Melting rainbows – a baking soda and vinegar activity

This is a really fun project for budding scientists – when you mix baking soda and vinegar a chemical reaction occurs which creates bubbles. This is fun all on its own but when you involve colours things take on a new direction. I’ve previously written about how Arlo’s schema penchant is for transformation and so setting up little science experiments for him to explore is so much fun.

You will need:

  • Ice cube tray
  • Food colouring
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • A tray
  • A beaker
  • Pipettes

I began by mixing up food colouring and water in an ice cube tray and letting this freeze overnight. I ended up leaving these in the freezer for a while and pulling them out on a quiet afternoon when we needed something to do

The set up was simple – I simply poured baking soda on to a tray and scattered the ice cubes over randomly, and then popped a small amount of vinegar in to a beaker with a pipette. I’ve found that when I only provide a small amount Arlo knows to use it sparingly and takes his time to approach the play task.

Then it was simply a case of supervising the play – as soon as the liquid touched the powder it began to fizz and so Arlo was super interested. He started trying out dripping the vinegar on different colours and then at different angles to see what the difference would be.

As the ice began to melt he wanted to move around the cubes to mix different colours and

Also realised that more powder created better bubbles and so he asked for a spoon to scoop the powder from the edges on to his favourite colour cubes. When the vinegar in his beaker ran out he used the pipette to squeeze up liquid back from the tray and re-use it.

A really simple but effective tray play idea, I always keep baking soda and vinegar in my play resources cupboard and it’s fun trying to think of new ways to play. Our colour reveal in a cupcake tray was another success.

Moon and stars water colour salt painting activity

This week at nursery Arlo has been following the topic of “moon stars and sun” which works with the terms overall themes of “light and dark, hot and cold” – so to support this learning I’ve incorporated some ideas in to activities we can do together at home.

This does require a little bit of planning ahead but not too much,

You will need:

  • Card stock (paper is too flimsy)
  • PVA glue
  • Salt
  • Water colour paints
  • Brushes
  • A jar of water

First things first create your shapes on card in PVA glue – I went free hand but you can find stencils or patterns online to print off or trace just as easily – simple ones are most effective for this kind of activity and you can involve the little ones if you wish.

Then sprinkle salt all over the glue and leave it to dry for a while. I have a separate container of salt to save the excess and use it in messy play trays and Science projects to melt ice etc. I like to create two sheets of paper (at least) and for activities like this I sit beside Arlo and work alongside him demonstrating and encouraging.

Once your glue has dried the image should Take on a 3D shape like this and it’s ready to paint.

Our simple set up included a palette of water colour paints and a jar of water. Arlo loves to mix colours and wanted to jump straight in – but he had to remember the process of dipping the brush in to water and then the colour and then the salt. He quickly learn that the more water he had on his brush the more colour he could mix and the better this spread on the salt.

We really enjoyed making our stars and moons rainbow coloured – and even though we had two projects Arlo took over both…. and we had a little happy accident where Arlo knocked a brush mix air and made splashes across his page – but fear not. I described these as twinkle stars and this became a new painting technique and he added some extra colours to finish his masterpiece.

These will be left to dry overnight and then we’ll put these up on display. I’m not quite sure what else we’ll try with this theme but I’m sure we’ll have a busy weekend and come up with some ideas to share.