Mealtime at our house is a full sensory experience. My kids don't just eat their food; actually, they rarely eat their food. Instead they feel it, taste it, chew it, spit it out, feel that stuff, smell it, smear it, dip it, mix it and smash it.
This morning, Danny began dipping his french fries in ketchup and then in his water.
He asked, "What's dissolve?"
"Well, that's when a substance melts or disappears in the water."
He looked at the bits of ketchup in his cup, stirred it up a bit and said, "It's not dissolving."
I told him that some things dissolve quicker than other things and other things don't dissolve at all in water. He started rattling off items from the kitchen such as salt, butter and sugar. He wanted to dissolve more things in water. I failed to convince him that it was not a good time since Owen was still awake.
So I brought out some nutmeg, salt, sugar, olive oil in a Misto, butter, corn starch, oatmeal (this one was his idea) and a bunch of clear plastic containers. He kept running into the house to refill his cup with water to test the collection of items I'd brought out. I even brought out some warmer water to better dissolve the sugar and salt.
We talked about how oil and water don't mix and how salt and sugar dissolve better in warm water than cold. He noticed that the corn starch dissolved and turned the water white.
Later this afternoon, Danny asked to do water experiments again. The lesson expanded as we talked about why some of the items float on top of the water and others sink. I told him that items sink when they are heavier than the water and float if they are lighter than the water. Each time he added something new from the spice basket I brought out, we watched what it did and I asked if it was lighter or heavier than the water. We also observed how liquids such as corn syrup, molasses and food dye behave in water. (Like a tornado, according to Danny, who observed the swirly patterns each substance made in the water. I explained diffusion to him.)
He had a blast and the activity was driven by his interest. I couldn't have planned it any better. But I still did an Internet search to gather more ideas on water experiments. My kids just can't get enough of water play and it's good to have some ideas. (You'd think my kids would be cleaner for all their interest in water, but they just aren't.)
Of course, our first water experiment on the screen porch ended when Fiona got involved and a bowl full of water, oatmeal and God knows what else spilled all over the deck and their half-eaten lunches. Ah, well.
Next lesson? How to be a janitor.