Kids are going to be spending a lot of time stuck at home over the next few weeks. The key to keeping them engaged and not driving you crazy is to provide a variety of different activities for them.
Don’t sit them in front of technology all day (even if they are on educational websites). That much screen time is not only bad for kids’ eyes, it doesn’t engage the rest of their body in physical activity.
Also, don’t go out and buy a workbook and make your kids complete worksheets for hours at a time. Worksheets are not the only way you can help keep your child learning. Here are some fun science activities you can do with them that are also “academic”. They take very few supplies, things you probably already have at home. Plus, they will keep your kids busy for at least an hour! I’ve used most of these in my classroom.
1. Make Snow.
You’ll Need: conditioner, baking soda, large tub/tray.
Making snow is so simple but so much fun! Mix together 1/2 a cup of conditioner with 2 cups of baking soda. Pour the mixture into a shallow tray like a baking tray or shallow plastic tub. Let kids use their imagination to make all sorts of things: snowmen, people, a house, even a whole town.
You’ll Need: flour, water, cream of tarter, salt, and food coloring.
If you don’t have any playdough at home why not make some of your own? Playdough is a great time filler and gets kids creativity flowing. You can use the playdough to practice forming letters with your preschooler. Or, have older kids make animals, buildings etc.
3. Design a Maze.
You’ll Need: Straws, cardboard or a paper plate.
Mazes are a great critical thinking activity for kids. For younger kids, you’ll need to help them understand how to include dead ends in their maze. Otherwise, they will basically build a straight path. Lay down all the straws the way you want them before gluing anything down.
You’ll Need: Cooking Oil, food coloring, antacid tablet.
Fill an empty bottle 3/4 of the way with oil. Add water to fill the rest of the bottle leaving about 2 inches empty at the top. Next, add a few drops of food coloring to the bottle. Finally, have kids drop small pieces of an antacid tablet into the bottle. The antacid tablet will create bubbles that will float all around the bottle like a lava lamp.
You’ll Need: balloon, straw, yarn, tape.
Cut a piece of yarn about 5-6 feet long. Tie one end to a chair, doorknob etc. Thread a drinking straw onto the yarn. If you only have straws that have the bendable part on them, cut the bendable half off and use the straight part of the straw. Tie the other half of the yarn to another chair or doorknob. Blow up a balloon and hold the end instead of tieing it. Carefully tape the balloon to the straw that is on the yarn. Now let the balloon go! Kids will enjoy doing this over and over again. You can talk to them about force and why the balloon goes the opposite direction from the way the air is blowing.
You’ll Need: toilet paper roll, 4 bottle caps, hot glue.
Cut out a circle at top of the toilet paper roll. Glue water bottle caps or juice caps to the sides. Decorate as you like.
7. Have a Paper Airplane Competition.
You’ll Need: paper, tape.
Mark lines on the floor with tape and see who’s paper airplane can fly the furthest. (Math activity anyone?!) Kids can measure the distance their airplane flew, make changes to its construction and test whether it will fly further or not.
You’ll Need: Crayons, task cards.
Almost everyone has crayons lying around their house that’s why I love these crayon task cards. Print them out and then have your child practice making different shapes using the crayons.
9. Build Shapes with ANYTHING!!
You can find building task cards for almost any material. Or just have kids build what they want using legos, toothpicks and marshmallows, Jenga blocks, pipecleaners etc.
Here are some free Lego challenge cards to spark ideas of things kids can make with Legos.
You’ll Need: Recycled milk jug, stickers, ribbon.
You’ll Need: Cornstarch, water.
The word oobleck comes from a Dr. Seuss book called “Bartholomew and the Oobleck”. It’s such a cute book about a boy named Bartholomew who must rescue his kingdom from a sticky green oobleck. After reading the story your kids can make their own oobleck to play with.
Mix together 2 parts cornstarch to 1 part water. Add some green foodcoloring to mimick the green oobleck in the book. Make sure you keep the oobleck inside a shallow container like a baking pan or plastic tub. Oobleck looks like a liquid when you first make it but the amazing thing about it is that when you grab it , it instantly becomes a solid. When you let go it turns back into a liquid. Kids could run their hands through this and play with it for hours.
12. Create a Giant Racetrack.
You’ll Need: tape, toy cars
Put tape on the floor, furniture etc. to create a massive racetrack for toy cars. You can add buildings or bridges with construction paper too.