Science activities for toddlers are a wonderful way to combine learning with fun! Kids science experiments aren’t just about science either; many science experiments for kids promote learning in areas of math and reading as well. Beth Rosenthal Davis’ book, Hands-On Science and Math is a great parent and teacher resource full of all kinds of science activities for kids!
Here are two science activities guaranteed to get your toddler excited about science!
Squish and Squeeze: Secondary Colors
- The children will blend primary colored paint in bags to create secondary colors. They will use their hands to do the blending, which will give them a chance to learn the lesson via a sensory experience.
- Plastic spoons
- White fingerpaint paper (optional)
For each child or pair:
- Ziplock bags
- 2 primary colors of tempera or fingerpaint
Review how two primary colors can blend to form a secondary color. Ask what new color is made when red and yellow are combined. How about red and blue or yellow and blue? Tell the children that they will combine primary colors in bags and use their hands to mix the colors and make new ones.
- Place a spoonful of each of two different primary colors of tempera pain in a ziplock bag. Make enough bags for each child or pair of children.
- Seal the bags, and have the children squish and squeeze the colors in the bags until the hues change to secondary colors.
- The children can draw with their fingers through the bags to press the paint away and make designs.
- If you like, the children can tape or hang the bags in the window so the light shines through. The bags can form decorations for the classroom.
- You can also open the bags and let the children use the paint to fingerpaint pictures.
The Mystery of Suspension
- The children will learn that suspensions have qualities of both liquids and solids and appear to be in a state between the two. Suspensions are thick; pour slowly; are similar to solids that appear to ooze; and can be compare to substances such as oobleck, GAK, or Silly Putty. The children will compare and contrast, mix, and measure as they explore a suspension.
For each group of four children:
- Empty bowl or cup
- ½ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup water (colored or plain)
- Plastic spoon
- Food coloring (optional)
- 2 cups
- Liquid, such as water, milk, or juice*
- Solid item, such as a rock or plastic lid
- Ziplock bags or plastic containers
* If you are using milk or juice for your demonstration, provide enough cups for each child to have some milk or juice to drink.
Review with the children the properties of liquids and solids. Remind them that liquids, such as water, juice, and milk, pour. Demonstrate by pouring different liquids from one cup to another. (If you use a beverage other than water, pour it into cups for the children to drink so the beverage is not wasted.) Then, note that you cannot pour solids. Demonstrate this by tapping a plastic lid or rock on the table.
Explain that today they will investigate another substance called a suspension. Suspensions appear to be both liquids and solids at times. How can this be? Suspensions are characterized by an in-between state. Explain to the children that they are going to make a suspension and then explore how it feels.
- Go over the names of the materials on the tray. Write the names on the board and do not miss the opportunity to examine the first letter of each item.
- Divide the children into groups of four. Tell them that everyone will have a chance to pour their ingredients into bowls to make a substance called oobleck.
- Put a mixing bowl or cup in front of one child. Have him pour ¼ cup of colored water into the bowl. Pass the bowl to the next child, and have her pour in ½ cup cornstarch. Pass the bowl to the next child, and ask her to stir the mixture. Let a fourth child pour it slowly out of the bowl and onto the table.
- Invite the children to experiment with poking the mass on the table. When it is on the table or in the bowl, it appears to be a solid. The same will be true if the child holds it tightly in his hands. The pressure from the children’s hands keeps the mass feeling like a solid. Once they open their hands, the oobleck will begin to ooze, forming a liquid-like state. As it oozes out of their hands and hits the table again, it will harden to a more solid state.
- Let the groups of four children make batches of oobleck from the materials on their trays. Encourage them to pour the substance on the table.
- Let them poke it, and discuss that it pours, but not quickly like water. As you poke it, discuss that it is like a solid as well. Give them a chance to freely explore the substance on the table.
- When the children are finished exploring the oobleck, put the suspension mixtures in plastic containers or Ziplock bags. When the children prepare to play with it in the future, have them wash or sanitize their hands first to keep germs away.
Find more great science activities in Hands-On Science and Math!