Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bubble Sizing: Small to Giant Bubbles!

What do a splash pool, 5 gallon drum, a hula hoop and super homemade bubble solution give you?  Giant bubbles of course!

All kids love bubbles which made this activity great for kids of all ages (mom and dad included!).   We explored how different sized bubble blowers would make different sized bubbles.  We started with two different sized circles - one small made from a pipe cleaner and a diving ring.

The question was which one would blow bigger bubbles.  First we tested the pipe cleaner (smaller) blower and it blew ....

 ... smaller bubbles.  These are the kinds of bubbles you expect to see when blowing bubbles.  Then we tested the diving ring - Bug correctly guessed that it would make bigger bubbles but I don't think she was expecting the size bubble that she blew:

Then I pulled out a hula hoop (surprise!).  This was so big it would not fit in the bucket so we poured our solution into a splash pool.  Dipped the hula hoop and made:  GIANT BUBBLES!

Don't you love the look on their faces!   I don't think they were expecting one so big.  We even put them in a bubble:

We loved all the colors we could see in the bubbles.   

Bug loved making giant bubbles too!

We hope you enjoy making giant bubbles and exploring bubble sizes!

We tried a few recipes and found that this homemade solution from happy hooligans gave us the best results.  The best part was we had most of the ingredients at home (water, baking powder, detergent, cornstarch and glycerine) and had enough to make a super large batch.  We also learned a couple of tips along the way:

  1. After making the solution wait at least an hour - we found waiting a day worked really well.
  2. Don't do this on a windy day as your bubbles will pop quickly.
  3. Don't give up if it does not seem to be working the first few times.  Keep trying for about 5 minutes as we found the more you played with it the better it was at making bubbles.
  4. You need to lift the hula hoop rather quickly to make bubbles that rise as columns out of the solution.
  5. To make a bubble that trails behind you, dip the hula hoop into the solution and then lift about a foot above the pool and stop until the bubble solution closes off and you have a film over the surface of the hula hoop.  Then walk backwards to make the giant bubble.  We found waving our arms slowly up and down made the longest bubbles.  

This recipe will make a few gallons of bubble solution which works really well with a splash pool.  Scale down if you are wanting to make a smaller batch.


  • splash pool
  • small hula hoop, pipe cleaner bend into a small circle blower, diving ring
  • 5 gallon drum for storing the bubble solution
  • 48 cups of cold tap water (distilled is suggested but we just used tap water)
  • 4 cups of regular detergent (we used Kirkland Brand regular dish soap)
  • 4 cups of cornstarch
  • 8 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 8 Tbsp Glycerine
  1. In the 5 gallon bucket slowly stir together the corn starch, baking powder and water until as much corn starch as possible has dissolved.
  2. Stir in the detergent and the glycerine.  Do this slowly to minimize bubbles being formed.
  3. Leave to sit for an hour.
  4. Slowly pour into the splash pool and carefully mix as some of the corn starch will have come out of solution.  Mix slowly to minimize the amount of foam on the surface.  These bubbles take a while to pop.
  5. Dip in your pipe cleaner and predict the size of the bubbles and then blow bubbles to test.
  6. Dip in the diving ring and predict the size of the bubbles and then blow bubbles to test.
  7. Dip in your hula hoop and lift to make giant bubbles.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bubbles: Experimenting with the Reaction of Oil, Water, and Alka Seltzer

Most kids think of bubbles being formed by dipping a wand into bubble solution and blowing, but bubbles are formed by many different causes in nature such as waves crashing into rocks.   Another way bubbles can be formed is during a reaction and a simple experiment to visualize this was posted at Little Hands for Little Bins.  This experiment involves reacting Alka Seltzer, water and oil to make colored bubbles in a glass and is a great extension to the other bubble activities from our Bubble BLAST.

The supplies you need to conduct this experiment (oil, water, Alka Seltzer and food coloring) are easy to find and good chances you have them around the house already.  Which makes this a great experiment to do when you are looking for something to keep little minds busy.

First, we poured the oil into the container filling it about 2/3 of the way up.  Jelly Bean is focused on pouring just the right amount of oil.  

Then we added the water.  The the girls had fun watching the oil and water separate as they poured. The girls expected the layers to form since we learned about different densities in our Float-Sink BLAST

Next, we added the food coloring.  The girls just squeezed several drops in and did not mix the solution.  It was neat to see the food color stay little colored blobs.  Since we had both liquid food coloring and gel food coloring, we decided to test both.  Jelly Bean is using red gel food coloring, and Jumping Bean is using green liquid food coloring. 

After dropping pieces of Alka Seltzer into the water and oil mixture, bubbles started to form.  The exciting part was that colored bubbles rose up through the oil!  Both food colorings (gel and liquid) worked well, but we thought the green food coloring was easier to see.

Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean loved watching the bubbles form in the water and oil, but I think they had even more fun shaking their containers at the end and watching the mixture settle into their natural layers. 
What happened in this experiment:  First, we explored how oil and water do not mix and separate into different layers.  We also saw that the food coloring passed through the oil and settled in the water layer.  Second, we dropped the Alka Seltzer tablet into the water where it reacted to form carbon dioxide bubbles.  As the bubbles rose to the surface they would carry bits of food coloring with them (like we saw with the dancing raisins).  At the surface, they would pop and the food coloring would sink back down through the oil to the water layer.

  • clear container (we used a mason jar and a lid is not required unless you want to shake the mixture to watch it settle to its natural layers after the Alka Seltzer has finished bubbling)
  • water
  • oil
  • Alka Seltzer
  • food coloring
  1. Pour oil into the container- about 2/3 full.
  2. Pour water into the container until it is almost full.
  3. Watch as the water and oil separate.
  4. Add drops of food coloring.
  5. Break up 2-3 Alka Seltzer tablets into small pieces.  Make sure you do not have the lid on your container at this point - it could become explosive with the lid.  
  6. Drop pieces of Alka Seltzer into the container.
  7. Watch as colored bubbles float to the top and sink back down to the bottom.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cube (or Square) Bubbles!

Typically when we think of bubbles, we think of the round or spherical shape but did you know that you can blow a cube bubble?

Well you can!  Much to the excitement of both mom and the kids.

How did we do this - we use cut some of our straws into 1.5 inch pieces, and then connected them together to form a cube:

I really liked using the straws and connectors because the connectors gave us a great area to hold onto when we lifted the cube out of the bubble solution.   Also it was easy for the kids to assemble.  We also tried pipe cleaners and it worked just fine but it was more of a mommy assembly than a kids assembly.

We dipped the straw and connector cube into a concentrated bubble solution.  Rolled it over a few times to coat all the sides and then lifted it out.

A couple of tips with the solution and dipping:
  1. Use a really good bubble solution (we really like beeboo Big Bubble Mix [associate link]).  Dish soap bubble solution (even with glycerin) was just not as good at making square or cube bubbles.
  2. Make the bubble solution concentrated to make strong bubbles.  
  3. Hold onto the end of the connector so you don't 'pop' a side of your bubble - little fingers will have to be reminded.
  4. Remove the cube from the bubble solution from one corner first.    
  5. Be sure to pop all your bubbles on the cube before re-dipping to repeat.
  6. Don't do it outside on a windy day.  Your bubbles will blow away.

This gave us a square shape in the middle of the bubble film.

But we wanted a bubble cube.   So we dipped a straw into the bubble solution and placed it near the square and gently blew a bubble onto the square, and it settled as a cube.

Note how even as a cube, the edges are not straight.

We hope you will have as much fun as we did with this experiment.


  • 5 Tbsp bubble concentrate
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 8 connectors
  • 12 straws of equal length
  • 1 drinking straw

  1. Build a cube out of straws and connectors.
  2. Prepare the bubble solution by mixing the concentrate and water.  For stronger bubbles it is suggested you leave the solution in the fridge overnight.
  3. Dip the cube into the bubble solution, roll the cube and lift from one corner.
  4. Once you have a square bubble, take your straw and dip it in the bubble solution, place it near the square and gently blow onto the square.  A cube bubble should appear.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bubbles: Predicting Which Solution Makes the Best Bubbles

Bubbles, bubbles, everywhere!  It is finally nice outside and time to get out the bubbles!  Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean love to play with bubbles, but today we decided to conduct an experiment with our bubbles.  The question: what will happen to the bubbles when a substance is added to bubble solution?  Will the bubbles form, will they get bigger, or will the bubbles last forever (that was a common prediction)?

First, we had to make our bubble solution. This bubble solution is your common, everyday bubbles made of water and dishsoap.

After dividing our bubble solution into six cups, we added a different substance to each one. Here, the girls added honey and food coloring. To their amazement, the different liquids layered like the liquids from our Float-Sink BLAST showing the different densities.

Now, the fun begins- blowing bubbles to see how they will change. We started with regular bubbles and had fun blowing and popping the bubbles.

Jumping Bean had a great idea! Make our own wands similar to the ones from our Bubbles BLAST.

The colored solution actually made colored bubbles! It was fun seeing green bubbles floating around in the air.

Experimenting with the bubbles was a lot of fun!  We were all surprised by some of the outcomes.  The bubble solution, without anything added, surprisingly did not make the best bubbles.  They popped pretty quickly.  The solution with molasses made terrible bubbles!  They didn't form at all.  The mixture with sugar didn't form well either.  The sugar didn't dissolve and stuck to our wands.

And, Jelly Bean's conclusion was that the bubble solution with honey made the best bubbles because they are stickier!  Bubbles with oil came in a close second.  The oil made the solution slippery which made the bubbles come off the wand easier.  At least according to four year olds.


  • water
  • dishsoap
  • 6 containers (we used cups)
  • 1/6 cup of each substance- honey, food coloring, oil, molasses, sugar
  • spoon for mixing
  • bubble wands
  • tape
  • marker

  1. Make the bubble solution by mixing one cup water with 1/3 dishsoap in each container.
  2. Stir until incorporated.
  3. Add 1/6 cup of each substance into one cup of the bubble solution. 
  4. Mix well.
  5. Label each container with the substance inside.
  6. Make predictions about what will happen to the bubbles with the different substances mixed in.
  7. Blow bubbles!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Keeping Seeds From Breaking: Parachute Water Balloon Experiment

We have explored how plants grow from seeds and how trees can protect their seeds, but we also want to explore how seeds get dispersed.  Some seeds are way up high in the trees and without protection (like fruit), they might have a bumpy landing.   One mechanism plants have developed is to give their seeds wings or parachutes (this also helps with dispersal):

We decided to try and mimic this design for our experiment.  Below is a picture of our inspiration:

Image from memorizingnature -  click on picture for the link

We did not need much to set the experiment up.  Our seeds (water balloons), some trash bags, pieces of string and painters tape.  Fill at least two water balloons.  Trim the trash bags into squares (you should get two parachutes from one trash bag).  Cut the string into four equal length pieces (10 inches).

First we spoke about what might happen to a seed from high up in a tree.  What did they think would happen to the seed?   "Splat," was one suggestion.  So we each took turns dropping water balloons off the deck.  What do you know - they went SPLAT!  This part of the experiment elicited lots of giggles and lots of repeats (make sure you fill extra water balloons!)

Although this was great fun - it was not a great outcome if you were a seed!   So we spoke about how some seeds have wings or parachutes to help them get safely to the ground.  We could not wait to see what would happen if we put a parachute on our seeds (water balloons).

Making the parachute:  
1.  Lay out your pre-cut square of garbage bag and place a piece of string at each corner facing diagonally into the center of the bag (to create an X shape when all pieces of string have been placed on the parachute)

2.  Tape down the pieces of string on each corner using a piece of painters tape.

3.  Place the water balloon in the middle and tie each of the strings to the neck of the water balloon.

Now its time to see if our seed will make it to the ground unscathed.  With much excitement, we helped the girls make sure their strings were not twisted and released their seeds over the edge.

After a while the girls even started launching their seeds!

Every time the seeds made it the ground unscathed!  Which was great to pick up and try again.  

If you elected to do this activity on a windy day you could even see how far the seeds would travel.

Of course, throwing our water balloon was the best part of the day.  At the end, we cut off our balloons and launched our seeds to see how far they would travel one last time.


  • water balloons
  • painters tape
  • string (4x10 inches long)
  • garbage bags (we used forceflex)


  1. Fill at least 2 water balloons.
  2. Throw 1 water balloon off a balcony and watch it SPLAT!
  3. Trim your garbage bag to make a large square (you should get 2 parachutes from 1 garbage bag).
  4. Cut 4 pieces of string of equal length.
  5. Lay the garbage bag flat and lay the string on the garbage bag.  One from each corner so that they are all pointing towards the center.
  6. Tape the string down in the corners.
  7. Tie the other ends of the string onto the necks of the water balloons.
  8. Hold your parachute upright so that the parachute is at the top and the water balloon is at the bottom.  Untwist any strings.  
  9. Hold over the balcony and release.