Friday, July 3, 2009

Baking Soda and Vinegar with Threes

Droppers Galore

With threes I do a similar setup as I do for the twos, namely on trays.  But instead of squeeze bottles I provide several types of droppers and syringes.  We’re working on our fine motor control as well as investigating how fluids work in addition to our chemistry when we do it this way.  I usually set it out with the droppers and syringes filled so that there’s some instant gratification that encourages the kids to try the droppers and syringes themselves.  Otherwise they sometimes get discouraged before they get success.  Doing it once is usually enough to keep them trying until they get it.

While we’re here, do YOU know how a dropper or a syringe works?  What’s the principle behind it?  Well, I’ll tell you.  It’s a vacuum!  That’s right, you’ve got a little bit of nothing in that dropper when you squeeze out all the air and then put it in the liquid.  When you release the dropper head the liquid fills the vacuum.  For the syringe, you create the vacuum and fill it when you pull up on the plunger.

I put my droppers in a set of watercolor paint cups, but you could just as easily use small cups.  The tricky thing with this setup is refilling the wee cups.  Get yourself a small pitcher and prefill it with the vinegar to make it easy.  But be forewarned: if you put the pitcher in reach of the children you will have helpers!  I’m all in favor of letting kids do the pouring if we’re outside, but our custodian takes issue with saturating the carpet with anything he didn’t do himself so I do the refilling myself when we’re inside.  And yes, I’ve tried to do this with something on the floor to catch the overflow and I’m sure you know how well that worked out if you’ve tried it yourself!  Anyway, I will let the children help me add watercolor to the vinegar, inside or outside.

Trays and Droppers Ready for Work

Threes also enjoy doing this activity in the sensory table.  If you really trust your threes, try putting the vinegar in spray bottles!

Need a refresher on the chemical reaction itself?  Baking soda + vinegar = water + carbon dioxide + sodium acetate (more or less).


  1. This looks like so much fun and I bet the kids love it. I am going to have to try something like this. Thanks.