tot school - the states of matter - age three

This was an awesome week in tot school! Ethan had so much fun learning about the three states of matter -- or "three states of 'Merica," as he keeps saying. Ethan was sick this week so we spent a great deal of time in tot school and every day was a lot of fun. The trays this week were all hands on "experiments" which was a nice treat for poor Ethan who has strep throat and two ear infections! By the end of the week, Ethan really enjoyed identifying everything by a gas, liquid or solid. All in all, a successful (and fun) week!


I saw this activity on Fantastic Fun and Learning and thought it would be a great way to demonstrate a solid -- the lollipops -- turning into a liquid when placed in the water. The challenge of unwrapping each lollipop was also an added bonus for Ethan. He decided to sort his lollipops by color into separate cups of water where he (very impatiently) waited for them to become liquid! After an hour or so, he was running out of hope that they would -- but eventually they did. Once they turned into liquid, he used a medicine dropper to experiment with mixing the colors and flavors to see what he could create. Our plan was to turn these back into solids by freezing the new colors (more like popsicles than lollipops, but still!) but we had a little spill and never got that far. Still, all in all it was a great activity!


This was another classic baking soda and vinegar activity, but luckily we hadn't done this one yet so it was new to Ethan! We filled up a water bottle halfway with our liquid (vinegar) and filled a balloon halfway with baking soda. When Ethan lifted the balloon, the balloon filled up! This liquid to gas activity was his favorite and the reason my house is covered in vinegar, baking soda and balloons.


I put out some water with blue food coloring, a medicine dropper and some different materials and Ethan got to see which materials absorbed liquids. Before trying out the experiment, he made his guesses which ones would absorb the liquid. (He guessed all of them.) After his guesses were made, he used the medicine dropper to drop a few drops of water onto each item. He loved seeing which ones absorbed the water and which ones didn't. He was really into this tray all week and spent a lot of time on this one. I think he liked the medicine dropper and colored water.


For this one, I put out an ice cube tray plus little containers of various things. There was paint, syrup, juice, water, sugar, peanut butter and anything else I could find in the kitchen! Ethan got to guess which of the things would freeze and change into a different state of matter. (He guessed they all would freeze and become solid.) We left the tray in the freezer overnight and the next day, he got to see if his guesses were right. Even though his guesses weren't all correct, he had a lot of fun with this one. He liked seeing the different textures that everything created when frozen, especially the olive oil which turned into something like his diaper cream!


This one was a big chunk of ice, some colored salt, a small container of warm water and a little corn cob skewer (our makeshift ice pick). Ethan eagerly grabbed the last two to the table before I could snap the photo of everything together! For this one, Ethan got to try to turn the solid ice into a liquid. He guessed which would make it happen faster: the ice pick, the warm water or the colored salt. He really enjoyed rubbing the salt into the ice to make it turn colors and watch the pieces dissolve.


This is another one that I remember from school. Ethan helped me pour some whipping cream (which is always a fun mess to clean!) into a baby food jar. Once we placed the lid on, we shook and shook and shook the whipping cream until it turned into butter! Ethan got tired of shaking pretty early on so I got my arm workout in and took over. Eventually, we had some delicious butter which Ethan enjoyed spreading onto some bread.


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  1. This is so awesome! I love all of the ideas you presented and can't wait to start trying these with my kiddo! I'm not great at presenting science activities, but you've given me lots of inspiration!

  2. All I see here is that I need to seriously step my game up, stop sitting around and actually get creative and educational up in this house!!! Geez, those experiments are incredible, i couldn't keep Dylan from inhaling a lollipop if he had one- he can't stay focused like this...yet?

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