Kids develop an opinion about science at an early age. As parents and teachers, there are plenty of ways to ensure your kids have a great time while learning. Whether you’re looking for cool classroom ideas for students, or some activities to keep your kids occupied (and learning) at home, we’ve got some ideas to help make science fun for kids.
Here are some of our favorite ways to make science fun. Let’s explore!
Make your Science Experiment an Event
Our kids like masks, helmets, and costumes during playtime, so we encourage them to gear up and get ready when we’re about to do some science studies. Lab coats, goggles, props, etc. all help set the scene and build anticipation as we’re preparing for the actual activity.
Do Loads of Science Experiments
There are so many experiments that are easy, inexpensive, and fun for the whole family, and we’ll share some of our favorites below.
The more science projects and experiments we do together, the more our kids want to do. They get excited to see what’s going to happen, and they get pumped up about learning. That’s priceless. Whats also priceless is that we get to spend time together and learn some cool things at the same time.
Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Failure is a big part of science, and a great learning tool. Don’t be afraid of failure!
Even when our experiments don’t go exactly as planned, we still have fun and still learn. In fact, sometimes we learn more when an experiment fails the first time! We have to analyze what went wrong, and what actions may produce better results.
And, sometimes failure can just be funny like this balloon inflation experiment:
Make Science Visual
Making your science lessons visual and pretty is a sure-fire way to gain (and keep) your kids’ attention.
Classic vinegar and baking soda experiments are easy, safe, and the chemical reaction is very visual.
Chromatography (i.e. the separation of a solution into various parts) is a great one for this: Your kids can use a marker to draw stripes on coffee filter paper. Then fold it and dip the very tip in some water. It will move up the filter and separate the ink from the marker into different pigments. The bright colors make the effect easy to see.
Make Science Yummy
Kids like to (and need to, obviously) eat. In their eyes, nothing could be better than eating something delicious after they’ve learned all about it. Of course, that “something” should be sweet!
Our favorite way to make science educational, fun, and tasty is to make a Skittles density rainbow. Just place skittles into warm water (one color per glass, start with 2 skittles with red and add a few more skittles for each color through orange, yellow, green, and purple) and wait for them to dissolve. Then, use a pipette or eyedropper to drop the colors on top of each other (purple, green, yellow, orange, and red.) Careful to slowly run each color down the side of the glass while pouring, else you’ll have a messy mix. When done, you’ll have one glass filled with rainbow water! And there will be loads of skittles left for your little ones to munch on.
My wife loves to bake, and I bought her a ‘cookie journal’ to log her favorite recipes, along with adjustments, tweaks, and the results. This is pretty much an experiment log on her way to create the perfect cookie. We encourage the kids to note differences in ingredients, temperatures, oven settings, which rack is used, etc. and note the difference in the final product. Since checking the success involves a taste test, we always get volunteers when doing kitchen experiments! Really, they just want cookies; though they’re learning elements of the scientific method along the way.
Engage All Their Senses
At the end of the day, the best way to make science (or any subject) fun for your children is to engage all their senses. Do a hands on activity like making play doh or slime. Do some experiments involving sound.
It’s impossible not to be intrigued when all your senses are stimulated; your kids won’t be able to resist.
Visit Science Museums
Depending on where you live, you’re bound to have some sort of science museum around. Take a day to go and explore everything it has to offer. Your children are likely to come away inspired and raring to take on your science lessons for the rest of the week.
We have a family membership to our local science center. It’s a great place to take the kids for an afternoon. We can catch a live science demonstration, play with the exhibits, hands on labs, and more. They’re having so much fun, they don’t even realize they’re learning.
Some areas even have free science museums! All you’ll need to pay for is the gas to get you there.
Get Out In Nature
When it’s time to learn about photosynthesis and similar subjects, take your little ones outside. They can take bark rubbings, learn about any insects they happen to find, and answer questions about how flora and fauna grow.
Depending on the specifics of your lesson, you might want to make a nature scrapbook filled with twigs, leaves, and anything else your kids find. This way, they’ll get fresh air, exercise, and scientific knowledge.
Our kids loved a series of nature science books featuring Crinkleroot (pictured above.) These are a great inspiration to read about nature science and follow along with your own nature adventures.
You may have a hard time getting them to go back inside (and that just means you’re doing something right!)
Use Play-Doh to teach Science Concepts
Kids love making shapes, squeezing and sculpting with Play-Doh, so why not include Play-Doh in your science lessons? Your children will love it (and so will you!)
There are lots of science games and activities you can do with Play Doh — you could even make your own with a few simple ingredients. One of our favorite ideas, however, is to ask your kids to pretend to be geologists and take some colorful multi layered core samples.
Do Science with Household Items
Make the ordinary extraordinary! You don’t need fancy equipment or a lab to do science experiments. There are some amazing things you can do with regular household items (Check out our in depth post on activities with household items.) Vinegar and baking soda inflate a balloon and (with a bit of food coloring) make a volcano. Vinegar can make bones or eggs rubbery. You can learn about density with a floating egg in a quick 60 second experiment like this:
Some dish soap and glitter can show how soap disperses dirt and germs, or a pen in a glass of water can show us refraction. There are plenty of fun ideas for quick experiments and home, using regular household items you already have on hand.
Do Something Impossible
Your children will think that some things are impossible — like sticking pencils through a bag of water while all the liquid stays put. Yes, it’s possible (with a bit of science.) Your kids will be amazed and it’ll certainly keep their attention.
Something like making a paper clip float on water may seem impossible at first, but completely doable once you learn a bit about surface tension.
Turn to Technology
Our son’s favorite word is “Why?” followed very closely by “How?” These questions of natural curiosity spark some great conversations, and we’ll often turn to the internet to find the answers or some cool visuals to help explain the barrage of questions.
Beyond just answering questions, some experiments are just too dangerous or too expensive to do at home, or require specialized lab equipment. When your kid wants to experiment with something not feasible at home, turn to tech.
YouTube has a variety of science channels to choose from that we’re sure your kids will love. Whether it’s watching someone make an explosion, building a powerful laser (or a plasma lightsaber prototype!), or shooting a rocket into space, they’ll have a great time and learn about science they may not be able to do at home.
We’ve got some videos on Youtube as well! Be sure to subscribe to the STEMtropolis channel.
Wrap Up – Making Science Fun for Kids
Do your kids think science is boring? Kids form an opinion about science early on, and some studies have shown by 4th grade, about one third of children lose their interest in science, and that increases to 50% by 8th grade. If we can find ways to present science topics in more engaging ways, children can develop a passion for learning and discovery.
Whether you’re a veteran science teacher or just a parent trying to entertain your child, there are plenty of science topics you can tackle with some fun experiments for kids.
For some more ideas, check out our activities, projects, and STEM challenges.