"I'm bored, Mom and Dad." You know the drill. The winter months can stretch interminably when children are stuck indoors, seemingly with nothing to do. When it's too cold to go outdoors, why not bring the snow inside instead? Winter offers some prime opportunities to explore science concepts. Try these simple science experiments to banish boredom and build your little scientist's skills of inquiry and observation.
Snow & Science Ideas for Kids
- Bring a bowl of snow indoors. Fill spray bottles with water and food coloring. Spray the snow with the colored water to make a rainbow effect or to demonstrate what happens when you combine colors. Make orange by mixing yellow and red, or green by mixing blue and yellow.
- Explore the properties of matter - solids, liquids, and gases - with your child. Place a bowl of snow or ice in a warm place such as on top of a heating vent to watch it become water. Heat a teapot filled with water until steam emerges.
- Observe snowflakes up close. Place a piece of black or dark blue construction paper on a baking sheet. Set the sheet outdoors during a snow storm to allow a few snowflakes to fall on the paper. Bring the baking sheet indoors and examine the snowflakes with a magnifying glass. Are they the same? What differences do you notice?
- Observe animal tracks and footprints in the snow. Can you identify the animals? Who do you think made the footprints based on their size - an adult or a child?
- Notice differences in snow throughout the winter. Sometimes snow is heavy and wet, perfect for building snowmen or snow forts. At other times, the snow is dry and fluffy. Why is the snow different?
- Point out seasonal changes. During the winter, the sun sets earlier than in the summer and the sun sits lower in the sky. As winter ebbs into spring, the days become longer.
Young children relish learning about science through nature explorations. Learn even more through books and websites that offer visual explanations of scientific ideas. For example, the U.S. Department of the Interior offers a simple visual of the water cycle to help children understand why rain and snow occur.
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