By Risa Young and Robin Smith

Set up this bubble-blowing extravaganza on a warm, sunny day

Materials:

  • materials for making bubbles, such as straws, pipe cleaners, yarn, sieves, empty juice cans, and toilet paper tubes
  • plastic dishpan
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • solution ingredients: water, liquid detergent, sugar, glycerin, and (optional) food coloring
  • (optional) commercial bubble pipe and solution

Developing Skills:

  • Children will use the science skills of observation, experimentation, prediction, and evaluation, as well as creative-thinking, fine-motor, and language skills.

In Advance: Talk about bubble blowing. If possible, read one of the books listed below. Try sparking children's curiosity by blowing bubbles from a commercial bubble pipe. Notice the colors and sizes of the bubbles. Explain that outside, everyone will get a chance to experiment with blowing bubbles.

ACTIVITY

Gather a few children around a plastic dishpan and make the bubble-blowing solution. Use ¼ cup liquid detergent, ½ cup water, and 1 teaspoon sugar. (You can add a few drops of glycerin to strengthen the bubbles.)

Put out a variety of bubble-blowing objects for children to experiment with. Together, choose a can or tube to blow bubbles with and predict what size bubbles it will make.

Now choose a different size of can or tube, and make new predictions. Give children time to try the bubble-blowing objects themselves. Help them notice that the ones with smaller holes make smaller bubbles and the ones with larger holes make larger bubbles.

MAKING BUBBLE BLOWERS

Here are a few types of bubble blowers children can construct. Use a straw and make slits at one end. Bend the slits back and dip that end in the solution. Ask children to predict the size-and even the number-of bubbles they think this type of blower will make. Ask, "Do you think one bubble or many bubbles will come out?"

Use a paper cup and a straw to make a great pipe. Push the straw through the side of the cup near the bottom. With the cup upside down, place it in the solution. Remove it and blow through the straw (still keeping the cup upside down). You'll find that this type of blower produces very large bubbles.

You can make paper cups, bowls, pie plates, and plastic containers into wonderful multi-bubble blowers. Help children poke holes in the bottoms of the containers and dip them in the solution. Explain that they can either blow on the holes or wave the containers in the air to create bubbles. Ask, "What do you think would happen if you made more holes in your cup?"

Now pass out the pipe cleaners and help children create wands to dip in the solution and wave through the air. Encourage them to change the shape of their wands. After your day of experimenting, talk about which blowers children thought worked the best.

SPIN-OFF: Try this creative movement activity. Invite children to move like bubbles floating through the air, popping into space, and joining other "bubbles" to form one giant bubble!

BOOKS

Beasty Bath* by Robert Neubecker (Scholastic, 2005; $15)

Bubble Trouble by Stephen Krensky (Simon & Schuster, 2004; $4)

Popl A Book About Bubbles by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (HarperCollins, 2001; $6)

* To order, call 800-SCHOLASTIC.