Recommended ages: 2+
Creativity plays an important role in a child’s development. Take a tip from Lee Perry, CCRI’s Quality Every Day Manager, and set up a spooky science lab! Giving children their own space to experiment lets them practice pouring, create colors, and combine ingredients while developing spatial skills, improving hand-eye coordination, and fostering independence.
Pro Tip: Use a large pan, tray, or shallow bin for the science lab to help contain the fun. Set up the lab outside if the weather is nice.
Step 1: Collect containers and tools
Choose different size jars, cups, bowls, or other containers. Consider including a plastic jack-o-lantern bucket for a cauldron. Lay out a variety of tools: spoons, scoops, whisks, basters, medicine droppers, and funnels. Make sure to include tools that are age-appropriate and challenging (but not frustrating).
Step 2: Gather materials
Ask your child what ingredients she’d like to use for her science experiments. Liquids with different weights such as water, cooking oil, and dish soap work well. Dry ingredients might include flour, salt, sand, or coffee grounds. Acorns, leaves, pine straw, or small pine cones are great additions, especially if the science lab is set up outside.
To add a spooky touch, suggest that your child add some spider rings; gummy worms; orange, black, and purple pompoms; or any other creepy party favors you might have around the house. Follow your child’s lead as she gathers materials.
Pro Tip: Customize your child’s materials with her age, abilities, and interests.
Step 3: Let your scientist get started!
Ask open-ended questions to get your child to think about what she wants to create and how to create it. Repeat back to your child what you hear her saying, elaborating when necessary. Here are a few questions to ask:
- What will happen if we mix this with this?
- I wonder how we can get the salt into this bowl?
- What else might you need?
Pro Tip: Talking is a powerful way to help children extend their thinking. Note in this video how Lee models asking her child to talk through her experiment.
Note: Supervise your child closely during this activity, as some items can be choking hazards for younger children.