Are you looking to stop the summer slide, or just keep bored kids occupied any time of year?
We have 10 fun, messy science experiments that can be done outside, right in your own backyard. As your kids create bouncy balls and baking-soda volcanoes, explode sandwich bags, and create electricity from lemons, they won’t even realize they are learning because they’ll be having so much fun!
Allison over at
came up with this great mash-up of two classics: squirt guns and baking-soda volcanoes. This experiment is definitely for outdoors. Adding food color to the baking soda in the pan makes this project even more fun! When you squirt the mixture with a vinegar-filled squirt gun, rainbow mountains will grow. If you don’t allow toy guns, she suggests delivering the vinegar by using droppers, turkey basters or even just pouring in the vinegar from a cup in a thin stream. No Time for Flash Cards
Science lesson: The baking soda, which is a base, reacts with acidic vinegar, releasing carbon dioxide, causing those bubbly hills.
This project is best for older kids, because it requires cooking and patience! Tara at the
blog gives a wonderfully detailed tutorial on how to create these beautiful “geodes” using egg shells, alum powder and glue. We especially like the clear crystals on the colorful plastic Easter eggs — what a great way to upcycle those eggs! Feels Like Home
Science lesson: Some substances naturally form crystals such as salt, sugar, alum, and snow. When one of these substances is dissolved in liquid, the molecules are attracted to one another in an ordered way, and they come together to form geometric crystals. More info here.
Because we just can’t get enough of baking soda and vinegar, here’s another great way to demonstrate how the two elements react to form carbon dioxide. Laura at the
blog shows how to make a releasable plastic bag explode. Follow her directions and watch the kids ooh and ahh as the bag fills with gas and then pops! Seriously, what is more fun than a safe explosion? Come Together Kids
Science lesson: The acid in the vinegar reacts with the base in the baking soda, producing carbon dioxide gas.
This post from
includes a free printable graph to record scientific observations. Turning a copper penny green is a simple yet rewarding experiment that is great for any kid older than age 3. Kids can observe the pennies over several days and track the color changes. Buggy and Bunny
Science lesson: The acid in the vinegar helps oxygen in the air react more quickly with the copper metal. The green color is a compound called malachite.
Asia over at the
blog made these dinosaur eggs as bath bombs, but we think these would be fun to “hatch” outside in water. You make dough from citric acid, baking soda, oil and liquid watercolors, then form eggs around small plastic dinosaurs. Check out her post for the full instructions on how to create eggs that will fizz and hatch when they hit the water! Fun at home with kids
Science lesson: The baking soda, when combined with citric acid and water, releases carbon dioxide. This is similar to the baking soda-vinegar reaction, except it smells better! The eggs will feel cold to the touch because this is an endothermic reaction.
Making bouncy balls is a great afternoon project and a lesson in polymers! These are made from glue, cornstarch and borax, and you can add food coloring to make them bright. Bounce over to the
blog for this great tutorial. A few shortcuts
Science lesson: White glue is made of a polymer called PVC. When mixed with the boric acid in borax, the polymers crosslink and form chains like a big spider web. The starch in the corn starch gets trapped in the chains and makes the substance compact and, well, bouncy.
This fun experiment is a great way to demonstrate the principals of electric current for older kids. You’ll need a small device to “power up,” plus lemons and a few items from the hardware store. Be sure to have your camera ready to capture the expressions on your kids’ faces when they see it work! Check out
for the full instructions. Holly and Rachel’s blog
Science lesson: The citric acid in the lemon reacts with the two different metals, pushing the ions in one direction, creating an electric current.
What could be better than bubble blowing in summer? Giant bubbles!
offers this tutorial for creating your own wand to make humungous bubbles. And, because you’ll need lots of bubble solution, she even has links to recipes. The Enchanted Tree
Science lesson: Bubbles form because of the surface tension in water. A bubble has three layers: a thin layer of water sandwiched in between two layers of soap molecules. A single bubble will always try to become a sphere, because it is the easiest shape to form.
Stephanie at the
offers a tutorial for this sensory activity. When Stephanie’s cooperative preschool was studying the night sky, she came up with this fabulous project: galaxy slime! Her slime is borax-free and is made from liquid starch and glue. This stretchy stuff boasts all the cool colors of the galaxy and glitters like the stars. Kids will love stretching and feeling this fun stuff. Two Da Loo
Science lesson: The glue is a liquid polymer, which means that it is made up of chains of molecules. When you add liquid starch, it helps to cross-link the strands together, making it stretchy and slimy!
Sometimes mistakes make for the best inventions! When Stephanie at the
Two Da Loo made the fabulous galaxy slime, she made one batch that was too hard. By adding more liquid starch, she ended up with Gak, which is not as stretchy as slime. But, this can be used to blow bubbles — reusable ones! Check out her post for the tutorial.
Science lesson: Adding more starch equals more crosslinking of the polymer chains in the glue, making a harder substance. Got kids who are crazy for science? Check out: