Friday, November 28, 2014

Powering a Lightbulb in the Microwave

We have really been enjoying learning about electricity with all our fun experiments and activities!  We have really been interested in electricity powering lights!  Although our LED play-doh doll house circuit was a great introduction to an electric light we wanted to understand how we got the light to glow.  We looked at this idea by investigating a light bulb and how energy is used to make light!

We started by looking at the anatomy of an incandescent lightbulb.  We have the metal at the bottom that connects to the circuit or wires that we get our electricity from.  The electricity then goes through a filament and this heats the filament up.  When the filament gets hot it will glow and that gives off light!

So we wanted to look at this a little bit closer.   We decided to see if we could heat up the light bulb another way.  {Warning - this experiment requires a lot of parental guidance}.  We took a 40W incandescent lightbulb and placed in a glass half filled with water (making sure the water covers the metal on the lightbulb).  Make sure to take out your turntable in your microwave and put your glass with lightbulb in the microwave for 45 seconds.

After a few seconds the lightbulb started to glow!   It started by flickering then it stayed on steadily and finally glowed!  What was fascinating was that it subtly changed colors a couple of times.  We thought this was pretty awesome!

After the 45 seconds we left it in the microwave for a bit to cool down as it was pretty hot.   We did not want to do it again until it was completely cool as we did not want to burst the bulb.

So why did the lightbulb glow - the same reason as when electricity goes through it!  The microwaves heated up the filament and when it got hot enough it started to glow!!   The water at the bottom covers the metal to keep it from sparking and getting too hot in the microwave.  We hope you will have fun with this lightbulb activity!



  • Incandescent lightbulb
  • Glass half filled with water
  • Microwave
  • Safety goggles if you have them!


  1. Place the lightbulb with the metal facing down in the glass of water.
  2. Remove the turntable from the microwave if you have one.
  3. Place the glass and lightbulb in the microwave and set the microwave for 45 seconds. ABSOLUTELY NO LONGER!
  4. Watch and see it glow!


Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Science: Cranberry Jelly

At each holiday, I like to have Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean try new foods or familiar food in a different way.  They both love dried cranberries, but neither have loved cranberries served at Thanksgiving.  So, I decided to have the girls make their own cranberry jelly in hopes that they take pride in their cooking and enjoy what they made.  They will see how the cranberries breakdown and form its own thick liquid that is like jelly which they can enjoy on toast in the morning!

 First, sugar is dissolved in boiling water.
Whole cranberries are added to the sugar water.
After 10 minutes of cooking, the cranberries pop and breakdown forming a thicker liquid.
Curious to what happened with the cranberries, Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean observe the new mixture by smelling it, tasting it, and feeling it.  They notice that the sugar water is not so "liquidy" anymore.  It is thicker and jelly like.

Tasting the cranberry jelly was the best part!  And they took pride in their cooking- they both loved their homemade jelly!

What happened to the cranberries?  As the sugar water and cranberries heat up, the cranberries will pop (because they are full of air).  The cranberries also contain pectin which is like gelatin but from fruit.  The pectin begins to separate from the fruit cells as you cook them.  The pectin will thicken the sugar water forming a "jelly-like" substance.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 cups whole cranberries
  • pot
  • stove top or other heat source
  • spoon
  1. Measure out the sugar and water.
  2. Mix them in a pot and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Add the cranberries.
  4. Cook the cranberries for 10 minutes stirring often.
  5. Remove the mixture from the heat source.
  6. Allow to cool.
  7. Place in mason jars or another container.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Holiday Foods: Which is a Starch?

The holidays is a time to enjoy time with family which also means there is a lot of food to enjoy.  It is a time to get your children to try different foods that they don't usually eat, and it is a time to teach them about the different food groups.  Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean know the difference between fruits and vegetables, what sugary foods are, and what to eat for protein.  But, now we are going to introduce the idea of starchy foods.  You know, the yummy rolls, sweet potatoes, stuffing and pie crust that we eat over the holidays.

First, we review which food group our test items are a part of.  Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean were unsure of what the stuffing mix was, but it was easy for them to determine that it looked similar to the bread and crackers so they grouped it with those.


To test whether our food is a starch, iodine is dropped onto each.  Before the drop is added, the girls predict if it is a starch or not.  If it is a starch, the iodine with turn a dark purple.  If it is not a starch, the iodine stays a reddish color.

As you can see, the bread, crackers, stuffing mix, and sweet potato are all starchy foods.


  • sliced bread
  • crackers
  • potato slices
  • cheese
  • veggies (celery, brussel sprouts)
  • fruit (cranberries, oranges)
  • stuffing mix
  • tray
  • iodine
  • eye dropper
  • Place food items on a tray.
  • Discuss the different food groups.
  • Predict which item is a starch.
  • Drop iodine on each food item.
  • Iodine will turn dark purple if the food is starchy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Static Electricity: Salt and Pepper Challenge

We can't get enough static electricity activities around our house.  All the activities we have conducted have proven to be hours of fun!  So today, we are going to use what we have learned about static electricity and experiment with salt and pepper.  I have challenged Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean to try and separate pepper from a mixture of salt and paper. 

This experiment is quite simple.  First, measure out a teaspoon of  salt and pepper.

Next, mix the salt and pepper together.

And now for the challenge!  I asked Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean how they could separate the pepper from the salt.  They thought licking their finger and dipping it into the mixture would work.

Their guess was a good one, but nope, it did not work.

So back to the idea of static electricity.  The girls rubbed the back of a plastic spoon on their fleece jackets and tried to pick up the pepper with the spoon.

And it worked!  Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean were successful in the Salt and Pepper Challenge!


  • 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
  • plate
  • plastic spoon
  • fleece

  1. Measure one teaspoon each of salt and pepper and dump it onto a plate.
  2. Mix the salt and pepper together.
  3. Rub the back of a plastic spoon on fleece or wool for 30 seconds.
  4. Hold the back of the spoon just above the salt and pepper mixture, but not allowing them to touch.
  5. Watch the pepper jump of the plate and onto the back of the spoon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Turkey Trot Math Game

This is a great math game (and a free printable too!) for you to play with your little ones around Thanksgiving time, especially if they are out of school for a week like us.  Although it is a simple game - just trying to get your turkey to the pie - it is very customizable in how you get your turkey there.

** Update - the turkeys have been made a bit smaller in the printable to have them fit on the board!

The free printable {here} comes with the four turkey playing pieces, a game board and instead of dice a set of simple math problems.   To move your turkey you need to answer the math problem and then move the turkey that many places.  As we are still getting used to the idea of math problems we had a bowl of cranberries on the table that we could use as counting pieces to work out the answer.

However when we played with Little Bear we used a dice as she was a bit young for the problems.  What is great is you can substitute the dice to be math problems, cards with pictures, even sight words or charades (if everyone guesses what you acted out you all get to move 5 spaces, if no one guessed then only you get to move 1 space).  It is totally up to you and we would love to see what you did in the comments below.

Have fun and Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Playing with your Dinner: Testing if different Thanksgiving Foods Float or Sink

Need something to keep the little ones occupied while you cook this Thanksgiving?   We decided to do some investigating with some of our Thanksgiving foods.  This would be simple to setup in the kitchen and have the kids test or experiment while you prepare for the dinner!  We investigated which of our Thanksgiving foods would float and which would sink (we have enjoyed some float-sink activities before}.   What is great is that even young Bear got into it.

To get started we setup a selection of Thanksgiving foods.  This is completely customizable to what you have at home.

The girls took turns selecting a food, predicting if it would sink or float and then dropping it into the water.   There was a twist - if it did the opposite of what they thought they had to eat it (if possible).  This resulted in some giggles {and new foods tried}!

We had a couple of fun surprises along the way - like our floating sweet potato.

To work on our documenting and observing skills we also drew our different foods on a sheet labelled with a 'Float' and 'Sink' column.  Of course at the end everything was thrown in the bowl!

The girls really enjoyed investigating what floats and what sinks with the different food.  We were surprised that so many things floated.  Of course that lead to us watching videos of cranberries being harvested.


  • Bowl with water
  • Thanksgiving foods e.g. cheese, cranberries, corn, peas, carrots, apples, pumpkins, cheese
  • Recording sheet and colored pencils (optional)
  • Towel


  1. Place your bowl on the towel on the table.
  2. Take turns selecting an item to test.  
  3. Predict if it will sink or float.
  4. Drop it in the water and see what happens.
  5. Record the results on your sheet.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Play-doh Circuits: Making a Dollhouse Nightlight

While looking for different electricity experiments I came across Squishable Circuits.  I thought that these were such a fun and easy way for little hands to play with a basic circuit.   Did you know that play dough could conduct electricity?   Neither did I!  Although Squishable Circuits recommends making your own conductive and non-conductive dough we used just regular store-bought Play-Doh to introduce the concept of completing a simple circuit.

Here is what you need to get started:

A 9V battery, a container of Play-Doh and an LED light.  We started by looking at the battery and talking about how it has a positive and a negative side and that to make electricity flow we needed a way to connect them so that the electrons (teeny tiny particles - smaller than a grain of sand) could run from the one side to the other.  We decided that maybe if we made some electric snakes (that are hungry for electrons) that it may help.  So we rolled two pieces of Play-Doh.

Our very hungry snakes stuck onto the battery.

Well this was a little disappointing as nothing was happening.   So we stuck an LED into the Play-Doh and Voila!  There was light!

She was soooo excited - Bug could not believe that she made a light glow and that she could touch the light!  Daddy was hurriedly called over to show him her special trick (PS - Daddy very kindly supplied the supplies for our activity).  But in doing so the light stopped working:

So we looked closely and noticed that our snakes were touching.  We had introduced a short circuit!  Bug quickly deduced that we needed to separate our snakes to make it work again.  

But what could we do with our circuit.  Seeing though it was almost bed time we made a night light for our dolls in our dollhouse.  The Play-Doh was great at holding onto the side and roof of the house and the dolls were so happy tucked up in bed.

Although I don't have a good picture - we turned off all the lights and the girls loved to see their dollhouse glow with the nightlight.  Many a doll was tucked into bed that night.

One side note is that when we took the Play-Doh off the battery there was some corrosion at the terminals.  I would recommend making sure an adult takes it all apart and carefully removes the battery.  Squishable Circuits comes with a battery clip that goes to wires and that may be a safer way to do this circuit activity.



  • 9V battery
  • Battery clip (not used in this write up but recommended)
  • Play-Doh
  • LED light


  1. Attach the battery clip to the 9V battery.
  2. Roll 2 snakes out of playdough and attach to the ends of the battery clip wires.
  3. Insert the LED into the playdough (make sure the long end of the LED goes into the playdough on the positive side of the battery - if it does not light up try turning it around).
  4. Try and short circuit the system by having the playdough touch.
  5. Have fun molding circuits for play!


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Static Electricity: Swinging Cheerios

Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean have definitely been exposed to static electricity at the park when they slide down the slide and come up with their hair sticking up all over like a mad scientist or getting shocks during the winter when it is dry inside the house.  But today, our science experiment involves fine motor skills, good lungs, and some static electricity.   We are going to magically swing Cheerios without touching them!

First, Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean slid a piece of string through the hole of a Cheerio, wrapped it around the Cheerio and tied it in a knot.  This was great practice and reminded mommy that we need to continue to work on tying.


They then taped the Cheerio free end to the stool so that it hung toward the ground.

Now, the hardest part- blowing up the balloon.  They did it!

With a balloon and a piece of fur, Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean rubbed the two together to make an electrical charge on the balloon.  Mommy rubbed it as well just to make sure there was enough charge.

Slowly, the balloon was moved closer to the hanging Cheerio, and the Cheerio started to swing back and forth.  The static from the balloon attracted the cheerio to it.

What is happening?  When you rub the balloon against the wool or fleece, electrons move from the wool or fleece to the balloon.  The balloon now has a negative charge.  However, the cheerio is neutral making it attract to the balloon. 


  • Cheerio
  • Balloon
  • String
  • Tape
  • Chair or table
  • Wool, fleece, or hair

  1. Tie a cheerio onto the end of a piece of string.
  2. Tape the cheerio free end of the string to a table or chair.
  3. Blow up a balloon.
  4. Charge the balloon by rubbing wool or fleece on it.  You can also rub the balloon on your hair.
  5. Slowly move the balloon toward the cheerio until it attracts the cheerio and makes it swing.