When it comes to raising an energetic boy, I’ve learned a lot of things.
- How the opportunity to urinate outside is one of a boy’s greatest joys.
- The catch-phrases of every pup from Paw Patrol.
- The lure of a mud puddle or pile of dirt.
But as much as anything, I’m realizing that my boy loves to know how things work. (And I know girls do, too.) And without a background in education, science or technology, sometimes I feel a little underprepared as a parent.
And I know I’m not alone.
We know about the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) in education. Most studies show that the U.S. lags behind the developed world when it comes to science in education – which means we have a true learning gap in these fields as our kids grow up and enter the workplace. But the truth is, many kids actually show interest in these subjects and we can help open the doors for them. And we can even open those doors early.
Because if my son wants to be a world famous scientist or engineer, who am I to stop him? (Dream big, momma.)
So we’ve been trying a lot of simple at-home experiments that help open my son’s mind to science and think about how things work. None of these are fancy or in-depth, but it gives kids a chance to try experiments at home.
My son loves them all – the fizzier and messier, the better. If you are looking for some ideas to bring science into the lives of your toddlers and preschoolers, here are a few of our tried-and-tested ideas. (Most of these were recommended to me by my friend Jen, who is a wonderful middle school science teacher.)
This has been a runaway hit in our house this winter.
For this easy slime recipe, ask your child to pour a full bottle of white glue into a bowl. Add food coloring to the glue. Then, dissolve a tablespoon of Borax into a 1/2 cup of warm water. Slowly pour the warm water into the glue, while mixing with a spoon. The slime will start to form and should be flexible but not sticky.
Another favorite, this is a fun way to talk about the reactions of baking soda and vinegar.
Build a base of a volcano using a cup and foil on a paper plate. Add baking soda and food coloring to the inside of the volcano. Then count down to the eruption and dump in the vinegar for the “explosion.”
Magic Milk Paint
Fill a pan with milk and place drops of food coloring on top of the milk.
Then your child can tap a q-tip coated in dish soap on the milk. The explosion is fun for kids and it’s a great way to reinforce color identification. (When the colors are mixed, we like to use the q-tips to paint on paper towels.)
What experiments do your kids love?