Cotton Ball Science

Are you planning a Vacation Bible School this summer? Have you ever wanted to combine teaching science with teaching religion with your kids?  Then you must check out this book of science activities that illustrate Bible lessons!

I found this gem when I was preparing to give a talk to my church’s moms group. The topic is how to teach your kids about science and God’s creation. And of course I had to plan a talk to include a hands-on experiment!  I think this cotton ball experiment will be perfect to do with a large crowd (and inexpensive!)

So of course I tested it out with my kids and they LOVED it! The object is to see how many cotton balls you can place in a glass of water without it overflowing. The bible verse the book pairs with it is “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20)

Check this out. I just love how her expression changes from skeptical to magical.

What is the science?

Cotton is made of a plant fiber called cellulose. Cellulose under a microscope would look like tiny tubes filled with air. A cotton ball is made up of many tubes of cellulose. A cotton ball itself has a volume that is mostly empty space filled with air. So when you place the cotton ball in the glass it will mostly absorb the water instead of displacing it. Who knew a cotton ball is basically an air ball?

Q: How many cotton balls you can place in a glass of water without it overflowing?

A: We had to stop at 30 because I ran out of cotton balls. How many can you do?

What is the Bible lesson?

The cotton ball is surprising in it’s properties just as God capacity to love us is beyond our imagination.

I hope you enjoy sharing God’s creation with your little scientists!

Categories: 3 ingredient experiments, 5 minute experiments, lovely conversations Tags: , , ,
7 Ways to Feel Less Awkward When Doing Science with Your Kids

Do you ever feel like this when you want to start a science experiment with your kids? I’ll admit, I still feel awkward when I say, “OK kids! It’s time to do science!”  It feels so forced and corny.

But there are so many benefits of starting an appreciation of science at home with your kids. Take for example reading. When you read to your kids, you instill an appreciation of reading in them. I love this quote below. It really sums it up for me. Don’t you think?

So here are 7 ways to get over the awkward part of starting science and get to the fun part of doing science with your kids!

  1. Involve food: The most natural way to have a science conversation is when it involves food. You start baking and then start asking your kids questions. Why does the bread rise? What does baking soda do? Make some bread and start a great science lesson!

2. Head out in nature: This was one of my favorite conversations with Allie was when we walked out in nature and made flower bracelets. I got the idea here. It really is amazing how much science is in your own backyard.

3. Make it magic: So many magic tricks involve science. This one is a lot of fun to do while waiting in a busy restaurant. The whole family can get involved!

4. Let go of your expectationsI remember one summer I wanted so badly to do an experiment I saw on Pinterest with my then 5 year old daughter. All she wanted to do was experiment with things that float in the pool. I let go of my expectations and watched her be her own scientist. Kids know how to do that better than we do!


5. Give them their own science kit: We give our kids doctor kits why not their own science kit? These are all dollar store items that can make countless experiments right at their fingertips.

6. Science in the car: Truth be told I can’t answer half the questions my kids come up with in the car. But when they do I turn it into a teachable moment. Like where does all the rain water go? How does it get there? How does a water tower work?

The answer? Science. BAM!

7. Read a book together: We adore reading these books at bedtime. I can’t wait to introduce you to the middle grade fiction chapter book I’m releasing this summer complete with a science girl hero! Stay tuned for more info soon!

I hope this helps you feel less awkward starting science with your kids. Once you get past the awkward turtle stage it really is a lot of fun to see science through your kids eyes! Good luck!

(Awkward Turtle Photo Credit Etsy)

Categories: lovely conversations
The Classic Skittles Experiment 

Is it just me or is it now in style to get back to the classics… classic fashion, classic books, class acts? What makes something classic anyways? For kid’s science I have found that classic experiments are predictable, easy to set up, have a wow factor, and produce a ‘stick-ability’ in the minds of the beholders.

So for Science Friday at Andrew’s preschool I knew this would be a perfect activity to do alongside learning about rainbows. How many preschoolers can say that they know what a rainbow tastes like? Hint: They think it tastes like sugar and honestly I’d like to think if I could taste a real rainbow it would taste a lot like sugar too!

Here’s what you need:

  • Skittles – you can often find a small box of them for $1
  • White paper plates
  • Water

When I am doing science with kids I always look for way to make it easy to clean up. This is probably the #1 reason I don’t do science at home every single day is because I don’t want to make a mess.  But if all I need to do is fold up a paper plate when it is done then I’m all about it.

Here’s how you do it: 

  • Arrange 10 skittles around the small paper plate in a rainbow pattern
  • Pour water in the plate until all the Skittles are touching water
  • That’s it… classic.

What’s the science?

For 3 year olds, we talked about what colors are in a rainbow, what pattern we should make for a rainbow, and guessed about why Skittles dissolve in water.

For older kids, you can ask them to guess if the Skittles will dissolve faster in warm water or hypothesize on why the colors don’t initially mix together. The Skittles will dissolve faster the warmer the water because the warm water molecules are farther apart and able to fit the sugar molecules more quickly to form the solution.   Here is an interesting article about why the colors don’t mix together in M&Ms similar to Skittles. (Sounds like another experiment in the making!)

After Science Friday I had one happy guy. I mean really…candy and science is a classic winning combination every. single. time.

Here’s a fast motion video but the effect will take a few minutes for the colors to join up in the center of the plate.  Enjoy!

Categories: lovely conversations Tags: , , ,
Learn Binary Code with a Valentines Twizzler Necklace

What’s more fun than an edible candy necklace? It’s a candy necklace with a secret message!   Every year I pursue Pinterest to find a fun easy class Valentines card for my kids. This year I thought why not make it a fun learning activity too since Allie is old enough to help me assemble them.

I ran this idea past her and we thought the secret code could be the computer language of the ASCII alphabet.  This alphabet is made up of 1’s and 0’s (a binary code) and can be deciphered using two different colored Twizzlers.

What you need: Rainbow Twizzler Twists and jelly cord. (Not only are they fun colors but I found that Rainbow Twizzlers are easier to string on a necklace.)

How to do it:

  • Print out this pdf of ASCII binary code

  • Decide what secret word you want to put on your necklace (we chose the word ‘LOVE’ which is fourteen 1’s and thirteen 0’s)
  • Cut two colors of Twizzlers to 1-1/2″ sections  ( You’ll get about 7 sections per rope)
  • String the last letter on first and tie a knot
  • Continue stringing the binary code for each letter with a knot in between letters
  • Tie a bow to connect the ends of the necklace together

What’s the science?

Here is a fun video of why computers use a binary system of 1’s and 0’s to represent numbers and letters. This was a great hands on way to learn coding while making super fun gifts for friends! What kid doesn’t like a decoding challenge? (Actually the real challenge is to not eat it before you decipher the code!)  Happy Valentine’s Day y’all!


Categories: 3 ingredient experiments, gift guides, lovely conversations, science art Tags: , ,