It’s only the second week of summer break and your kids are starting to show signs of boredom. No need to panic! Spice things up with these summer science experiments that teach science skills and are a blast to do.
What sums up summer better than sun, sand and water? These summer science experiments center around one or more of these elements.
They also use items you most likely have at your house so they are simple and inexpensive fun!
Grab your kids and watch their faces light up in amazement at these fun and educational science experiments.
Extend the Experiments
Science lends itself to observation and questions. Use these experiments as the opportunity to teach your children how the world around them works. Ask them questions before, during and after the experiments to encourage them to predict, analyze and make conclusions about what they experience.
There are questions after each experiment that you can ask your children to encourage them to think on a higher level about what they have observed. Feel free to adjust and adapt each experiment in order to see what would happen if you conducted it differently or used alternate or additional materials.
The sky is the limit when doing summer science experiments with kids and that is why they are so much fun. Don’t be afraid to follow your children’s lead and see what else you might discover.
1) Sun Dials
- Paper Plate
Help your children write the numbers 1-12 on the perimeter of a paper plate so that it resembles a clock. Have your children poke a pencil through the center of the paper plate. Place the sundial outside on a sunny day and watch the shadow of the pencil change throughout the day.
- What happens to the shadow?
- Does it change sizes?
- What would happen if you put the sun dial on the ground on a cloudy day?
2) Does It Melt?
Two identical sets of the following objects:
- Sticks of gum
- Pieces of chocolate
- Toy Cars
Ask your children to place one set of objects on a plate. Then tell them to set the plate outside in the direct sunlight. Then have them place an identical set of items on the second plate and place it in a shaded area. Have your children observe the items periodically over a few hours.
- Are the items placed in the sun the same as the items placed in the shade?
- What happened to the items left in the sun?
- Were all the items in the sun affected the same way? Why or why not?
3) Solar Baking
- Two Foam Cups
- Black Construction Paper
- Two Apple Slices (of the same size)
- Plastic Wrap
- Rubber Bands
- Two Pieces of White Paper
- Aluminum Foil
Invite your children to place one apple slice in each cup. Then have them cover the cups with plastic wrap and fasten the wrap in place with rubber bands. Next, have your kids roll two pieces of white paper into cones securing the ends with tape. Have them place a lining of aluminum foil inside one of the cones. Then place an apple cup inside of each cone. Invite your children to place both cones on a piece of newspaper so that they are facing direct sunlight. Have them check the cones every half hour or so to see if the apple slices are cooking.
- Did both apples slices cook?
- Which apple slice cooked the fastest?
- Could you cook other foods the same way?
4) Sand Search
- Objects such as pennies, steel bolts and steel washers
- Large Container
Allow your kids to help you place sand in a large container. Then ask your children to close their eyes while you hide several metal objects in the sand. Then have them take turns using the magnet to find the metal objects. Your kids should soon discover that the force of the magnet will attract the bolts and washer, but not the pennies. This is because pennies are made of copper, which is not attracted to a magnet. Bolts and washers are made of steel which is attracted to a magnet.
- Did you find all the objects hidden in the sand with the magnet?
- Why do you think not all the objects were attracted to the magnet?
- What other metal objects do you think might be attracted to the magnet?
5) Moon Sand (AKA Cloud Dough)
My kids LOVE playing with Moon Sand. They could play with it for hours. It is a little messy, so make sure you do this experiment outside or use a tablecloth to minimize the clean up. See my tips for using sensory bins with kids.
- 8 Cups Flour
- 1 Cup Baby Oil
- Objects to play in the sand with such as bowls, measuring cups, cookie cutters and toy cars
Mix the flour with the baby oil and then add fun objects for your kids to play with.
- What does the sand feel like?
- What does the sand smell like?
- How does this sand feel different from regular sand?
6) Dinosaur Eggs
- 1 1/4 cups Flour
- 1 cup Salt
- 1 1/2 cups Sand
- Plastic dinosaurs or other toys
Help your children mix together the flour, salt and sand. Have them add the water a little at a time until it becomes a dough. Invite them to mold the dough around small plastic dinosaurs (or other toys). Then have your kids form the dough into an egg shape. Instruct them to put wax paper on a cookie sheet and then place the egg shaped dough on the wax paper. Allow the dough to completely dry. This could take a day or two. Invite your children to break open the eggs to reveal the dinosaurs.
- Why was it important to add water to the flour, salt and sand?
- What would have happened if we hadn’t used any sand?
- Why do you think it takes so long for the dough to completely dry?
7) Wave Bottle
- Empty Water Bottle
- Blue Food Coloring (optional)
Give your children an empty water bottle with the label removed. Invite them to fill the bottle half full of water. Let them add blue food coloring if desired. Then have your kids add oil to the bottle so that it almost comes to the top. Help them glue the lid on the bottle. Then invite your children to move the bottle back and forth and watch the waves.
- What do you observe about the oil and water?
- Why do you think the oil and water do not mix?
- Do you think oil would mix with other liquids such as milk or soda?
8) Crystallizing Water Colors
- ½ Tbsp. Epsom Salt
- ½ Tbsp. Hot Water
- Food Coloring
Have your children put the Epsom Salt and the hot water in a glass. Then have them add food coloring to their desired shade. Let them swirl the mixture gently for 2 minutes. This should dissolve most of the salt. If it doesn’t, let them swirl the mixture another minute or two.
Have them use the mixture to paint a fun picture on paper. Set the paper somewhere safe to dry. The thin layers of paint will crystallize in a couple of hours. The painting will be shiny and beautiful!
- What makes the paint so shiny?
- What would happen if we didn’t add the Epsom Salt?
- What would happen if we used cold water instead of hot?
9) Boat Race
- Craft Foam
Invite your children to cut two boats out of craft foam. You might need to do this for your younger children. Put a small amount of water in a pan. Give each of your children a straw and have them blow on the boats to make them sail across the pan. Do this several times.
- Did the same boat always win?
- If not, why?
- Could you blow the boats without the straw?
Fun in the Sun, Sand and Water
Now that you have experienced how much fun summer science experiments can be, make it a goal to try more sun, sand and water activities.
One fun way for your kids to play with sand, dirt and water this summer is to make a mud kitchen. Check out my tutorial on how we made this fun kitchen for our kids. Yes, your kids will get filthy, but the fun and creativity is well worth it!
Tell me about your experiment experiences in the comments below. I would love to hear what you observed or discovered.