Here are 7 exciting and challenging science experiments you can use to fill your child’s days with a little learning and a lot of fun. These activities are appropriate for children of all ages. Best of all, your family can complete these lessons in your backyard:
Hot Air Balloon
In addition to teaching your child about heat flow, this activity also helps energetic kids blow off some steam:
- Fill a dark-colored garbage bag with air by asking your child to hold it open while running around the yard.
- After the bag is filled with air, tie it off, sealing the air inside.
- Let the bag sit in the sunlight for a bit.
- Watch as the bag slowly starts to rise. Ask your child why this might be happening.
- Finally, explain to your child that the bag is rising because the air inside the garbage bag is now warmer than the air outside of the bag. What a perfect introduction to the concept of heat rising! Can you think of any real-life examples of heat flow in action… such as weather patterns or a hot air balloon, for example?
Plant a Garden
In addition to promoting healthy eating habits, this activity teaches your child about growing fruits and vegetables. Gardening together as a family is fulfilling and memorable for both parents and children:
- At the start of the week, tell your child not to throw away any seeds from the fruits and veggies they eat throughout the week.
- After your child spends a few days collecting seeds, it’s time to start your backyard garden. Explain to your child what the word organic means. Explain that this gardening project will last all spring and summer, after which, you’ll have an organic garden full of your child’s favorite edible foods.
- Discuss the types of plants that grow best in your area. This is a perfect opportunity to teach your child about choosing which fruits or vegetables to plant.
- After planting your chosen fruits and veggies, involve your child in a variety of garden-based activities. Some essential activities that you can complete together as a family include: churning the earth, tending to seedlings, watering plants, harvesting food and cooking delicious meals.
Could your child be a future chemist? Here’s one way to find out. This activity is great for discussing the roles of heat and cold in chemical reactions:
- Fill small baggies with vinegar.
- Cover paper towels with baking soda and add one towel per baggie.
- Leave the bags outside on a sunny day.
- Watch the bags closely. As the carbon dioxide inflates each bag, you’ll see each one rise and rise before finally popping.
This experiment teaches small children about biology, ecosystems, and the impact trees have on our environment. Stop and appreciate the small things in your own backyard while learning about backyard biology:
- Grab a magnifying glass (or, if you don’t already have one, make a DIY homemade magnifying glass.)
- Together with your child, walk through your backyard. As you walk, point out any interesting items, such as leaves, sticks, flowers, clovers and rocks.
- Examine your child’s favorite items under the magnifying glass. Discuss the role each item plays in your backyard ecosystem.
- Examine leaves to reveal the different species of trees in your yard. Finally, discuss the important role trees play in the environment and our lives.
Small children learn about the world through sensory play. If you have little ones, this is the perfect science activity to try at home:
- Combine baking soda with vinegar in a bowl. (For a fun, seasonal twist, you can substitute a hollowed out watermelon for the bowl.)
- Add a few drops of food coloring. To avoid synthetic dyes, you can make DIY food coloring from grape juice or turmeric.
- Let your toddlers or small children get messy with fizzy playtime! Watch as the “volcano” bubbles to the top and explodes.
Sink or Float
- Collect items from your backyard, like a rock, twig, leaf, flower, or clover.
- Place the items in a plastic tub of water.
- Talk to your children about density. Guess which items you think will sink or float.
- Watch the items to see if you were right!
When it comes to bridging the gap between education and entertainment, you need look no further than your backyard. Taking your kids’ education to the next level doesn’t mean you’ll have to transform into a scientist, botanist, or chemist. All it takes is a little creativity, a bit of effort, and a lot of enthusiasm.