Saturday, November 21, 2009

making waves

Every once in awhile I decide that I haven't nearly enough cleaning to do and put together a project for the kids. This week I decided that we would turn some 20 oz. soda bottles into wavemakers. This is the first time we have done this particular project. While it turned out well enough, we did learn a few lessons.

Recommended Supplies
beverage bottles (any size will do)
an oil (we used vegetable oil; I would recommend baby oil)
glitter, sequins, googly eyes, and other water-resistant craft items
food coloring
some sort of glue (rubber cement worked well)
funnels and various measuring devices

Directions: Rinse the bottles thoroughly and peel off the labels. Using the funnels for younger children, pour various kinds of craft supplies into the bottle.

Optional step: remember that you should have brought the hand vacuum up from the basement.

Using the funnels and other various measuring devices, pour water into the bottles. I suppose you could just fill it up at the sink but that takes some of the fun out of it for the kids. I used this as a motor skills developer for Zander and an impromptu fractions lesson for Sam and Jake. It wasn't too messy. Well, okay. Nothing that a couple of towels couldn't handle!

After filling the bottles up with the desired amount of water, use the funnel to pour in the oil. Now, the ratio of water to oil is totally up to you. We did about three parts water to one part oil (the picture is a poor example of that) but I was running a little low on the vegetable oil.

Just as a side note, I poured the oil. I'm all for letting the kids make messes but that just seemed like asking for it. The next time we make this I am going to try half water, half baby oil. I think it will make for a more interesting consistency. Plus...doesn't that look a little gross? Sam thinks it looks like snot. I think he may have a point.

After you get your oil and water mix into the bottles, add some food coloring. We put six drops into each bottle and that seemed like a great amount for the 20 oz bottles. Sam and Jake learned a valuable lesson: green bottles are not the way to go if you want to see your color well. Also, listen to mom when she tries to guide your decisions. Okay, we'll probably have to continue to work on that last one. I'm pretty sure the first one stuck though.

Final Step: Coat the cap with glue and screw on as tightly as possible. Attempt to keep the children from playing with projects until the caps are thoroughly dry.

Zander really enjoyed this project. I was concerned that it might be a little too "old" for him but he did really well. He loved watching the red and yellow food dye make orange. The whole event was a big hit with the three-year-old.

Jake also seemed to enjoy this project. He liked picking out the items to put into the bottle, watching the oil "dance" with the water, and seeing Zander's project change color. Like I said, we used this to help talk about fractions (you need three 1/3 cups to get 1 cup, etc...). This project got a definite thumb's up from the eight-year-old.

We actually put these projects together in several different orders. (We made four in total.) We put the water in first in most, but the oil in first in others. We mixed the food coloring in at different steps each time. Sam was able to see how the order affected the project in the short term and the long term. The younger kids didn't care about that part but Sam seemed to enjoy it. I'm not sure if all 12-year-old children would enjoy this project, but ours did.

Final result: All in all this seemed like a popular activity. It's hard for us to find a one-size-fits-all project for kids who have such varying ages. I think that may be the best thing about this project! I think we'll probably repeat this activity again.

Now...what am I forgetting? Oh yeah!

After project is complete, thoroughly clean the destroyed kitchen area. Note for future attempts: perhaps we should come up with an age-friendly activity for the one-year-old as well!


  1. Looks like a blast! Hope your writing is rockin'!

  2. That sounds awesome and I'm very jealous to not be able to play!



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