The kitchen is often a child’s first venue for learning about chemistry and physical changes in materials. What happens when we mix certain ingredients? Does it matter how much of each ingredient we use in a recipe? How does the cake batter change in the oven? Try some of these kitchen science explorations at home with your little learners.
Following recipes: Children at this age who have spent time in the kitchen are eager and able to help with much of the preparation. Encourage them to pour, mix and measure when appropriate. This might not seem much like science, but the experience contains many elements of science and mathematics. Although your real goal is to create something that tastes good, recipes are a controlled form of chemistry. Paying close attention to what happens as you add a new ingredient supports the understanding of change. For a related activity, go to Curious Pancakes on the Curious George web site.
Heating: The stove can of course be a dangerous place for children, but try to find a safe place for your child, such as a chair where she has a view. From her perch, she can watch some very interesting moments, such as when you pour that runny raw egg into the pan and watch its consistency and color change, or when you put some pancake batter on a griddle and you notice bubbles where there were none visible previously. You can describe what you see to provide some language for your child, or better yet, encourage her to describe what she sees. Sid the Science Kid’s Applesauce is a related activity that your child will enjoy.
Melting/freezing: So much can be done with ice and freezing! Put an ice cube out on a plate and ask your child what she thinks she will see when it is left out for a while. Discuss this and ask her why she thinks this will happen. Would the same thing happen if the plate was in a different part of the room? Outdoors? What do we think would make the difference? Use a camera to take a photo of the ice cube every 20 minutes or so to document the change.