oxygen to burn–with a little math and writing practice thrown in.
- Sink or Float: A Science Experiment: This simple experiment will get your child thinking about density before they are even aware of the word! Using items you gather around the house, they will test out their predictions to see which items sink and which ones float.
These are just a sample of the science experiments you can try with your little ones at home. There are so many more out there! I like to have my kids keep a science journal to draw and write in as they record their experiences with the science experiments. The process is as important as the product when it comes to learning through experimenting.
By Sarah Zegarra (M.Ed), educator and teacher leader who taught K-5 bilingual education (Spanish-English). She is passionate about project-based, whole-child, culturally responsive teaching, and integrating the arts into learning.