Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Exploring Liquid Densities with Colored Water and Vinegar

The idea that liquids can have different densities can be a very abstract idea for a preschooler to grasp.  However playing with different liquids in a fun way can be a great way to explore and develop an intuition for the concept.  At least they will learn that not all liquids mix together (like paint).  This is a great stand alone activity or is an optional activity to reinforce the ideas explored in the float-sink blast (which introduces the idea of liquid densities).

To play with the idea of liquids having different densities we used oil, vinegar and water. Vinegar and water have very similar densities and will mix while oil has a lighter density and won't mix.

We started with multiple small containers filled with either vinegar or water.  We colored them with food coloring just for fun.   In larger containers we had water or oil.  Bug started by pouring pink (her favorite into the first container)

She was so excited to see what would happen!  The pink just became more diluted in the water.  We repeated with the next container of water by adding vinegar and the same thing happened.  It became more dilute as well.

She realized the oil container looked different and so she was very excited to pour something in here.

Needless to say she was totally fascinated when the vinegar balled up under the oil.  I think her first thought was that the green liquid was something special as she immediately poured it into the first pink water container.

The pink and green mixed together and made "brown" which was not so exciting but still fun.  She then asked if she could add some baking soda to the oil with the green.

She waited with excitement as the baking soda sank through the oil and onto the vinegar where....

... it began to fizz!!!

and form "flowers" as the bubbles rose to the surface.  

She then began to play mixing different combinations.

Which either diluted colors or made new colors.  

Of course we have to add baking soda!

and watch it bubble up!  She quickly caught on that the more purple (i.e. added more blue vinegar) she made her combination the more it would bubble up!

She loved to hear the fizzing and would often put her ear near the surface.  The bubble spray would tickle her face making for a great multi-sensory experience.

Good old oil and water looked a little plain and boring next to all the bubbling excitement.

Even daddy could not stay out of the fun and soon was helping to make even more bubbles.

Bug probably played with this for over 40 minutes and did not want to stop.  Overall this was a great multi-sensory experience allowing us to see how colors changed when mixed, hearing and feeling the results of reactions, and provided for a fun chance to introduce new vocabulary like diluted or concentrated and density.  


  • spoon
  • containers
  • water
  • oil
  • baking soda
  • food coloring


  1. Take two small containers, one with water and one with vinegar, and add food coloring to color.
  2. Add water to two larger containers (filled 1/3)
  3. Add oil to two more larger containers (filled 1/3)
  4. Allow the child to pour different amounts of colored liquids into the different containers.
    1. Encourage the following combinations:
      1. water and water (dilutes)
      2. water and vinegar (dilutes)
      3. water and oil (water sinks to the bottom)
      4. water and oil (vinegar sinks to the bottom)
  5. Take a spoonful of baking soda and add it to each one combination.  Only those with vinegar will react.
  6. Allow the child to play and explore.  What will happen if they add more vinegar to the water (hint the color gets darker and there will be more bubbles - signs that there is more vinegar).
  7. Encourage the child to guess what will happen before each step - encouraging the formation of hypotheses.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dancing Raisins

Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean have been experimenting a lot with floating and sinking the past few weeks, and now they are starting to ask more in depth questions.  Their curious minds are starting to get creative.  Jelly Bean asked, "Mommy, can we make something that sinks, float?"  Great question I thought to myself, so I started to do some research.

First, we put raisins into a glass of plain water.  The raisins sank, which was not good because I told the girls I knew magic.  I could make raisins dance.  So far, they are not impressed.

We sat there and thought about it.  What if we changed something?  The girls both shouted, let's change the water!  They wanted to change the water green or red so we tried that, but again, nothing.

After talking awhile, I asked the girls if mommy ever drinks water that is different than theirs.  Yes, and it has bubbles!  We grabbed another glass and added bubbly water to it.  Then, the magic happened.  After dropping the raisins into the water, bubbles started to form.  Lots of bubbles!

Then, the magic happened.  After dropping the raisins into the water, bubbles started to form.  Lots of bubbles!  Raisins started to raise to the top and then sink back to the bottom of the glass.  The girls watched with amazement.

Finally, all the raisins were dropped into the glass.  Jumping Bean asked, "Now what?  What else can we drop into the glass?"  The two ran over to the pantry and grabbed fruit snacks.  Unfortunately, fruit snacks sink, but they had fun eating the rest!

Dancing Raisins Activity-

glass to hold water
tap water
bubbly water (soda water)

1. Predict what will happen when raisins are dropped into water.
2. Next, look at bubbly water and compare it to tap water.
3. Drop raisins into the bubbly water.
4. Watch to see what happens.

Why this happens-
The raisins begin to dance (sink, float to the top, and sink again) because the bubbles in the water are trapped underneath the raisin.  Once there are enough bubbles trapped, the raisin floats.  Eventually, the bubbles pop, and the raisin sinks again.  The process starts over again.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Floating and Sinking Balloons

It is always fun to find new ways to explore the concept of floating and sinking.  I love it when you find an activity that allows you to reduce and control your test variables, so that you are not throwing everything into the water to see if it floats or sinks.  This activity explores if balloons filled with air or water would sink or float in water.  We originally saw the inspiration for this idea over at Teach Preschool.

To setup the experiment, I filled three yellow balloons with increasing amounts of air and three green balloons with increasing (and similar) amounts of water.  Then, I filled a large bowl with water.  I also had two balloons (one of each color) completely empty.  Bug was excited to get started.  Before each step I asked her to guess what was going to happen to each balloon.

The two empty balloons floated much to her surprise.  She then took the next pair of balloons (the smallest filled balloons).  We discussed how they felt different - which one was heavier and which one was lighter.  Again I asked her to guess what would happen when we put it in the water.  She guessed the yellow (air) would sink because it was larger.

She was amazed when it floated.  She then correctly guessed the green would sink because it was heavier. We continued working through balloons of increasing size.  She correctly hypothesized that the heavier one would sink each time.  She was also highly amused at mommy acting out the water molecules when they saw a big green balloon coming.  

The large balloon filled with water was very heavy for her to lift, and it made a big splash when she put it in.

We also took some time to make sure that the balloons that floated were given some attention as well.  We stopped to see how they barely touched the water.  She even tried throwing them at the water and they bounced right off!

We continued to play and explore.  Bug really liked pushing balloons under the water and letting go to see what would happen or comparing balloons of different sizes.

You may see some markings on the side of our bowl in the above picture.  To find out more about an activity related to those markings, sign up for the littleblast newsletter before January 24th.

Also, I left everything out after we were done and Little Bear (18 months) discovered it after her nap. Although I don't have any pictures, I can tell you that she had a lot of fun dropping balloons into the water.  She was soaked by the end from all the splashing!

Overall this was a great activity to introduce how the mass (how heavy) the object was affected if it would sink or float in water.



  • 8 balloons (4 each of 2 different colors)
  • Large bowl with water (big enough so that the balloons don't touch the bottom)
  • Towel to cover your work surface if you are doing this inside


  1. Take your first color of balloons and fill with differing amounts of air.
  2. Take the second color of balloons and fill with differing amounts of water (match the size of the air balloons as close as possible).
  3. Invite the child to drop different balloons into the water.   Ask them to guess if it will float or sink before they drop it in.
  4. Have fun!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Floating and Sinking Fruit Collage

It is another day too cold for us to play outside while visiting Grandma and Papa in Iowa.  Again, we will bring some winter fun inside!  Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean want to make a present for Grandma and Papa so we decide to make a fruit collage while experimenting with floating and sinking.  This was a great experiment to couple with the Floating and Sinking BLAST.

First, we need some fruit.  I think Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean had the most fun searching the refridgerator for fruit to add to the collage (just because they thought they could sneak a few bites of the chocolate pie that was inside the fridge).

Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean love to help with baking and cooking, so they got to practice their knife skills.

Next, we looked at the fruits and veggies and predicted if each would float or sink and placed our predictions in the correspondingly labelled container.

Once our predictions were made, the girls dropped pieces of fruit and veggies in a container of water.  Then, the container of water went outside overnight to freeze. 


Voila, the master piece- a new decoration for Grandma and Papa's front porch.

We had fun predicting what would float and sink, and for the most part, Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean made accurate predictions- 8 out of 11 correct.  There were a few surprises, even for mommy!  Did you know that a sliced apple floats?  Check it out!

Floating and Sinking Fruit Experiment


  • fruit or vegetables
  • water
  • bowl for freezing water
  • 2 containers labeled float or sink


1.  Pick a variety of fruits and vegetables.
2.  Cut or peel any if necessary.
3.  Predict if each fruit or vegetable will float or sink and place in the labeled container.
4.  Fill a bowl with water.
5.  One at a time, drop a piece of fruit or vegetable into the water.
6.  Discuss the outcome.
7.  Place any remaining pieces of fruit or vegetables in the water.
8.  Place outside or in the freezer over night.
9.  Display your collage if possible.


Go to for more fun, hands-on ice activities for your preschoolers!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Snow and Ice, A Melting Race

Jumping Bean and Jelly Bean really enjoyed playing in the snow and ice over the winter break, especially as we live in an area that is generally too warm for snow.   The girls were intrigued as to how the snow and ice felt and looked different.  We decided to test the difference by seeing which melted faster.  The house was unusually warm because the heat was turned up higher than normal - the temperature was -15 when we woke up this morning.  With the air pretty warm, we talked about how the hot water melted the ice faster than the other substances in our Ice BLAST.

First, we looked at the two cups filled with ice and snow.  Jumping Bean and Jelly Bean both agree that the ice and snow are cold, but of course, they always have to disagree about something.  Jumping Bean thinks the ice is colder, and Jelly Bean thinks the snow is colder.

Next, we drew a picture and labelled each cup.  I was pretty amazed at how they were able to draw pictures that closely resembled the two objects.  Finally, the girls circled the picture that they predicted would melt faster.  Again, different opinions.

We looked at the time on the clock, and it said 11:30.  Now we wait to see.

Every 5 minutes or so, the girls would run to the cups, and they quickly came to the conclusion that the snow melts faster.  But, that didn't stop them from checking until all the snow and ice was melted.

Surprisingly, it took the snow an hour to melt.  I thought it would be faster.  The ice took over 5 hours to completely melt!

We all had fun learning more about ice and snow melting.  I am proud to say that my two little scientists are starting to question why something happens.  Today, they asked why it took the ice so long to melt.  Now, I need to start looking for activities on solids, liquids, and gases to keep my two curious minds exploring.


  • 2 cups
  • ice
  • snow
  • clock


1.  Fill one cup with ice and one with snow
2.  Note the time
3.  Check occasionally until completely melted, noting end time