Parents are up against a powerful foe on the weekends. Video games occupy kids for hours on end. Though entertaining and engrossing, most of them don’t do much for your child’s development, which makes weekends an intellectual black hole. Most kids roll their eyes at the idea of educational activities that cut into their gaming time, but an instructional activity doesn’t have to be boring and school-like. Some can be as effective at holding your child’s attention as the latest video game and may even spur an interest in science, a dream scenario for any parent. They’re especially handy for single fathers, since they can be done as a family and are a great way to spend some quality time together.
The water cycle bag experiment is an easy activity requiring nothing more than some plastic sandwich bags and food coloring. Simply place ¼ cup of water in a dish and add four drops of food coloring. Then pour the mixture into a plastic bag, seal it, and take it to a window. The sunlight gradually causes the water to evaporate, and it eventually changes back into condensed water, in imitation of nature’s water cycle. Ultimately, you’re left with a form of precipitation in a bag!
Young kids love activities that allow them to incorporate their name in decorative and striking ways. The crystal names experiment uses Borax, food coloring, pipe cleaners, and a little fishing line to produce colored crystals which adhere to pipe cleaners spelling out their name. Hold each “letter” up in the sunlight to see how they sparkle. Borax dissolved in water creates a suspension, with solid particles that are big enough for sedimentation to take place, and colored crystals are formed.
Few home experiments are as fun as making a glass of lava. Simply fill a glass ¾ full of water, add five drops of food coloring, and then pour in ¼ cup of vegetable oil, which will float to the top since it’s lighter than water. The fun really starts when you sprinkle salt on top to make globs of “lava” begin to move around. Homemade puffy paint is also a fun experiment for all ages. Mix Elmer’s glue and shaving cream in a container or on a paper plate, and then add a few drops of food coloring and mix slowly until you get the proper consistency. All that’s left is to get some paper and brushes and let your imagination take over.
Your kids may be familiar with the tried-and-true egg-drop challenge, since it’s a popular experiment among science instructors. The objective is to build a container that’s capable of keeping an egg from breaking when dropped from a high place. This one is fun because there’s no limit on the kinds of material you can use—as long as they’re soft! For this one, try toilet paper rolls, newspaper, popsicle sticks, a shoebox, plastic bag, rubber bands, string, and balloons. Attach toilet paper rolls at four corners of a sponge using tape. Place an egg in the middle of them and run tape around the outside of the rolls to secure the egg. Next, attach a plastic bag as an umbrella, attaching it to your “egg carrier” with string. Now, it’s time for your experiment. You can use a play set in the backyard, drop if from the top of a step ladder, or let it fall out the window. Just make sure the coast is clear before you let go!
If your kids are into geology, your own backyard can be your laboratory. Conduct your own “acid” test using white vinegar to determine whether you have limestone deposits. Pour vinegar into several bowls, find some rock samples, and place one in each bowl. If bubbles form in one, you know you’ve found a limestone rock!
Single dads are often challenged to find educational activities that their children can enjoy. Scientific experiments can be fun as well as instructional. The best part is, you can do many of them at home with commonplace household items.
Picture Courtesy of Pixabay.
Daniel Sherwin is the proud single father to two amazing kids (a daughter and a son). After noticing the lack of resources on the web for single dads, he started DadSolo.com so that others could learn from his successes, failures, and everything in between.
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