There are a wealth of simple science activities to do with the little ones. For the toddler set, I'm drawn to those that focus on the experience and simply encourage the act of noticing, rather than on teaching any sort of science fact. There is plenty of time to learn the hows and the whys. For right now, what's important is to ignite that spark of wonder and awe at the world around them.
This weekend we tried our first such activity and it was a hit: Color Fizz.
The set up is very simple. We use baking soda and vinegar a lot in this house, so I buy them both in bulk. Why not give Silas a chance to experience what happens when you put the two together? I filled a large glass baking dish with about two cups of baking soda and set out four cups of vinegar tinted with food coloring. One pipette per cup indicated to him how this activity works.
As always, I let Silas freely explore the invitation with no instruction or guidance from me. He chose yellow first.
He focused on one color, squeezing and squeezing it onto the soda until the cup was almost empty before moving on to the next. The resulting bubbly fizz was captivating.
After about ten minutes, he decided to get his hands dirty. First, he picked up chunks of soda and crumbled them into a fizzy spot. Then he started dragging his fingers through.
He created this little well in the corner and it was the focus of his attention for the rest of the time he spent with this activity. He said he was "cooking eggs."
I was waiting for this moment. Dump, in it goes.
And then the gloves were off. It was a full-on, hands-in goopy sensory experience.
This held his interest for almost an hour. He would have gone longer (and asked for "more colors" to do so), but we cleaned up instead. He asked to do it again the following day. Needless to say we will be pulling this one out again in the near future.
Silas is 2.5 years old.