Color mixing is such a great way for kids and toddlers to experiment! They choose colors, observe what happens, and try out different combinations to see what comes out. It nurtures their curious mind and develops their thinking skills. And they are able to do it by themselves which is always so much fun! The set up requires some help from an adult but you can also involve your kids in the design process and foster some DIY engineering abilities. We kept trying out the angle of the bottles together to see if we had to position them in a “more vertical or more horizontal” way. Keep reading to find out how we set up this water play for kids:
3 plastic bottles with their tops
A big container to collect the water
3 containers to mix primary colors
Something to scoop and pour water (we used measuring cups with handles)
Food coloring (red, blue, yellow)
Water Play For Kids Set Up:
Cut off the bottom of two of the bottles and cut the other one in half
Fix them to a tree, wall, corkboard… we used nails to fix ours to a big pine tree
Mix water and food coloring
Experiment with colors
That’s it! A simple set up, loads of color mixing fun.
A simple project which includes some hands-on activities with a lot of learning potential. This project is great for preschoolers but can be done with younger or older kids. It will get you and your little ones exploring nature, working on motor skills and developing scientific vocabulary through observation and play. I love that it is such a simple project but at the same time involves different hands-on activities that can be done together as a family and that offer teachable moments. I would recommend doing the project over the weekend when you have time for all the different steps and can truly engage in a way that is beneficial for your kids.
Why Use Hands-On Activities For Preschoolers?
Hands-on activities are a great way to get your kids motivated and engaged. By allowing our kids to use their hands, the learning experience moves away from abstract concepts toward something that they can relate to. This creates the perfect environment to boost learning! It is especially important for preschoolers to engage in hands-on learning as they develop vocabulary. Even more so when dealing with scientific concepts such as melting or freezing. It is very difficult to understand these concepts if they cannot experience it with their own senses. By giving them the chance to engage in fun hands-on activities you are creating the perfect environment to nurture their curiosity and sneak in some STEM.
STEM Nature Egg Project
The project is very simple and involves a number of hands-on activities for preschoolers that you can all do together. Enjoy the process and don’t try to rush to the final product. Give you and your kids time to explore. Here are the materials you will need and the steps with some tips and suggestions to sneak in STEM skills and learning opportunities.
Empty egg shells (we used 6)
Containers for water
Project And Hands-On Activities For Preschoolers Or Older Kids
1. Prepare the eggshells
Preparation is a very important part of any project. In this case, we need to empty the egg shells before we can fill them up again. The night before you intend to do this project make sure to use those eggs for dinner! Scrambled eggs or an omelette are always a fast and easy meal at our home. Get your kids to help, involve them in the process.
The egg needs to be cracked open at the top, we used a spoon to bang the top of the eggshell. Empty the eggshell, rinse them and place them back in the egg carton. Make sure to peel enough shell away so that it can later be easily filled with all the lovely things you will collect.
2. Have a nature walk to collect materials
I love involving nature in any activity we do. It is so important and beneficial to take time out of our busy lives and just be in nature so go ahead and take a nature walk to gather materials. It can be in your garden, around your neighbourhood or even drive somewhere and make a small trip out of it. Take your time to talk about colors, plants, the different textures or sounds in nature. You can make a game out of it by asking your kids to find certain materials. Preschoolers love searching for things, for example:
Can you find something red?
Can you find something soft?
3. Fill the eggshells with natural materials and water
Bring the egg carton out with all the empty eggshells. Have your kids fill them with the natural materials you collected. At this point you can just let them do their thing or you can guide the activity a bit and sneak in some STEM skills. For example, have them sort the different materials using different senses and see what happens:
Use your eyes to sort by color or type of flower
Try using your nose to sort by smell
Use your hands to sort by touch (soft/rough)
Once all the eggshells are full have your kids pour some water into them and place the egg carton with your nature eggs in the freezer. Time to ask some questions and explore concepts:
What do you think will happen?
Explore the different concepts of liquid/solid, freeze/melt, cold/hot, water/ice and develop their vocabulary. This can be done by just talking about the subjects
If you are doing this with older kids you can make a before and after chart with this vocabulary
4. Prepare a hands-on exploration station
Once the water has frozen, set up a space for exploration and play. Have a bowl of warm water to help peel the eggs (we found that it was difficult to peel the eggs right out of the freezer so we used warm water to melt the ice a bit and make it easier to peel the eggs). Let them explore and make observations. Ask questions and use these observations to explain concepts if you wish. For example:
What happens when you put the frozen nature eggs in the water?
Can you see anything happening to the ice?
What happens to the natural materials?
What happens to the temperature of the bowl of water?
My 3-year-old daughter observed that the ice floated and got smaller! Great scientific observation and great invitation to talk about what is happening, why the ice was getting smaller. Keep playing and exploring as long as your kids are happy and entertained. My kid went on to prepare flower soup for everyone, she put all the frozen nature eggs in the bowl, added water and mixed it all until the ice disappeared and only the natural materials were left. It was pretty cool! So just play and experiment with what you have at hand and have fun with your kids.
To finish off I will leave you with a summary of STEM concepts that you can use throughout these hands-on activities for preschoolers.
STEM Concepts and Skills:
Collecting, sorting, categorizing and observing
States of matter: liquid/solid water/ice
Change of state: freeze/melt
Problem solving: how can you get the flowers out of the ice?
Thinking and reflecting on why things happen: a lot happens in this simple hands-on project and it is simple enough for children to start observing and making conclusions by themselves so keep asking open-ended questions that start with why do you think…? Or what do you see…? Or what happens…? and watch how their little brains work.
Hope to have inspired some hands-on fun you can do with your preschooler.
Learning new things while using your senses helps create a stronger connection to the concepts you are learning. By involving different senses during an educational experience we help our kids learn in a more engaging way. We also help deepen the knowledge they acquire through the experience. This multisensory learning activity aims to teach children about different materials through less-used senses such as hearing and touch. It is a great activity for parents and/or teachers to introduce or reinforce the topic of materials.
I remember when I was studying to be an engineer, any class related to materials was extremely boring. A lot of information about their properties and characteristics was thrown at us and we were just expected to memorize it. The problem with this type of learning is that you will not retain the information for long and it is a pity because materials are extremely important in STEM-related fields. One needs to be able to select the appropriate materials for a specific project that has specific requirements. Having said this, I believe that giving children the chance to explore the topic of materials in a more hands-on approach will give them a positive connection to the subject. And this always helps with motivation and learning!
Preparation and Guidance
This multisensory learning activity will help children explore materials and their properties by using their hands and ears! So the first thing you need to do is gather objects made out of different materials. Here are some suggestions:
Once you have collected the materials it is time to explore. For younger kids, select 3 different materials to start with. If they like the activity and are motivated you can start it all over again with 3 new materials. For older kids, you could start with 5. Begin by telling them that you are going to explore these objects just with your hands. Tell them to close their eyes and grab an object. Once they have it in their hands ask them some of the following questions (write down the answers):
Does it feel hard or soft?
Is it heavy or light?
Is it flexible or stiff? Can it bend without breaking?
Does it feel rough or smooth?
Now that you have explored some materials with your hands it is time to use your ears! For each material look at your answers and then try to make a sound with the object by hitting it, scratching it or any other way you can think of. Try to find a connection! Connections always make information stay longer in the brain 😉
Is there any connection between the way a material sounds and its properties?
Finally, after you have explored and looked for connections it is time to play a game and have some fun with what you learned!
Multisensory Learning Activity: Guess the Material
The STEM game is a simple guessing game in which kids will need to use their hands and ears to identify the materials. Basically, you will ask your children to close their eyes and then either give them an object they have to explore with their hands or make a sound with one of the objects. See if they can guess the type of material! Depending on your children’s’ age they can either guess directly with their eyes closed or they can give the object back to you and you mix it in with the other objects. When they open their eyes they have to look at the objects and try to guess which one it was.
To make it a bit more educational they can also try to identify properties first before they say what type of material it is. For this, you would first ask the same questions you did at the beginning with slight variations depending on if they are touching or listening:
Does it feel/sound hard or soft? Heavy or light? Flexible or stiff? Rough or smooth?
If children know the properties well you can ask in the following way:
What do you think if feels/sounds like?
I challenge you to try it out with them and not just be the moderator! Play with your kids and see if you can also guess the materials! We rely so heavily on sight that even these simple activities might be a bit more complicated than we expect. You could even try your sense of smell for this activity! Who knows what you might discover. I hope you enjoyed this little activity and that you have fun giving your senses some time to explore something different.
Check out other fun sensory STEM activities to sneak in some STEM learning: