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Think of the most popular people you know…movie stars, presidents, sports heroes, etc.
PEBBLES – Separate the pebbles either by picking them out individually with tweezers or fingers, or by straining them out. IRON FILINGS – The small iron fragments can easily be pulled from the mixture with a magnet.
SALT – Pour the mixture into a container of water and stir well until the salt has had time to dissolve completely.
SAND – Once the other three ingredients have been removed, the (wet) sand will be left behind.
Many science activities rely on taking an accurate measurement of the volume of liquids and solids.
Many of the activities in this blog will require that students find the volume of different substances. When you teach your children about acids and bases and the pH scale, have them explore the pH of different soaps in your house. For thick liquid soaps, powders, or bar soap, mix with a little distilled water so that the test strips can absorb the chemicals.
Crystal growing is a fun activity for kids and it is relevant to several areas of science, such as chemistry, as well as mineral formation in geology. Aluminum potassium sulfate (alum) can be purchased in the spices area of the grocery store. Calcium chloride can be purchased at home improvement stores and stores that sell chemicals for swimming pools. Magnesium sulfate (epsom salts) can be purchased at a drug store or the pharmacy section of the grocery store. A cake or cupcakes are probably the best desserts to use to clearly show a chemical change. If your child has already learned about the parts of an atom (proton, neutron, and electron) they can understand the basics of the periodic table. Finally, in a neutral atom the number of electrons is always the same as the number of protons. Continue using the periodic table to make clues as long as the game holds the student’s interest. For older children, make a list of the test solutions and their actual pH collected from the internet. 5 Place the filter upside down into the pie plate so that the outer edges are in the water. Email us to get an instant 20% discount on highly effective K-12 Math & English kwizNET Programs! Explain the scientific definition of a mixture and give your child a sample of each of the individual substances in the mixture. Ask your child to brainstorm how the physical properties of the substances could be used to separate each from the mixture. Emphasis that your child has proven that the original material was a mixture because the individual parts were separated by physical means. Below you’ll find a reference for how to measure the volume of different types of matter. To use the water displacement method you will need a container that will hold the object to be measured, and that is marked in metric units, preferably milliliters. Insert the object to be measured, being careful not to let it “plop” in and splash water out! Because 1 milliliter of water = 1 cubic centimeter of water, you can assume that the volume of water displaced in milliliters is the same as the volume of the solid object in cubic centimeters. But, the cleansing effect of soap is due, in part, to the fact that it is a basic substance. You can buy these anywhere swimming pool or pond chemicals are sold, but they are usually fairly expensive.

A universal test strip tests a wide range of pH values and so will have less of a color change between similar pH values.
Use homemade invisible ink to write secret notes, then teach your child the science behind the process used to reveal the hidden messages. To use one of the safest methods, just use a Q-tip to write or draw on white paper with lemon juice. Whether or not your child can do this by themselves depends on the age of the child and the method used. Direct sunlight on a very hot day will sometimes be enough heat to bring out the hidden message.
I have heard that a very hot blow dryer will reveal the message, but I’ve never had any luck with this method. Schools often use commercial chemicals to grow crystals in the classroom, and these chemicals can be difficult, if not impossible, to purchase as an individual.
There are quite a few recipes on the internet for making rock candy, and it is a favorite to make.
It’s best to start with distilled water, which can be purchased by the gallon at the grocery. The paper turns to ask and becomes a new substance, much different from the original paper.
Older children can make a written list of the physical properties (characteristics) of each of the ingredients. The more they become familiar with the periodic table now, the less intimidating it will be in upper level science classes!
When added to different household substances, it turns a wide range of colors, which children love! Have your child create a color scale that can be used to determine the pH of an unknown substance.
The easiest way to show this process to children is by using chromatography to separate inks. Using washable markers, put small dots of different colors around the outside of the filter, about ? to 1 inch from the outside edge. Challenge your student to design a method to separate a mixture into its separate components.
After you have collected the iron filings on the outside of the bag, pull the magnet away from the plastic and the filings will be released. To demonstrate that the procedure worked, evaporate the water to reveal the salt left behind. Activities in this blog that require students to measure volume will include a link back to this page for reference. Unless you want them right away, you can order universal pH paper strips here for a very reasonable price. Discuss the relationship between the pH of different types of soaps and their intended use.
A more narrow range test strip will show a bigger color range between similar pH values, but will show no results outside of the range of the pH paper. Actually, any fruit juice that contains citric acid will work, but lemon juice tends to dry the clearest, keeping the message hidden until revealed. This is a slow method, requiring patience, as the candle can easily scorch the paper if brought too close.
Gives you a quick reveal but for safety, this needs to be done under direct parent supervision. Purchasing a more expensive brand will often grow better crystals, but alum is fairly expensive. Let the undissolved chemicals settle to the bottom of the original container and don’t transfer the last bit of solution.
Point out that even though they may look different, the ingredients are all still there and haven’t changed into anything else.

Waterproof inks in permanent markers and ball point pens require a chemical solvent, but the ink in washable markers can be separated with water, making for an easy and safe experiment. The base of your mixture should be sand, then add the other substances in slightly smaller quantities. You can also lead them to experiment with the individual substances by seeing which will dissolve in water and which are attracted to a magnet, etc.
But be sure these harsher products are tested under adult supervision since ammonia products can be harmful if they get in the eyes or are swallowed.
The shipping is a flat rate so you might want to join with other homeschool families to put in one order together, or look around for other science supplies you might need in the future.
Use this as an opportunity to teach your children about estimating between two known values. So, if you buy narrow range test strips, be sure they are within the range you want to test.
This chemical makes very large, beautiful blue crystals and is a favorite for crystal growing. In order to make a supersaturated solution, the water needs to be very hot and you have to dissolve as much of the chemical as possible.
Finally, suspend a string into the crystal growing solution to give your crystals something to grow around, and leave undisturbed.
Even if you’re only adding eggs, oil, and water to a cake mix, students can still observe the chemical changes. Just subtract the number of protons from the rounded atomic number and you will have the average number of neutrons in one atom of the element. For example, if you are testing soaps you will need to use pH test strips that test for a pH range above 7.
Cellulose is a tough, fibrous molecule made of many, many glucose (sugar) molecules connected in long chains. But, do be careful with storage of the crystals as the chemical is poisonous and it can be mistaken for candy by young children! Depending on the chemical used, crystals usually begin to form within hours, but may take several days to grow larger. Remember, many candies are made to look like crystals and small children may not be able to tell the difference. Spend some quality time with your child, make dessert, and teach science all at the same time! Do those products have a different pH from other similar products that don’t make that claim? The acid in the lemon juice naturally breaks down the cellulose, separating the individual glucose molecules, which is a chemical reaction. When you finally reach the point where no more chemical will dissolve, pour the hot solution into the container you’ll use to grow the crystals.
Point out that one evidence of a chemical change is that you come out with a completely new substance that doesn’t look anything like the original.
You’ll find few examples of element clues at the end of this post to get you started. Heat makes that process work even faster, as raising the temperature almost always increases the rate of a chemical reaction. For example, is there a difference between the pH of a name brand bath soap and a cheaper store brand? But, if you live in an area with hard water, it’s worth the cost to buy some distilled water for this activity.

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