Toddlers are constantly touching and tasing things, learning about their world by interacting with it. This is instinctive and developmental, but it can also create a safety nightmare for parents! At a center for child care NSW, your child’s natural curiosity can be indulged with some supervised activities and experiments that are highly educational and safe, but feel like play. Here are some activities frequently conducted in childcare centres that will get your little ones actively engaged in science.
Learning With Colour
Children learn about colour blending and water absorption through these fun activities:
- Coloured drip paint: This activity requires paper towels, liquid watercolours or food colouring, ice cube trays, and paintbrushes. The colours go in the ice cube trays, diluted slightly with water. The children use paint brushes to colour their paper towels; they are fascinated to watch a small tap of colour spread out across their “canvas.”
- Coloured flowers: Children enjoy watching flowers change colour through this fun experiment, which requires white carnations in glass or plastic containers and liquid food colouring. 10-15 drops of colouring should be stirred into each jar and the carnation placed into it after giving its stem a fresh cut. The flowers will absorb the colouring and change over the course of a few hours. By the next day the colours could be quite vivid. The experiment could be replicated and changed by using different types of flowers or different amounts of food colouring.
- Chemical reactions: Using baking soda and vinegar, children can create a basic chemical reaction and enjoy making some colourful art. Supplies include foil trays, white vinegar, baking soda, ice cube trays, straws or pipettes, and liquid watercolours. Each child gets a tray filled with baking soda. Each ice cube tray is filled with vinegar and a variety of watercolors. A pipette or straw is used to place several droplets of coloured vinegar on the baking soda tray, causing the baking soda to bubble and absorb the colour. The process continues until the baking soda is completely coloured.
The physical reaction that turns a liquid into a solid as water becomes ice, and the reverse process that takes a solid cube of ice and melts it to a liquid, is an endlessly fascinating concept for children of this age. Here are some activities with ice that are both educational and fun.
- Ice Age activity: Small toys are placed in a plastic bin full of water and placed in the freezer to turn into a block of ice. For the activity, the ice block with encased treasures is placed in a large plastic tub along with syringes, spoons, and some containers of water and rock salt. Children must problem-solve and use teamwork to free the toys from the ice.
- Melting Elsa’s hands: Children practice fine motor skills by filling latex gloves with colourful, glittery beads, ribbon, buttons, and other small trinkets. The gloves are then filled with water, tied off at the wrist, and placed on a baking sheet to freeze overnight. The next day, the latex is removed by running them under chilled tap water and gently cutting off with scissors. The children are each given a frozen hand, rock salt, table salt, and water, along with a variety of tools, such as syringes, turkey basters, scoops and spoons, and they work to melt Elsa’s hands.
Mixing Oil and Water
We all know oil and water don’t mix, but it’s fun to watch children figure that out. Here are some activities that use oil and water to amaze kids.
- Bubbling over: This experiment requires a clear container, water coloured with food colouring, vegetable oil, and Alka Seltzer tablet pieces. Pour vegetable oil into the container to 3/4 full. Then the coloured water is poured in, leaving space at the top. The children then take turns dropping the tablets into the container. (Careful supervision is needed to keep the pieces out of little mouths!)
- Oil and water drops: In this activity, children use straws, syringes or pipettes to drop baby oil into multi-coloured water in clear cups. They are enthralled to watch the bubbles and the colours mix and separate.
Children are naturally curious and love exploring their environment. These are just a few ways to stimulate their senses and introduce them to the fascinating world of science.