A couple of months ago, I started thinking hard about setting up a mini science lab at home. I knew that it must be at the corridor if I wanted to allow the boys the freedom of playing scientist whenever they felt like doing so, instead of waiting for me to set up or waiting for me to be free to ‘catch’ the mess. Because I also knew that it would be pretty impossible for me to agree to spontaneous requests when I was usually rushing around like a headless chicken -.-”
So, I bought a foldable table. It’s supposed to be a picnic table, so it can withstand some outdoor abuse, like the monthly block wash or other liquid spillages. Initially, my idea was to leave all the ‘chemicals’ out at the corridor, but I did not want the boys to start playing with them without permission if they were out at the corridor playing with sand or mud or water.
Finally, I decided to prepare everything and keep them all in a tray, so that I would be ready whenever the boys asked to ‘be scientist’.
(But actually, it’s not really ‘whenever’. Kor Kor has two slots a day for such activities, i.e. when he’s not busy with lessons or chores and I am free to assist/prepare/clean up.)
Most of our ‘chemicals’ are from the kitchen. Took me a while to think of a variety of ingredients! The essentials are definitely baking soda and vinegar. Other ingredients seldom give much visible reactions other than the physical ones like dissolving or changing colours. And so many flours all look the same.. all white and powdery.. quite boring.. So, what’s in our DIY Chemistry Kit?
- baking soda
- rock salt
- effervescent vitamin
- dishwashing detergent
- tap water
- tap water with various food colouring
- test tubes (glass for Kor Kor, from Artfriend. Plastic for Didi, from Learning Store)
- test tube racks
- straws (as stirrers)
- disposable droppers (but I reuse unless it’s too dirty)
- glass droppers
- glass beakers
- various plastic & glass containers (some storebought, some recycled)
I also bought a microscope recently. But I find that it takes intentional effort to prepare minuscule amount of tiny stuff to look at through the microscope. Furthermore the view isn’t exactly exciting 😛 Thus, for preschoolers, I recommend using magnifying glasses instead, which the child can grab anytime to look at anything that catches his fancy.
I know that the younger ones will want to do whatever Kor Kor is doing, so it took me some braincracking thinking to free up the time slots. Very limited if Kor Kor can only do it during the younger ones’ naps. So, ta-ta! Meimei gets her own science kit! Just mixing of colours for now, and she’s happy!