My boys call this game “mad scientist”. Basically they look for science experiments in books and online and put on a show for their younger sister, who is ever ready to be dazzled and amazed. The show-stopper, every time, is pouring baking soda down the drain, and then pouring vinegar over it, with volcanic results. (Boil up a kettle of water to clear any remaining baking soda afterwards. Bonus: your drain is now cleaner and fresher!)
Other popular science experiments:
- making slime
- the egg-in-a-bottle trick
- Mentos and Coca-Cola
- making play-doh
- Fill a soda bottle (or juice bottle, or something with a good lid) halfway with water; add a few drops of food coloring; fill rest of way with vegetable oil. Cap tightly and watch the fascinating undulations.
- Try the above only now with oil and vinegar. The two will mix and then separate back out.
- Invisible ink: Write with lemon juice using a toothpick. Develop message with heat: bright sun or an iron does the trick.
This tends to degenerate into self-initiated experiments, such as “What happens if I mix apple juice with juice squeezed from this kiwi?” or “Does the volcano effect still happen if I add water?” (Yes.) Sometimes it goes on to some sort of Dr. Frankenstein re-enactment.
In the days ahead we’re going to do some experiments involving light, mirrors, and refraction. This was brought on by the finding of a broken mirror and a prism during decluttering.
We’ll probably also hold an Egg Drop Contest, where we design and construct ways to drop eggs off the roof without them breaking. This was an annual end-of-year ritual at my grade school and I’d like to institute it as a ritual for us as a family; maybe on the 4th of July or on my son’s birthday in August. I’ll probably hard-boil the eggs so that most of them can be saved.
Check your local library; ours has dozens of children’s books of experiments. We have Experiments With Light And Mirrors (Getting Started in Science) on hold; also Projects for a Healthy Planet: Simple Environmental Experiments for Kids.
Lots more simple experiments here.
Day Six: Play a verbal game.
The kids love this because they win every time. I don’t mind it because I can do something else simultaneously- fold laundry, cook dinner, lay with eyes closed on couch.
It begins with “I’m going on a picnic”, which, if you are not a parent and in the know, consists of saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bring an (something that starts with a; for instance, apple).” The next person says, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing an apple, and (something that starts with b).” And so on. The kids like to frontload their items with ridiculous adjectives, so our picnics will be populated with asinine anteaters, bodacious bouncing boogers, crazy candy-cane Cammy, you name it.
When we get to Z we keep going back from Y to A, and that’s where it gets tricky, my friends. My memory is not what it used to be. And since it’s them against me, I lose every time.
I also like the map game. The kids get out an atlas. One person names a city, country, state, continent, ocean, whatever. Just one.
The next person names a map location that begins with the letter that ended the previous choice. So I would say Landenberg, and they would consult their atlas and decide on Georgia. I counter with Arkansas, and so forth. (Sometimes we stop to check a place out on Google Earth, which is a cheap boredom buster all its own, the kids LOVE Google Earth.)
The fun here is when it suddenly dawns on them, that what they need to Stump the Mom is a place name that ends with X. Play this game only once in a while and I guarantee they will forget at first to play the Halifax card.
In the car, try looking for signs that start with a, b, c, etc. This was a game I played on bus rides as a kid. If you’re on a stretch of interstate that doesn’t have a large variety of signs, allow the letter to be anywhere in the word and OK the use of license plates.
Or, you can create car bingo cards ahead of time; grid off nine squares and fill with things you see on the road, like “Yield sign”, “yellow car”, “horses”,”McDonald’s”. (Use pictures for non-readers.) To reuse, laminate and mark with crayons or dry erase markers. If you’re tricky you can put a landmark on the card that’s close to the end of the trip, so when the game ends, that means you’re there.
Who else has good car games?