Science enables children to learn about the world around them, be inquisitive and ask questions about why things happen and how things work. It enables a child to explore, problem solve, observe, predict, think and make decisions and talk about the world that we live in. Questioning them about what they think will happen will help them to communicate, investigate and record their findings.
As Albert Einstein quotes, “The important thing is no never stop questioning.”
Below you will find investigations for you to do with your child. If your child is 2.5, it will be mainly about playing and discussing what is happening. The scientific explanation will be a little advanced for them at this age but don’t let this put you off doing the investigations. My daughter loved seeing the rainbow explosion, an egg in salty water float and ice change to water. She was so excited by the Egg investigation that she repeated it with Daddy at the weekend!
- You will need: Vinegar, food colouring, baking powder or barcarbinate of soda.
- Get 3 or 4 small containers (we used Indian take away sauce containers for poppadoms)
- Fill your containers three quarters full of baking power or bicarbonate of soda.
- Place a few drops of food colouring in the containers and mix together.
- Pour in the vinegar to the top and watch the mixture fizz and explode!
- Mix the colours together and discuss what is happening.
The Ice and Liquid Investigation
For this investigation you can introduce your child to liquid and solid. It’s another excuse to play with water while adding a science element to it at the same time!
Kit and Pup is a brilliant science series for children, each episode lasting only 5 minutes long. Here are the ones on water and ice.
- The night before, freeze some water with some toys inside. We chose duplo, cars and a horse. We also froze some water to make ice cubes and a cup with water in it too.
- You will need: the ice, spoons, a container of cold water, a container of boiling water and two labels.
- Bring the ice to your tray.
- Boil the kettle and place some boiling water, which is only touched by you, in a container. Warm water doesn’t melt the ice fast enough.
- Have another container at the ready, with cold water in it.
- Pour the cold water over the iced duplo and discuss how the ice, which is a solid stays the same and no change happens.
- Pour the boiling water over the iced duplo and watch how the boiling water melts the ice and changes the ice from a solid into a liquid.
My daughter loved watching the ice melt away and change from a solid into a liquid. We reboiled the kettle and repeated the investigation with the cars, horse, ice cubes and cup. Then of course, it turned into water play!
Carrying on with the liquid theme!
- Place a range of containers in the bath.
- When having a bath, discuss that the water is a liquid and encourage your child to move the water from container to container.
- Extension: Discuss how the water stays the same amount but moves and adjusts to its container.
The Egg Investigation
This is an excellent investigation, one of my favourites! It gives your child the chance to predict what they think will happen and use their observational skills.
- You will need: salt, a clear container (such as a glass), one fresh egg, a bowl and a teaspoon.
- Explain to your child what sink (the egg will go down) and float (the egg will go up) means.
- Fill up you your container with water.
- Place the egg carefully in the glass of water.
- Ask your child what is happening to the egg. Is it floating? Encourage them to use the word ‘sink’.
- Take out the egg and mix in a teaspoon of salt. Mixing is important or the investigation won’t work.
- Place the egg back in the water. Has anything happened to the egg? Is it floating or sinking? Nothing has probably happened at this stage.
- Repeat by mixing in more teaspoons of salt. We needed to add 4 teaspoons before the egg would float.
- To consolidate, you can pour another glass of water and transfer the egg between the normal water and the salty water to compare the two.
Challenge: Your child could write a table to record their results by writing yes or no or placing a cross or a tick.
For this investigation, you are looking at which car will go down the slope the fastest. You will be changing the height of one of the ramps to create a more gentle slope.
- You will need: cars, to make some sort of ramp – we cut out an Amazon box. Make two ramps of the same length and size.
- Park the cars on the sofa. Place the two ramps next to each other on the sofa.
- Your child is in charge of one car and then you will be in charge of the other. Count down from 3 and then both of you let go of your cars (which hopefully should end up on the floor at the same time!)
- Lower one of the ramps and repeat the same process, counting down from 3. Discuss why the lowered ramp made the car travel slower. The steeper the ramp, the faster the car will travel.
- You will need: a baking tray, whole milk, cotton buds, washing up liquid in a bowl and food colouring.
- Place enough milk in your baking tray to cover the bottom.
- Add drops of food colouring to the milk. If they start to mix talk to your child about colour mixing and how when two colours mix they form a new colour.
- Dip the cotton bud into the washing up liquid and put it in the milk.
- Watch as the colours mix into each other.
- Once the colours have stopped mixing you can add more food colouring and repeat the process.
- And of course, keep mixing!
Tasting Coloured Spaghetti
Coloured food is deceiving for children. Most of them will probably think that because the spaghetti is a different colour, it will taste different.
- You will need: spaghetti that is already cooked and food colouring.
- Cook the spaghetti and then add different colours of food colouring. Make sure you have one normal spaghetti that has not been coloured.
- Ask your child to predict if they think the coloured spaghetti will all taste the same.
- Taste the spaghetti, one colour at a time and see what it tastes like. Do they all taste the same? Your child could write their results on a table.
- Lastly, we ate the muticoloured spaghetti for lunch! Yummy!