Calling all mad scientists!
Here’s a formula for fun! I have yet to see a child not get excited by this activity! While it has many developmental objectives in and of itself, it is also a great attention-getter for a variety of other activities. Let’s talk about the how-to first, and the when-to later.
First gather your supplies. You’ll need liquid or powdered coloring, baking soda, vinegar, a baster, a cookie sheet or tray, and a few glass jars (I used 1 quart jars here, but other sizes work well too. Just do a quick run-through with the ones you choose so that you can anticipate whether or not you’re going to have any overflow. If you have access to test tubes and beakers that would be a great way to introduce chemistry tools and add more intrigue as well!)
Before your activity, place a drop of color into each jar. I’ve used both the powder and liquid forms and they both work great!
Next, cover each color with about a half to one full teaspoon of baking soda. Just make sure you’ve covered all of the coloring so that each jar looks the same.
Place all of your jars onto a cookie sheet or tray to catch any overflow. Add the baster and a jar of vinegar, which I’ve sometimes referred to as my “highly potent acid” to make things more enticing.
Now it’s time for the magic! Have the children gather vinegar with the baster and squirt it into the jars, and ………fizz, bubble, they reveal their hidden colors!
Now, as I mentioned, this activity fills a lot of objectives on its own. Fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination are strengthened as the children use the baster to add the vinegar. Additionally, it’s a great science activity as the children explore the reaction of the combined acid and base. Color recognition is reinforced as the children identify which color each jar holds. You could add a literacy aspect as well by including color name cards or labels to add to the corresponding jars.
This fun activity could also be included for a variety of other purposes as well!
I’ve been asked to help out with teaching songs to the children at my church from time to time, and have used this activity for that as well. I would use words or picture cues to teach the words to the song, each color coded, and then we would do this activity to reveal which clue would be removed as we continued to practice and memorize the song.
Use it to choose activities like chores, exercises, or even which food to eat off the dinner plate by listing the tasks and color-coding them. It’s amazing how much more excited the children are to finish their tasks when they know that once they’re finished they get to choose another with this method!
You could also use this as a dramatic play prop as children pretend to be scientists or magicians – just be sure you take necessary precautions to keep messes within acceptable bounds.
You could also always place them in the sensory table! Just be sure to prepare a lot of jars and pace yourself in bringing them out so that they aren’t all used up in the first two minutes. You could arrange your table with the color jars, basters, vinegar, and a bowl of baking soda with spoons to allow for the children to do more experimenting in between new jars. The children may even start combining the jars, introducing a little color mixing to the activity as well!
Let me know how you us this activity with the children you love and teach!
(Originally posted July 23, 2010.)
Erin @ Small Types says
Love this! Fizzy things are always a big hit with my boys, and the food coloring is a great addition! Thanks!
We do this after I’ve read Epposumandas Saves the Day! (Colleen Salley). An old story about an alligator full of “mean juice”! and a little possum’s birthday! I highly recommend the book! Epossumandas is his mama’s and his auntie’s sweet little Patootie!
Thanks for the recommendation, Debby. I’m always up for a good book!
Teacher Laura Oreamuno. says
I use vinegar and baking soda with red coloring to make our home made pay/dough volcanos do their explotion…! Science Teacher. Saint Anthony School ,San Jose,Costa Rica.
A timeless classic!
Oh my gosh, what a funny coincidence! Just a couple days ago, I was trying to come up with inspiration for our sensory bin. I found this post (the original one), and we went for it!
It was a hit. It pulled them both out of crabby moods (OK, me too), and into fun and experimentation. I put the jars in a large, shallow sterilite tub on their kiddy table in the kitchen. It worked out perfectly – surprisingly, it didn’t get very messy at all.
Thanks for all the great ideas!
We must be on the same wavelength. Glad to hear it got your kiddos out of a funk. Thanks for reading!
Christie-Childhood 101 says
What a fabulous way of presenting this activity, and I love your tips for incorporating it into chores and other scenarios.
I LOVE this idea, especially the part about using it to choose what’s next. I can only imagine how much easier things could be if she had this to get excited about… I’m thinking; put a little “tag” on the bottom, or a color coded chart? red = clean up your horses, green = clean up your Barbies? just to get her room clean. How FUN! Thanks… I’m always trying to find ways to make things more fun and easier!
Thanks for another wonderful idea! My three year old really enjoyed this as a colour mixing activity.
Thanks for sharing, Mia. I always love seeing these posts come to life for you!
I had so much fun today! I did this activity at our after-school program for at-risk kids and it was HIT! The best part was having two jars with one each of the primary colors and letting them explode and then mix to see what color it makes. They were screaming with excitement – it was incredible.
Thank you for letting me know, Leslie! It makes me excited just imagining those kids!
We do some fun vinegar and baking soda experiments at our school too and they are always a hit. Typically I put out little trays (with one inch sides) and 3 baby food jars of colored vinegar (yellow, red, blue), with pipettes (eyedroppers) in each jar and let the children explore what happens when they add the drops of colored vinegar into the pile of baking soda….. colorful fizzing. Seeing how blue and yellow make green, for instance is always a big hit. They literally cannot get enough, so be sure to have plenty of bags of baking soda (available in bulk at ‘Smart ‘n Final’) and colored vinegar. The children eventually use up all the liquid and could then manipulate with their hands and form into shapes. Best part about this project though is that it could simply go right down the sink because of course vinegar and baking soda will help clean the drains.
Another awesome thing to do with the kiddos is pour a bit of vinegar into a glass bottle, then with a balloon and a funnel, have children scoop a couple tablespoons of baking soda through the funnel into balloon. Carefully place end of balloon over the top of bottle. When ready, lift the balloon so that the contents pour into the bottles opening (releasing the baking soda into the vinegar). Watch the reaction when the baking soda and vinegar meet. It literally blows up the balloon. Most impressive.
What a great idea with so many applications and learning opportunities. Am sharing on Pinterest.
bindu batra says
i am an educationist would be interested in all ur work ….wonderful as they r
Children Fantasia says
Great experiment. By following the step by step procedure will end up to a great magic for preschoolers. Having fun doing this with my little one. Thanks a lot.
Cadieux et Langevin says
Cool! kids will love 😉
We just found this and my three year old son and three year old niece just had a blast!!! Thank you so much!!