Today was another one of those “I-saw-it-on-Pinterest-and-had-to-try-it-myself” kind of days for me at preschool. I’ve had this idea pinned for a while now, and since today was White Day, I thought making Ivory soap clouds would be the perfect science experiment.
I brought a microwave down from the kitchen and put it on the counter next to our circle time area. I started circle time by doing a flannel board for the book “It Looked Like Spilt Milk,” which talks about all the different shapes clouds make and all the different things they can look like. Then, I took out the bar of soap (we had to talk a little bit about what a bar of soap is; most of the children were only familiar with liquid soap). I told them that this kind of soap has little pockets of air inside of it. We also talked about how when air gets hot, the molecules move away from each other and expand. I had the children make predictions as to what would happen if I heated the soap up in the microwave. They had some really great guesses. Some thought we would see the air bubbles come out of the soap, some thought it would melt, some thought it would expand in the microwave but then get smaller when we took it out.
Then I cut just a small piece of the soap off, put it on the plate, and put it in the microwave. I set it for 2 minutes, but the reaction was over in about 1 minute. The air bubbles expand and cause the softened soap to enlarge in puffy mounds. It ends up looking like a big fluffy white cloud. Once it stops growing, it doesn’t do much else, so it doesn’t hurt to leave it in the microwave longer, but there’s not much point in it, either.
During play time, the children had a chance to come over and I helped them make their own soap cloud. This was nice because they got a chance to see the process up close better than they could at circle time. I reminded them to be careful and not touch the cloud until it has cooled a bit because it is a little hot when you take it out of the microwave. To go with the story, I had them tell me what they thought it looked like once it came out of the microwave and I wrote that on the paper plate. That way they got to take home their soap clouds and I told them they could use in their bath tonight.