As you see your little wide-eyed preschoolers staring up at you, you may wonder how to teach them about some of the amazing things that happen in the world around us. Preschoolers are naturally curious and most are eager to participate in simple science activities. Liquids are especially fun, and there are a variety of ways to show your little ones the neat things liquids can do.
Ocean in a Bottle
This gives children a fun take-home item and teaches them about mixing oil and water. Give each child a water bottle 3/4 full of water. You can add a drop or two of blue food coloring to make it more interesting. Go around with a funnel and fill each child’s bottle with vegetable oil, leaving about an inch at the top. Help each child secure the lid tightly on their bottle. If you have extra time and helpers, you may wish to seal the lids shut with fast-acting adhesive. Just be sure the glue is completely dry before returning the bottles to the kids. Tell the children to shake up their bottle as much as they can, and then see what happens. Explain that the oil and water do not mix together.
Cornstarch and Water
What child doesn’t love playing with goopy cornstarch and water? Fill a large bowl with cornstarch. If you are doing this as a class activity, use enough so that each child in the class will get to play with some of the goop. Let the kids see what cornstarch looks and feels like before adding water. Slowly add water to the bowl and mix it with your hands until you get a nice goopy consistency. You can let the kids help with the mixing. Pass out disposable plates and let each child grab a handful or two of goo. Give them plenty of time to play and experiment.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Fill a large cup or empty soda bottle about a quarter full with baking soda. A clear container works best so the kids can see everything that happens. Start pouring vinegar into the container. This will cause a bubbly, fizzy effect that the kids will love. To make it more interesting, make a paper mache volcano and add red food coloring to the mixture. The kids will love to see the volcano “erupt.”
Pour two-percent milk in the bottom of a pie tin. Add a few drops of food coloring and swirl it around, using different colors for a more dramatic effect. Ask your preschoolers to watch closely, and then place a drop of food coloring in the center of the tin. The colors will spread out, and you can expect the kids to be delighted at the effect! If you have a big group, consider doing this at centers in order to make sure everyone has a clear view.