We know: science experiments can be messy, but they don’t have to be elaborate to capture your child’s interest. If you can find a way to make them happen from time to time, it will be well worth it. Your toddler will love learning how things transform, change color, and mix together.
Your toddler is all about doing things on their own these days. They want to hold ice in their hand as long as possible, feel shaving cream squish through their fingers, and watch as a powder dissolves into liquid when they stir it.
If the weather is warm, you can strip your little scientist down to their diaper—perhaps a swim diaper—and set them up in a shady spot outside (always supervised). Then they can explore to their heart’s content… and maybe spend a little time playing with the hose before they come back inside 😁.
Here are some light-prep science activities for toddlers:
Mixtures and Solutions
- Have your toddler pour some drink powder into a cup or pitcher of water. Next, give them a spoon or chopstick to mix it with.
- Put drops of food coloring into water, watch it sink and spread, then have your toddler stir.
- Pour the buttons from the Mosaic Button Board into a wide bowl or tub of water. Give your toddler a small sieve or strainer (the kind with a long handle, like this one) and have them fish out the buttons. Talk about how the buttons stay in the sieve while the water pours out of the holes.
Melting ice cubes
- Ice is endlessly fascinating to a toddler. They will love transferring it into a tub of water with a slotted spoon. Invite them to feel the ice and notice its properties: what is its temperature? Does it change over time? If you want to try this inside, put a few layers of towels down on the floor first.
- Put a dollop of whipping cream or shaving cream on a wide plate or tray.
- Add a drop or two of food coloring and let them mix with a spoon, a stick, or their hands.
- Fill a wide, shallow tray with a layer of baking soda. Pour white vinegar into a few small bowls and color each with a different food coloring (three different colors is plenty). Using a dropper, demonstrate for your toddler what happens when you drip some of the colored vinegar onto the tray of baking soda. Your toddler may need you to fill up the dropper each time before they try dripping their own colors onto the tray.