Very basic science type experiements for a 5yo please

(55 Posts)
HappyAsEyeAm Mon 24-Feb-14 09:09:39

Can anyone recommend anything please? It has to be basic and preferably have instant results (rather than say leaving it on the windowsill for a fortnight). As much mixing and adding various things as possible smile

HappyAsEyeAm Mon 24-Feb-14 09:10:02


MrsTembe Mon 24-Feb-14 09:12:29

Do you mean making rockets/volcano's type experiments ?

Make a volcano is always a good one. Toilet roll inner taped to a plate. Bicarbonate of soda in the bottom, add vinegar mixed with red food colouring. Lava pours over the top very convincingly

Greenandcabbagelooking Mon 24-Feb-14 09:13:04

Make a mountain using flour. Put a canister of bicarbonate of soda in the middle. Mix some vinegar with red food dye. Add to bicarb and watch your volcano explode!

Watto1 Mon 24-Feb-14 09:13:14

DD was thrilled by cleaning a dirty penny with Brown sauce. Kept her out of mischief for a few minutes!

HappyAsEyeAm Mon 24-Feb-14 09:15:00

Fantastic, thanks - I had no idea that I could make experiements at home. I was up for buying some kind of kit, but they seem to be aimed at older children.

LEMmingaround Mon 24-Feb-14 09:16:20

Red cabbage is your friend. It is a ph ibdicator and it gives impressive results. They dont really need to know about acid and alkaline in any great detail at all. What you do is boil up some red cabbage. The water will turn dark purpley red.then you can add a few drops to solutions you find in the kitchen and there will be a colour chabge depending on if it is acid neutral or alkaline. All very quick and impressive results and no chemicals. Have a range of things to test like vibegar. Fizzy drinks. Toothpaste.

Khimaira Mon 24-Feb-14 09:17:09

White flowers in a vase of food colouring and water. Takes a day or so for the colour to come through. DS thought it was brilliant.

Baking a cake.

Blindfold taste test.

Glass of water, a spoonful of various liquids into each one and see which floats/sinks e.g cooking oil, milk, syrup, treacle

Boil red cabbage for 5 mins, strain off the water and pour some into two jars. Add vinegar to one and baking powder to the other. Use other things and see what happens e.g. yoghurt, milk, tea, soap, salt,lemon juice, toothpaste

fuzzpig Mon 24-Feb-14 09:18:02

Witches brew/volcano - vinegar and bicarb, you can put food dye in and I think washing up liquid to make it more bubbly. Can't remember exact details but google 'vinegar bicarb volcano' and you should get something

Mixing colours by using kitchen roll: line up three clear glasses. Put water and blue food dye in the first, and water and yellow due in the third. Roll up a sheet of kitchen paper and put one end in the blue glass and the other in the empty one. Do the same on the other side ie one end in the empty glass and one in the yellow. After a while the water will soak into the paper and end up in the middle glass, so you should get green water smile

Also you can dye white flowers by putting them in a glass of food-coloured water, the dye travels up the stem. You can even split the stem in half and put one half in each glass of different colours and the petals will be coloured half of each colour!

Penguin0fMadagascar Mon 24-Feb-14 09:19:07

There's a good one you can do with static electricity. Take a drinking straw and rub it a couple of times (in one direction only) with a synthetic fabric to give it a charge. Balance the straw on top of a bottle or something similar. Bring your finger near to one end of the straw and it should repel it enough to make the straw spin away slowly.

LEMmingaround Mon 24-Feb-14 09:19:30

Mix cornflour with water makes gloop that doesn't stick to anything

fuzzpig Mon 24-Feb-14 09:20:18

I've never heard of the cabbage thing, that sounds fab!

TBH I've heard most science 'kits' are a bit rubbish really, and there's so much you can do at home that you're not missing out by not buying smile

BuggedByJake Mon 24-Feb-14 09:20:24

Corn flour and water make interesting 'goo'.
Tie two pieces of string to one end of a metal slinky, put your fingers through the string & in your ears...listen to the amazing sound!
Put liquids of different densities in a jar, oil, water, honey etc. Drop objects in to the jar to see which level they drop to.
Make an egg gloat in salt water.
There are loads if you look online.

BuggedByJake Mon 24-Feb-14 09:22:29

Make an egg float

LEMmingaround Mon 24-Feb-14 09:23:44

If you leave an egg overnight in salt water it will double in size

WILL it? In its shell and everything?

LEMmingaround Mon 24-Feb-14 09:56:12

no it wont blush looks like you have to take the shell off Still cool though, but much faff

whogrewoutoftheterribletwos Mon 24-Feb-14 10:02:06

Freeze a big block of water/salt water then put it into a sinkful of water and recreate the titanic with a paper boat (easy to fold - templates online)

RufusTheReindeer Mon 24-Feb-14 10:08:56

Very cheap large bottle of coke and a pack of mentos

Drop a mentos into the coke and it should fizz over like a mini volcano

Cubs and beavers do loads but I can't remember half of them

Make some coloured ice cubes and watch them melt in plain water. Especially good in a clear bowl like a fish tank.

Freeze some little toys like farm animals into a bowl of ice overnight. Explore how to get the toys out.

Colour mixing - cup of red dyed water, cup of yellow dyed water, cup of plain water in between. Kitchen roll dipped into the red and clear and another one dipped into the clear and blue one. The coloured water will travel up the towel and mix into orange in the middle cup

Egg Suck - glass bottle, egg in shell resting on top of bottle. Drop a lit match in and replace egg, watch it get sucked whole into the bottle.

Cornflower and water mixed. Turn a stereo speaker on its side and cover in cling film. Pour the mixture onto the actual grid speaker part and play musoc with a heavy base. Watch the mixture take on a sort of animal form.

MmeLindor Mon 24-Feb-14 10:19:34

This one is fab

Don't buy a kit - we've been given two of them and found them very limiting. There is loads you can do using stuff you've got around the house.

Damnautocorrect Mon 24-Feb-14 10:22:22

I've a science kit from letterbox, reviews weren't very good. But I've found it brilliant. It is basic stuff but the test tubes and beakers are very 5 yo friendly. It involves a lot of colours and things (not included) but it's a good starting point. It has lots of little cards with suggestions, yes if you have the time and inclination you can get and do it all without. My little one loves sitting picking out the experiment, rather than me 'today we are going to'

SundaySimmons Mon 24-Feb-14 10:27:18

Does an Orange Float or Sink?

Does an orange float or sink when placed in water? Seems like a fairly straight forward question, but is it? Give this fun density science experiment for kids a try and answer the question while learning a unique characteristic of oranges.

What you'll need:

An orange
A deep bowl or container


Fill the bowl with water.
Put the orange in the water and watch what happens.
Peel the rind from the orange and try the experiment again, what happens this time?

What's happening?

The first time you put the orange in the bowl of water it probably floated on the surface, after you removed the rind however, it probably sunk to the bottom, why?

The rind of an orange is full of tiny air pockets which help give it a lower density than water, making it float to the surface. Removing the rind (and all the air pockets) from the orange increases its density higher than that of water, making it sink.

Density is the mass of an object relative to its volume. Objects with a lot of matter in a certain volume have a high density, while objects with a small amount of matter in the same volume have a low density.

Nocomet Mon 24-Feb-14 10:27:24

Chromatography, some felt pen inks split into different colours with water or alcohol. Coffee filters make good bolting paper for this.

Blue bells change colour in weak vinegar and bicarbonate. Other blue flowers do too.

Hydrangeas have different flower colours dependent on soil type. Not instant, but a great talking point for visitors if you have them in pots on the patio.

SundaySimmons Mon 24-Feb-14 10:29:36

Experience Gravity Free Water

What goes up must come down right? Well try bending the rules a little with a cup of water that stays inside the glass when held upside down. You'll need the help of some cardboard and a little bit of air pressure.

What you'll need:

A glass filled right to the top with water
A piece of cardboard


Put the cardboard over the mouth of the glass, making sure that no air bubbles enter the glass as you hold onto the cardboard.
Turn the glass upside down (over a sink or outside until you get good).
Take away your hand holding the cardboard.

What's happening?

If all goes to plan then the cardboard and water should stay put. Even though the cup of water is upside down the water stays in place, defying gravity! So why is this happening? With no air inside the glass, the air pressure from outside the glass is greater than the pressure of the water inside the glass. The extra air pressure manages to hold the cardboard in place, keeping you dry and your water where it should be, inside the glass.

SundaySimmons Mon 24-Feb-14 10:31:05

Will the Ice Melt and Overflow?

At first thought you might think that an ice cube sitting at the very top of a glass would eventually melt and spill over the sides but is this what really happens? Experiment and find out!

What you'll need:

A clear glass
Warm water
An ice cube


Fill the glass to the top with warm water.
Gently lower in the ice cube, making sure you don’t bump the table or spill any water over the edge of the glass.
Watch the water level carefully as the ice cube melts, what happens?

What's happening?

Even though the ice cube melted the water doesn’t overflow. When water freezes to make ice it expands and takes up more space than it does as liquid water (that’s why water pipes sometimes burst during cold winters). The water from the ice takes up less space than the ice itself. When the ice cube melts, the level of the water stays about the same.

SundaySimmons Mon 24-Feb-14 10:32:10

Make an Egg Float in Salt Water

An egg sinks to the bottom if you drop it into a glass of ordinary drinking water but what happens if you add salt? The results are very interesting and can teach you some fun facts about density.

What you'll need:

One egg
A tall drinking glass


Pour water into the glass until it is about half full.
Stir in lots of salt (about 6 tablespoons).
Carefully pour in plain water until the glass is nearly full (be careful to not disturb or mix the salty water with the plain water).
Gently lower the egg into the water and watch what happens.

What's happening?

Salt water is denser than ordinary tap water, the denser the liquid the easier it is for an object to float in it. When you lower the egg into the liquid it drops through the normal tap water until it reaches the salty water, at this point the water is dense enough for the egg to float. If you were careful when you added the tap water to the salt water, they will not have mixed, enabling the egg to amazingly float in the middle of the glass.

SundaySimmons Mon 24-Feb-14 10:33:44

Invisible Ink with Lemon Juice

Making invisible ink is a lot of fun, you can pretend you are a secret agent as you keep all your secret codes and messages hidden from others. All you need is some basic household objects and the hidden power of lemon juice.

What you'll need:

Half a lemon
Cotton bud
White paper
Lamp or other light bulb


Squeeze some lemon juice into the bowl and add a few drops of water.
Mix the water and lemon juice with the spoon.
Dip the cotton bud into the mixture and write a message onto the white paper.
Wait for the juice to dry so it becomes completely invisible.
When you are ready to read your secret message or show it to someone else, heat the paper by holding it close to a light bulb.

What's happening?

Lemon juice is an organic substance that oxidizes and turns brown when heated. Diluting the lemon juice in water makes it very hard to notice when you apply it the paper, no one will be aware of its presence until it is heated and the secret message is revealed. Other substances which work in the same way include orange juice, honey, milk, onion juice, vinegar and wine. Invisible ink can also be made using chemical reactions or by viewing certain liquids under ultraviolet (UV) light.

SundaySimmons Mon 24-Feb-14 10:35:15

Test Your Dominant Side

Check out this cool experiment that will teach you more about how your body and brain work together. Test your dominant side by completing a series of challenges. Which hand do you write with? Which foot do you kick with? Do you have a dominant eye? Do you throw with one side of your body but kick with the other? Are you ambidextrous? Answer these questions and much more with this fun science experiment for kids.

What you'll need:

A pen or pencil
Paper or a notepad to write your findings on
An empty tube (an old paper towel tube is good)
A cup of water
A small ball (or something soft you can throw)


Write ‘left’ or ‘right’ next to each task depending on what side you used/favored.
When you’ve finished all the challenges review your results and make your own conclusions about which is your dominant eye, hand and foot.

Eye tests:

Which eye do you use to wink?
Which eye do you use to look through the empty tube?
Extend your arms in front of your body. Make a triangle shape using your fore fingers and thumbs. Bring your hands together, making the triangle smaller (about the size of a coin is good). Find a small object in the room and focus on it through the hole in your hands (using both eyes). Try closing just your left eye and then just your right, if your view of the object changed when you closed your left eye mark down ‘left’, if it changed when you closed your right eye mark down ‘right’.

Hand/Arm tests:

Which hand do you use to write?
Pick up the cup of water, which hand did you use?
Throw the ball, which arm did you use?

Foot/Leg tests:

Run forward and jump off one leg, which did you jump off?
Drop the ball on the ground and kick it, which foot did you use?

What's happening?

So what side do you favor? Are you left handed or right handed? Left footed or right footed? Is your right eye dominant or is it your left?

Around 90% of the world’s population is right handed. Why most people favor the right side is not completely understood by scientists. Some think that the reason is related to which side of your brain you use for language. The right side of your body is controlled by the left side of your brain, and in around 90% of people the left side of the brain also controls language.

Others think the reason might have more to do with culture. The word ‘right’ is associated being correct and doing the right thing while the word ‘left’ originally meant ‘weak’. Favoring the right hand may have become a social development as more children were taught important skills by right handed people and various tools were designed to be used with the right hand.

Around 80% of people are right footed and 70% favor their right eye. These percentages are lower than those who are right handed and this could be because your body has more freedom of choice in choosing its favored foot and eye than that of its favored hand. In other words you are more likely to be trained to use your right hand than your right foot and even more so than your right eye.

It’s not strange to find people who favor the opposite hand and foot (e.g. left hand and right foot), and some people are lucky enough to be ambidextrous, meaning they can use their left and right sides with equal skill.

Try testing others and coming to your on conclusions about what side the human body favors and why.

Extra: Are you more likely to be left handed if one of your parents is left handed? What are some of the possible disadvantages for left handed people? (Tools, writing materials etc) Do left handed people have an advantage in sports?

Interesting fact: In 2009, only 7% of the players in the NBA were left handed while in 2008 around 26% of MLB pitchers were left handed.

Is it better to be left handed in some sports than others? What do you think?

Flicktheswitch Mon 24-Feb-14 10:35:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SundaySimmons Mon 24-Feb-14 10:36:34

Bend a Straw with Your Eyes

Using the power of your eyes, bend a straw sitting in half a glass of water without even touching it! It sounds like magic but it's really another amazing scientific principle at work.

What you'll need:

A glass half filled with water
A straw
2 eyes (preferably yours)


Look at the straw from the top and bottom of the glass.
Look at the straw from the side of the glass, focus on the point where the straw enters the water, what is strange about what you see?

What's happening?

Our eyes are using light to see various objects all the time, but when this light travels through different mediums (such as water & air) it changes direction slightly. Light refracts (or bends) when it passes from water to air. The straw looks bent because you are seeing the bottom part through the water and air but the top part through the air only. Air has a refractive index of around 1.0003 while water has a refractive index of about 1.33.

zommerslefteyeball Mon 24-Feb-14 11:00:47

my 5yr old was amused for half a day with just the "will it float or sink" game by finding something to put in a bowl of water.
Obv. some supervision is needed before they put an ipod in there though!

Penguin0fMadagascar Mon 24-Feb-14 11:10:56

Ooh just thought of another - the "floating arms" experiment. Stand in a doorway with your arms by your sides, then raise them so that the backs of your hands press against the frame. Push outwards as hard as you can and count to 30. Then step out of the doorway - your arms will float upwards without any effort from you because your triceps will continue to contract. Not sure how well this will work with a 5-year old as they may struggle to reach the doorframe or to stand still for 30 seconds!

HappyAsEyeAm Mon 24-Feb-14 12:19:48

Oh wow. Thanks very much everyone for all the ideas. thanks

ReadyToPopAndFresh Mon 24-Feb-14 12:22:55
slug Mon 24-Feb-14 12:28:13

Once you've done the volcano experiment, use the same principals to make honeycomb

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Mon 24-Feb-14 14:06:18

Great thread - hope you don't mind, have asked MNHQ to move it so it doesn't disappear (it might take me more than 90 days to get round to some of these grin)

Weliveinabeautifulworld Mon 24-Feb-14 14:08:36

During the summer you could teach him the difference between solid and liquid by making ice-lollies smile

CaffeinatedKitten Mon 24-Feb-14 14:14:44

Make ice without a freezer. In a big bowl, mix lots and lots and lots of salt and water. In a smaller bowl put plain water and sit it in the big bowl, making sure no salt water enters it. The water in the smaller bowl will start to crystallisesmile

Farrowandbawl Mon 24-Feb-14 14:44:42

Make a cornflake move about in milk using only a magnet.

The iron in the cereal is attracted to the magnet so you can chase it around the bowl.

Opheliabumps Mon 24-Feb-14 16:41:00

This is fab, it's got to go into classics! My DC have just finished half term, but now I can't wait for the Easter holidays to try some of these.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Mon 24-Feb-14 17:16:48

This is brilliant! Marking place.

Put lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda in a film canister, put the lid on and give it a shake. Then run very far away as the lid is likely to shoot off at serious speed. (To be done outside, with lots of supervision and preferably safety specs!) Alternatively (and much much safer) put a balloon over the canister rather than the lid and watch the balloon blow up all by itself!

If anyone lives near Cambridge have a look at this site for something sciencey and fabulous on the 15th March. My best friend ran this back in the late 90s and I fell in love with my dh watching him demonstrate the lemon juice experiment to a really cute little boy.

Allthingsprettyreturns Mon 24-Feb-14 17:31:49

Google bird in a cage optical illusion or stick it in you tube

The diet and non diet drinks experimemt is easy.

Get your ds to guess which cans will float or not. Sugary ones will sink and diet ones will float

NotCitrus Mon 24-Feb-14 17:49:45

Possibly for the summer - study centrifugal forces by filling a bucket of water and swinging it round over your head.
Make a toy roundabout and have fun flinging Lego people off it as you spin it.
Balancing lots of coins on a see-saw - challenge.them to balance the thing when you put a number of coins in one place, but they can't just do the same.

Sieving soil or sand or compost with a colander and sieve to see what size bits are there.
And the classic sending them on a ladybird/woodlouse hunt in the garden (while you have a cup of tea)

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Mon 24-Feb-14 18:55:18

Get an oscilloscope app and measure the frequencies generated by blowing over the tops of various sized bottles.

BikeRunSki Mon 24-Feb-14 19:07:42

The book people have got anUsborne book at tge moment called Junior Science Encyclopedia or's £4 andhas home science experiment ideas.

We play a game called "Sink or Float" where we get things of similar shape and size, but different material (metal spoon , plastic spoon; golf ball, ping pong ball) and a big bowl of water and guess if they are going to sink or float before we put them in the bucket.

Noggie Mon 24-Feb-14 19:12:25

Get a little bottle of sparkling water- have a gulg then pop some raisins in and watch them 'dance' up.....

Make bubble mixture. Washing up liquid, a few drops of glycerin and water, you could experiment with quantities of each one, (more glycerine will make mega strong bubbles) you could make different blowers, eg with pipe cleaners etc.

AmyMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 25-Feb-14 11:38:33

Hi there,

We've moved this thread to education so you don't lose your great ideas. Hope that's okay!

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Tue 25-Feb-14 13:37:35

I recommend The Happy Scientist which has a lot of experiments divided by interest as well as age as in the link I gave by grade group, the kindergarten level has quite a few mentioned here and some more.

AngryPrincess Tue 25-Feb-14 20:11:20

You could give them a magnet and get them to test what things around the house are magnetic and which are not, get them to guess first.
You can give them a bowl of water and get them to test what things dissolve and which don't.
And get some soapy water and see which utensils are good for blowing bubbles.
I like leaving some celery in water with food colouring. You can cut the celery and see where the water goes up the stem.

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