The kitchen is a popular place during the holidays – and a perfect location to introduce your child to the “magic” of science.
Children are naturally curious and more inclined to learn about something that interests them. Introducing them to science at a young age – and in a fun way – can be a powerful catalyst to future learning. Not only will it pique their interest in the natural world around them, but exploring science can also help children learn to work together, develop basic large- and small-motor control, foster language and promote early mathematical understanding.
Whether you’ve got time on your hands to get involved in an experiment or simply need a distraction, there are plenty of fun opportunities to choose from.
Activity ideas to get the science juices flowing
Cranberries are a staple on many Thanksgiving tables, but will they float? Let’s try a simple science experiment. Fill a plastic cup with water and ask your child to predict whether cranberries sink or float. Drop in a cranberry and … it floats! Cut a cranberry in half so kids can see the inside, where there are four air pockets. (These are what make a cranberry float.) Learn more about cranberries at www.cranberries.org – including how they grow and are harvested.
Cranberries are also a key ingredient in “spy juice.” Mix cranberry juice with baking soda to create “ink” that disappears upon drying. The Kitchen Pantry Scientist website has a recipe for making invisible “spy juice.”
If you have time and your children are patient enough to wait several days for scientific results, consider making “rock” crystal candy. This sugar candy is made when crystals form from a sugar-water solution. We found several cool recipes for rock candy, including one that explains the science behind the fun.
Here’s a really cool experiment to make homemade sticky window jellies. Older kids may be interested in the scientific explanation about how they’re made.
Looking for some quick ideas to keep kids occupied while you peel potatoes? Check out recipes for goop, slime and gak. Made with handy kitchen ingredients, they’ll keep your young child busy as they check out the different consistencies of each substance.
Kids can also make salt dough ornaments with a few handy kitchen ingredients. Tint the dough with food coloring, or dry the creations and paint with acrylics.
Here’s a basic recipe: Mix together ¾ cup of salt and approximately one cup of water together until salt dissolves. Slowly add to 2 cups of flour, stirring and kneading until it is a desired consistency. If you’re making ornaments, use a straw to make a hole at the top. Bake at 275 for 45-60 minutes. Cooled ornaments can be painted with acrylic paints.