I got this idea from Play at Home Mom. This project appealed to me in particular because 1) it was easy, and 2) it was cheap. In fact, I already had everything in the house except the trashy oil. (I wasn’t about to use my organic extra virgin olive oil for this).
The kids spent the morning outside and by the time they were ready to come in, I was just about ready to deal with them. Ha. So I assembled all the materials.
Clean jars with screw lids.
A funnel, said trashy oil, and water.
Food coloring and denture cleanser. Play at Home Mom recommends Alka-Seltzer, which is probably better. My denture cleanser turned everything blue. Beautiful, but blue. (Since you asked, I have denture cleanser because it’s a great way to clean a retainer, or a tooth whitening tray. Little bonus tip for you).
First, pour in the oil. You’re aiming to get your jar 3/4 full, but if you run low on oil like I did, just divide the oil evenly among your jars. Use smaller jars if you have to. I went big because I was going for realism (remember lava lamps? No? Never mind).
With a wide, sturdy funnel, even the baby had a go. (He’s two. Can I still call him a baby?)
Pour in the water. Play at Home Mom advises filling your jar the rest of the way with water, leaving a little space at the top. Since were low on oil, we only put in one cup of water. Handily, this was the perfect size measuring cup for little hands to lift on their own. If you use more than one cup, do them one at a time so the little ones can pour the water in themselves.
I added the food coloring myself (I have my limits when delegating), so there are no photos. The baby chose yellow and his big brother chose blue.
Keep an eye on things, boys.
Then, drop in a fizzy tablet. Wait until it’s done bubbling and drop in a second one.
Watch as the bubbles take action.
Stick your tongue out for maximum concentration.
There are no lights in these lava “lamps” but, due to some strategic backlighting provided by a glass door, they did glow. And they did delight.
The denture cleanser turned both jars different shades of greenish-blue. We got to talk about what happens when blue meets yellow. And those bubbles are actually sliding up the jar, not down, due to the effervescence. I’m not one for educational toys, but this was some pretty cool science going on.
They thought so too.
Finally, we swirled them all up. They looked like choppy tropical seas.
Later today, when they need another diversion, we’ll add more food coloring, and two more fizzy tablets, and see what other kinds of colors we can come up with.
All in all, this was a very worthwhile project for little kids! Here are a couple more: Button Wreaths and Paper Flowers. If you have older kids (much, much older than mine), this might be a great idea: Knit a Scarf from Scratch and Watch Your Mom’s Eyes Fall Out.