Easy Science Experiments to do at Home with the Kids

I’m a big fan of doing science experiments with the kids, but if you’re doing them at home they’ve got to be easy! It’s also a massive plus if you can do them with things that are usually just lying around the house. Here are some of my favourite easy science experiments to do with the kids at home. I’ve included a bit of information about the science behind the experiments that helps you to explain to the kids what’s going on, but please remember I’m not a scientist!

Super Cooled Water Experiments

Super cooled water science experiments to do at home | Free Time with the Kids

These experiments using super cooled water all involve zero science kit, except optional food colouring.

1 – Freeze a bottle of water for three hours. Don’t leave it longer than this otherwise it won’t work. Ideally you want a bottle that doesn’t have a label on it so you can see what’s happening. Carefully remove the bottle from the freezer, making sure you don’t knock it or mix it up. Slowly tip it on its side to show the kids it’s still liquid. Then get them to slam it hard onto a table or worktop. Watch as it suddenly freezes! The first time we tried this it took about 10 seconds to start working. The second time we did the experiment the kids could see ice crystals forming straight away.

2 – Make another bottle of super cooled water. You’ll also need a frozen grape (leave a long stem on the grape) and a glass. Carefully fill the glass with super cooled water. Dangle the grape into the water and watch as ice crystals instantly grow around it! Leave the grape in for a little while and pull it out to see all the crystals. If you drop the grape in the glass instead of dangling it then it freezes the whole glass!

3 – Freeze a plate of water until it’s solid (we left ours overnight). This experiment also uses a bottle of super cooled water, but this time you can add food colouring if you want to. Very slowly pour the water onto the frozen plate of water. As you do so it starts to forms an icy stalagmite which is very cool! The first time we tried this we just poured it from the bottle and it didn’t work particularly well. We then carefully decanted the super cooled water into a jug and used that instead. The finer stream of water frozen more quickly and built the stalagmite properly.

The science behind the experiments

In order to freeze, water needs a nucleation site – somewhere for the ice crystals to grow. Without this you can actually cool water to below its freezing point before it actually becomes solid. All it needs is something to kick start the freeze!

Helicopters, Aeroplanes and Flying Mice!

Flying science experiments | Free Time with the Kids

The Science Museum website has got lots of STEM experiments with PDF instructions that you can download. The instructions also explain all of the science behind the experiments. You can find paper aeroplanes, helicopter and gliders by clicking here. The helicopters are really good fun to drop out of a first floor window (as long as it isn’t too breezy). We made up loads of them and just kept throwing them out one after another.

There’s also instructions on how to make flying mice! We haven’t tried this one yet, but it’s on our list of easy science experiments for the kids to try at home this week. It’s aimed at KS1 science but I think the boys (both KS2) will get a real kick out of it as well.

Make water walk

3/4 fill three cups with water and add different food colourings. Put an empty cup between the full ones. Fold kitchen roll in quarters length-ways and put one piece between each cup. Then wait. You’ll start seeing results within an hour or so, leave it over night for the best result. You’ll end up with the same amount of water in each cup! Tip – we actually filled the first cup significantly higher than the rest, but all five ended up with the same amount of water. Something for the kids to puzzle over.

The science behind it

The food colouring allows you to see how the water progresses as it “walks” between glasses. This happens thank sto capillary action. The forces within the water are weaker than the forces between the kitchen roll and the water, which draws the water across the paper. Once there is an equal amount of water on each side it will stop walking.

Magic Bag

Fill a decent quality zippy bag (the cheap ones don’t work in my experience) with water and get lots of sharp pencils. You want them to be sharp so they go through the bag easily. Amazing your friends by pushing the pencils through the bag, and out the other side, without it leaking. The trick here is a firm stab to get the pencil in rather than pushing it in gently, same when coming out the other side. Once they’re in, don’t pull them out until you want the water to come out.

The science behind it

The bag is made of a stretchy polymer. When you push the pencil through it stretches back to form a tight seal around the pencil.

Make a Solar Still

Make a solar still | Easy science experiments to do at home | Free Time with the Kids

This is one of the things that we made as part of our 30 Days Wild challenge last year (Update on the 2020 version coming soon). There are two versions of this experiment, one is easier than the other. It was pretty cool and it’s useful to know that should we run out of water, I can just stick a fuchsia in a bag, leave it in the sun for the day and get a teaspoon of water to keep me going. Don’t drink unless the water has been purified though.

The simple version – All you need for this is a potted plant and a ziplock bag. To make the still simply put a green plant in a clear plastic bag and seal. Leave it out in the sunlight and condensation will collect on the plastic. You’ll need a BIG bag and ideally a plant with big leaves for maximum effect. The sunnier and hotter it is, the more water you’ll get.

The harder version – Dig a hole and place a container in the bottom. You can add green plants around the container if you want maximise the effect. Place a plastic sheet over the top of the hole (a carrier bag will work), place rocks or earth around the edge to stop the plastic from slipping. Put a small rock in the middle of the sheet, directly over the container and leave overnight. By the next day there should be water in the container.

The science behind the experiment

As the plant photosynthesises the leaves release water vapour. This then condenses on the plastic sheet and pools at the bottom as water.

Dye Flowers

Easy science experiments to do at home | Free Time with the Kids

For this one you’ll need a white cut flower, some food colouring and a tall but narrow vase. If you have a test tube that would be perfect. We used tulips but I’ve also seen this done with chrysanthemums. Literally any white flower will do. In terms of colours you want something bright and vibrant that contrasts with the white. We did blue which looked amazing. We also did yellow and you could barely see it. I think green and red would work well, but experiment for yourself.

Cut the stem at a 45 degree angle (use a sharp knife, not scissors otherwise you’ll crush the stem). Fill your vase 2/3rds with water and add food colouring (make the solution quite strong for maximum effect, only add a few drops if you want a subtle effect) put in your flower and wait. You can do this with multiple flowers and colours to see how they change differently. It starts to take effect quite quickly (within a couple of hours) but leave it over night for the full effect to be visible.

The science behind the experiment

Plants pull water up through their roots and stems to the petals. Even when the roots have been removed and the flower has been cut this capillary action continues. As the stem draws water up to the petals it pulls the dye with it, changing their colour.

Easy Science Experiments for Kids to do at Home with Food

Make bread

How yeast works is very cool and is a tasty way to show the chemical processes involved. We used fresh yeast and the boys were fascinated to watch how it bloomed in the jug before being mixed into the flour. Then being able to see how the bread expands as it proves was a really visual way of showing what was going on.

The science behind the experiment

As yeast feeds sugar (both in the water/sugar solution you use to bloom it in, but also in the bread) it produces carbon dioxide and alcohol. The carbon dioxide gets trapped as little bubbles inside the dough and makes it rise.

Home-made Lava Lamp

Alka Seltzer lava lamp | Easy science experiments | Free Time with the Kids

This is such an easy science experiment but has really dramatic (and pretty) results! Kids of all ages can get involved (just be careful with the Alka seltzer). All you need to do this is an empty bottle, water, food colouring (any colour), oil and Alka seltzer. Put some water in the bottom of the bottle and add enough food colouring to give a strong colour. Carefully pour in some oil. You need a decent layer as this is where the bubble show. Break an Alka Seltzer into three pieces and add them one at a time. If you add too much then so many bubbles are formed it’s hard to see what’s going on. Once the reaction has calmed down you can add more pieces to keep the lamp going for longer.

The science behind the experiment

As the Alka Seltzer dissolves, it produces bubbles of carbon-dioxide gas. These bubbles attach themselves to the coloured water. Because they are lighter than the water they rise to the top. They’re also lighter than the oil sitting above the water (which is itself lighter than water) and so the bubbles travel though to oil to reach the surface. Here the gas is released and the water sinks back down below the oil.

The Skittles Rainbow Experiment

Put a ring of skittles around the edge of a white plate. Carefully pour warm water into the middle of the plate and watch as the colour from each skittle spreads towards the centre of the plate, without mixing. We only poured enough water to half cover the skittles and it worked well. For some very cool variations of this add an additional, smaller circle of skittles within the first one and see what happens. You can also try this using lemonade and/or vinegar.

The science behind the experiment

There are actually two things going on here. The reason why the colours don’t mix is because each colour has a slightly different chemical makeup. This creates a barrier that stops the colours mixing. The second thing that’s going on is the way the colours spread towards the middle. This is thanks to something called concentration gradient. Basically the molecules of the food dye will always move from the highest concentration to the lowest. Because the colours can’t mix, the only way to go is towards the middle.

Bicarbonate of Soda and Vinegar

Bicarbonate of soda and vinegar experiment | Free Time with the Kids

This is a classic and an incredibly easy science experiment for the kids to do at home! All you need is water, white vinegar (with optional food colouring for dramatic effect) and bicarbonate of soda. If you really want to give this a kick add one quirt of washing up liquid to the vinegar and gently mix it. We used 2/3 glass of water, 3 tbsp bicarbonate of soda, 1 tsp washing up liquid and some food colouring. Put these in a container and mix. Then pour in 75 ml vinegar.

What container you use to do this experiment in is up to you – a glass, test tube, bottle. Anything. If you’re feel particularly crafty you could make your own volcano! I strongly recommend you put your container inside something else or do this outside as it gets very messy. All you need to do is put the bicarbonate of soda into the container. Pour the vinegar, carefully, onto the bicarb and watch it go.

Alternative version – make a rocket

As an alternative you can do this in a bottle adn turn it into a rocket. Put 75ml of white vinegar and 75ml of water in a drinks bottle (we used a 500ml bottle so it wasn’t too heavy). Then put 2tbps of bicarb into HALF a sheet of kitchen roll. If you use a full sheet it won’t work (trust me!). Roll this into a little sausage that will fit through the neck of the bottle and twist the ends so it doesn’t leak. You’ll also need a cork that fits tightly into the next of the bottle. I ended up cutting down a prosecco cork to make it small enough. If your cork is too small then wrap foil around it so it’s a secure fit. Tape three or four straws to the top of the bottle so that when it’s inverted they act as legs for the rocket. You’ll need a flat surface to put the rocket on.

Once you have everything together this is such an easy science experiment to do with the kids at home. You can let them actually do the experiment themselves, but you will need to do it outdoors as it does get messy. When you’re ready push the kitchen roll tube into the bottle, quickly put the cork in the end and turn the rocket over and put it on the floor. Step away quickly as it will start to work almost straight away.

We experimented with various different quantities for both experiments and these worked best for us. We also found the reaction was much better when we added the vinegar to the bicarb and not the other way around when it’s in the cup but you have to add the bicarb to the vinegar in the rocket.

The science behind the experiment

When you mix bicarb and vinegar lots of carbon dioxide is released, which creates the bubbly foam we all know and love. If you do add washing up liquid to the mix then it’s like blowing bubbles within an already explosive reaction!

Non-Newtonian Liquids

Fancy getting the kids to walk on water? Well I can’t quite manage that, but you can get them to walk on a liquid. When you mix cornflour (aka cornstarch) with the right amount of water it becomes a non-Newtonian liquid. In reality what that means is that it defies the laws of physics by behaving like both a liquid and a solid depending on how you treat it. This is another really easy experiment to try at home with the kids as it only needs two ingredients; water and cornflour. You’ll need approximately half as much water as cornflour. Add the water slowly and mix it up until it starts to behave strangely. If it starts to dry out you can just add some more water to make it back to it’s non-Newtonian state.

Forgive the dodgy camera work – Biggest Child was filming whilst I was stopping Smallest Child from falling over!

Once you have the right consistency you can start to have fun! If you rest your hand on the surface it will sink but you can also bounce a ball on it! You can hit it with a hammer (carefully) and it will turn solid. If you make a big enough batch you can get the kids to run up and down on the surface, but as soon as they stop they sink! We used a tub slightly bigger than A4 and all three kids were able to fit their feet in and run on the spot (one at a time). We used 500g of cornflower but I think 1kg would have been better in a tub this size.

The science behind the experiment

This is all to do with viscosity (how thick a liquid it) and how, in certain liquids, this changes when pressure is applied. The easiest explanation I’ve seen is that the grains of starch are chaotic and act like groups of people. Even in a crowd, if everyone is moving slowly they can still move around without bumping into each other – just like a liquid. If you started pushing someone around the room (applying a force) then the people will all start bumping into each other and get stuck – just like a solid!

I hope you have loads of fun testing out these science experiments, they’re deliberately easy so everyone can have a go at home with the kids. This is just one of the resources I’ve put together to help out with homeschooling whilst we’re on lockdown. I’ve also put together a list of free online resources for EYFS, KS1 and KS2. Click here to read the post.

If you and the kids love hands-on science, when things get back to normal check out the Look Out Discovery Centre in Berkshire. It’s got loads of experiments to have a go at, and an amazing woodland playground right outside as well. Click here for my full review.

Easy science experiment you can do at home with the kids

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Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with our three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch contact@freetimewiththekids.com or get in touch via Facebook