These kindergarten science lesson plans are fun because they all use food. Science with food is a neat way to raise awareness of real-life chemistry and physics. There are several food science experiments that are safe and fun. You can make a cabbage pH scale, experiment with different kinds of play dough, make quicksand with cornstarch, use eggs and salt to experiment with density & buoyancy, and blow up a balloon with baking soda & vinegar.
Red Cabbage pH Indicator
Use red cabbage and water to make a homemade pH scale. While a kindergartener might not quite ‘get” the concept of the pH scale, the activity is fun and memorable, and will give them a practical hands-on experience to relate to later on, when they’re ready to “get it.” All you need to do is boil a few red cabbage leaves in water until their color is extracted. Allow the liquid to cool and fill a shot glass halfway full. Come on, you can use them for science, unless you happen to have test tubes lying around. Whenever you want to test a solution, just pour some into the testing base. Acidic solutions will turn it red and alkaline solutions will turn it greenish yellow. Neutral solutions will turn it purple.
Play Dough Profiles
Make homemade play dough every week, using a different recipe. Some dough will dry quickly, others will dry slowly. Some doughs will be smooth, others thick. Some will be a brilliant white, others will be darker. If your child enjoys playing with play dough, they’ll love this activity. Print out each recipe that you find and record the properties of the dough at the bottom of the page. The first few times, your child may not think of many words to describe the dough. That’s OK, he’s building a point of reference. After the 2nd or 3rd day, he’ll be able to describe the doughs better because their differences will become apparent upon comparison. Consider making a graph-type chart on a piece of poster board to record the findings. Roll samples of each dough into ‘snakes” and then make circle-wreaths to give away for Christmas presents.
Make Quicksand with CornStarch
Add water little by little to 1 pound of cornstarch to make a quicksand that will sink a marble. When you mix cornstarch with water, the surface looks and feels solid, but an object left to sit on top will sink. Pick up a chunk of this solution, it looks and feels solid for a split second, then it turns into liquid and falls between your fingers. It’s hard to resist touching this stuff. Scientifically, it’s called a “Non-Newtonian fluid.” There’s no exact formula, just add more and more water until you’ve reached a substance that resembles the description.
Making Eggs Float with Saltwater
Fill a wide mouthed jar with water and add 1 egg. You may want to use tongs so that the egg doesn’t crack. Add salt to the water, a teaspoon at a time and watch as the egg slowly floats higher and higher, finally reaching the top of the jar. When the water has salt in it, the molecules become more and more dense, forcing the egg up higher. This is a good one to do when an eager child wants to cook with you. Adding the salt to the water 1 teaspoon at a time is fun and seems important. When they’re done, allow them to crack the egg into the recipe. After all, you can’t crack an egg that’s stuck underwater, right?
Blowing up a Balloon with Vinegar and Baking Soda
Pour 1 cup of vinegar into an empty water bottle. Use a funnel to put 4 tablespoons of baking soda into a balloon. Without spilling the baking soda into the balloon, open up the end of the balloon and stretch it over the lid of the bottle. Finally, lift the balloon so that the baking soda spills into the vinegar and watch as the two combine to form carbon dioxide.
Kitchen chemistry is fun and even when kids don’t understand the precise scientific concepts behind these experiments, it allows them to be surprised, to be exposed to concepts and events that feed their natural curiosity and gives them concrete experiences to relate to later in life, when they read about things like “chemical reactions” and “forms of matter.”
These activities for teaching kindergarteners are excerpts of the “Activity-Based Kindergarten Curriculum” scheduled for release in July of 2009. Subscribe to Type-A Mom or Lisa Russell’s website by email for notification of its release, special early-bird pricing and promotions and more excerpts.