Creating activities and lessons in science for kids can be challenging, but it can also be a lot of fun. It can be hard to find an activity that will keep kids engaged, but also learning. This activity did both!
In my experience, creating activities that are hands-on is the easiest way to engage kids. Children naturally want to explore and learn about the world around them.
I tried this experiment in the past when I taught science for kids in grade 2. It is part of our curriculum for kids to learn about liquids and solids. However, I used the materials again with a kindergarten class, and they loved it!
The experiment helps young children gain an understanding that not all liquids are the same. Even if two liquids look the same, they may behave differently and have different characteristics
This science for kids also looks at a variety of solid materials and children looked to find differences and similarities.
Thinking critically and truly observing the different liquids and solids helps widen children’s understanding of other liquids and solids that they come across in their daily lives.
We looked at the colour, movement and even how the liquid coated the sides. For the solids children looked at colours, movement and what happened when they shook the container.
Materials – Liquids and Solids
All of the materials that I used in the jars, are materials that I had at home. You can use the same as I used, but you can also simply use what you have on hand. As long as you use a variety, then the experiment will work.
You will need:
- Clear Spice Jars (I used 11)
- Plastic Wrap
- White Paint
- Coarse Salt
- Finger Lights
- Magnifying Glasses
I put some of each liquid and solid into a jar. For the liquids, I also placed a layer of plastic wrap and then closed the jar. I then hot glued the lid onto each jar to avoid any messes if a jar was opened.
I labeled the lid to each jar with a letter A-K. Since I was working with a large group of children, I made 4 jars of each material. This way when children worked in groups, each group had their own set of jars. Next, the fun began!
Science for Kids – The Steps
To start, I handed out jars to each of the groups. Together we went through each of the jars and everyone predicted what they thought the material inside the jar was.
Once everyone had predicted, I then handed out magnifying glasses to each child.
I love using magnifying glasses because if encourages children to make careful observations. But I also use them because children often comment that they make them feel like real scientists.
Children used the magnifying glasses to inspect each of the jars. I encouraged them to look at the materials and even shake the jars to see what happens.
This is part of the reason that I glue the lids shut – because I want the jars to be shaken without anything coming out. I also seal them because I don’t want the lids taken off and children touching the liquids and solids inside.
As children shook the jars, they listened to the sounds that the materials made. They also noticed when shaking the liquids that some liquids moved really quickly and easily in the jar (water). Others did not (honey).
This caused a great discussion on viscosity and encouraged children to take note of the differences in the liquids that they otherwise see and use all the time. They now knew that the honey was not apple juice because apple juice does not move in the same way.
After all of the jars had been inspected, I passed out finger lights. If you have never used finger lights before, they are amazing and I use them with my kids all the time! For experiments like these, they guarantee that children will be engaged!
I turned out enough lights so that children could see the light from the finger light.
One of the key concepts that I wanted children to notice with this science for kids was the fact that the materials were all different.
Some were see through, or transparent, and others were solid, or opaque, and they could not see through them. We used the finger lights to test for all of these things.
Children shone the light through the liquids and solids and checked if it went through or if it was ‘trapped’ by the substance.
Everyone was mesmerized by the finger lights. They were excited to try them and experiment with them. They were definitely the highlight of the activity.
I introduced the idea of transparent, translucent and opaque to children as they tested the jars.
Everyone tested if the light went through by holding their hand on the opposite side of the jar. If the light appeared on their hand they knew that the material was either transparent (let all light through aka. clear) or translucent (let some light through).
If no light shone onto their hand, they knew that the material was opaque (no light is let through aka solid).
Children were so excited to test out each of the jars and I loved hearing them describe what they found by saying, “This liquid is transparent” or “Jar C is translucent”. They were engaged and learning!
Once all of the jars had been tested, we talked about how children would describe each jar. I.e. Was jar A, transparent, translucent or opaque? What other science words could you use to describe what is in the jar?
This science for kids activity worked well as a great way to learn in a hands-on way.
I took the last 5 minutes of the period to listen to everyone’s guesses for what was in the containers after they had tested them, and then told them what the substance was.
If you are interested in what I put in each of my jars: A- Soda pop, B-honey, C- water, D- oil, E- white paint, F – gravel, G- cereal, H- peppercorn, I- coarse salt, J- flour, K- sparkles.
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