Rainbow ice chalk and 3 other easy child-led science experiments

July 15 2013 | offbeatbride
Photos by Stephanie Kaloi.

We're big fans of science experiments and experiences in our home so I'm always on the lookout for fun things to try. I found these experiments at Reading Confetti and Science Bob, and knew we had to try them. I feel like it's only fair to warn you that each of these experiments has a certain degree of mess involved — there's a lot of corn starch in this post.

Without futher ado, let's get messy:

Rainbow Ice Chalk

What you need

  • corn starch
  • water
  • food coloring
  • ice tray

How you do it

  1. Mix together equal parts corn starch and water
  2. Add food coloring
  3. Freeze
  4. Take it outside and experiment!

Make clouds

My kid is a big fan of Bill Nye the Science Guy, and while watching the episode about water cycles he asked if we could make our own clouds. I figured we likely could, and found this video tutorial pretty quickly. Here's a photo version:

What you need

  • a jar of water
  • matches
  • spoon
  • tray of ice

How you do it

  1. To see cloud better, put black construction paper behind jar (or some other dark backdrop)
  2. Place match and lid on a table next to open jar.
  3. Heat about a cup of water to boiling, enough for it to steam plenty.
  4. CAREFULLY pour water in jar (make sure the jar isn't cold so the expanding glass doesn't shatter).
  5. Light match or paper (if using paper, first roll it up tightly so it burns more slowly).
  6. Extinguish lit object to cause smoking, then quickly drop into jar and cover.
  7. Watch cloud form.

Make a parachute

What you need

  • plastic bag
  • scissors
  • string
  • willing participant (tip: don't use a hard, plastic toy. Especially don't use a toy your husband has had since he was a small child, or be prepared to scurry to Ebay to buy a new one like, immediatley after launch.)

How you do it

  1. Cut your plastic bag into an octagon (I did this, but older kids could do this themselves. Bonus round: talk about shapes!)
  2. Attach string to the bag. I poked a hole with a thumbtack and threaded the embroidery thread through.
  3. Launch your parachute
  4. Succeed or fail! As you can see, Spidey didn't quite do so well, but my son and I both yelled, "In the name of SCIENCE!" when we were finished.

Quicksand

What you need

  • corn starch
  • water
  • spoon
  • bowl

How you do it

  1. Mix one cup of corn starch and 2/3 cup of water.
  2. Stir
  3. Adjust levels if necessary, mixture should be solid when you pick it up, liquid when dripping.
  4. Have fun/make a mess. Seriously, here's what my kitchen looked like after my son was finished:

I only had to mop three times to get it up. THREE TIMES. If you don't like messes, don't do this. Luckily I don't mind them… too much.

There are tons more experiments here — get nerdy!

  1. Yay science!

    One tip I want to pass on for anyone looking for science experiments/demonstrations for their kids. If you're not particularly savvy in science yourself, don't use pinterest. The amount of misinformation I have seen on there (most troubling is when they're pinned on homeschooling boards ๐Ÿ˜ ) is insane. And I'm not just talking about the fact there are a fair number of creationists on pinterest – no, they are attempting to do things such as say that making a rootbeer float is a chemical reaction.

    2 agree
    • Totally agree! I found the ice chalk on Pinterest and liked it a lot, but the rest are from the site linked at the bottom. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I saw on some blog (and of course now I can't remember which to link it) a recipe for ice chalk that replaced some of the cornstarch with baking soda – maybe half? or a quarter? Then after the kids are done drawing, they can squirt vinegar on it to make it bubble and fizz.

    1 agrees
  3. Due to the size of my browser window, I could only see the top half of the final picture…
    "Ha thats not a mess!!"
    *scroll down*
    "Oh…"

    1 agrees

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