You already know how much kids love bubbles (and let’s face it, you probably love them, too). What could make bubbles even more fun? These great experiments and activities we did brought bubbles to the next level and intrigued students, parents, and teachers alike!
We did these activities the week the students were learning about the letter B. It made a real nice tie-in between the letter sound and all the fun things we were doing in the classroom. We started by reading the book “Bubble Bubble” by Mercer Mayer. The little boy in the book makes magic bubbles in the shapes of all kinds of animals. Then we asked the children if they thought we could make magic bubbles and told them we had some experiments to find out.
Experiment 1: Shaped Bubbles?
The first experiment was simple. We had made some bubble wands out of pipe cleaners in different shapes: square and triangle are some simple ones to make. I asked the children to make a prediction (yes, I used this word. I believe the more we use vocabulary with children, the more they will understand it and use it themselves). They guessed what would happen if I made a bubble using a square-shaped bubble wand. I got all kinds of responses. In fact, after reading the story, one child thought maybe a dragon-shaped bubble would come out!
Of course, after trying it out, we found that no matter what shape our wand, the bubbles will always come out round. This is because of surface tension; the wall of the bubble will automatically make the shape with the least surface area it can. I told the kids the air inside the bubble pushes out evenly on all sides, which makes the bubble a circle (or technically a sphere, but we won’t get into that).
Experiment 2: Popping Bubbles (and Putting Things Inside Bubbles)
The next experiment got a little more fun. Now I asked the children what makes a bubble pop? They decided that things that are sharp are what will pop bubbles. We tested this with a pencil. Sure enough, the pencil popped the bubble. But wait, what if we try something that is not sharp? Next, we tried a toy that had smooth edges. It popped the bubble, too. We decided that it must not be sharpness that pops a bubble. I told the kids that bubbles most often pop not because they touch something sharp, but because they touch something dry. Bubbles are wet and they need to stay wet, but when they touch something dry, that dry thing absorbs (we’ve been using this word with the children a lot at school and many of them understand what it means now) a bit of the bubble’s water and makes a hole in the bubble.
So then the fun began; I showed the kids what would happen if I tried to pop the bubble with the same pencil I used before, but this time I dipped it in bubble solution and got it nice and wet first. The pencil went right through the bubble! We tried this with the toy, too, and then our fingers! We had bubble solution in our sand and water table, and let the kids try this themselves during playtime. They had so much fun! One girl was so excited to show me the bean she put inside her bubble!
Experiment 3: Bouncing Bubbles and “Boo” Bubbles
Okay, this one was really more of a science activity than an “experiment,” but it was really fun for everybody! We owe our thanks here to SteveSpanglerScience.com for showing us these really neat things we can do with bubbles. To be honest, we have really become a bunch of Steve Spangler groupies around here.
*Please remember to use caution when doing this activity!*
We made our own contraption with a pickle jar and some tubing (actually my boss’ husband made it). We gave each of the children a sock, which worked the same as the glove in the video. We blew these little smoke-filled bubbles all over and let the kids catch them and bounce them in their hands! An interesting fact: since the CO2 is so heavy, these bubbles go down instead of floating up like most bubbles do!
A few things to remember:
1. Never touch dry ice!
2. Do not fill the water past the hose or seal off the jar in a way in which no air can come out.
When we were doing the experiment, something somehow got clogged and we felt the pressure building up in the jar! We had to take the lid off and let the air out so there wouldn’t be an explosion!
Since hands-on, self-guided exploration is so important to young children, we made sure there were opportunities for bubble exploration in (and outside of) the classroom, including the art table and easel, the sand and water table, and outside on the playground.
Bubbles is one of my favorite things to do with the kids (especially with the dry ice bubbles). In addition to the kids’ own excitement about the activities, they fed off my enthusiasm. Children can always tell these kind of things. The more you are interested in something, the more likely it is that the kids will be interested in it, too. This was one of the great examples of how fun and learning can (and should) go hand-in-hand.