Oh em geeeee. Best summer activity: the outdoor potions station.
I will never sugar coat things or blow smoke… this activity is messy and it is fantastic. I mean, really, really messy. But I also mean really, really fantastic.
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Outdoor potions is a summertime HERO
We do this activity all the time. I’m considering buying stock in these companies for next summer and for sure buying products in bulk.
Oh my stars, do my kids ever just love making potions (they learned about potions from Friends Art Lab!).
BUT WHO DOESN’T?
Were you a potion making kid? I was…
Kids love open-ended experimenting
Open-ended experimenting is the cornerstone of childhood science exploration. This may look like a giant mess, but it is serious and significant learning for kids.
Potions represent the heart of science for kids:
- Problem solving/critical thinking
I know it’s a mess, but potion making for kids is WHERE IT’S AT.
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Here’s what I put into our outdoor potion station
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- Dish soap / washing up liquid / fairy soap
- Baking soda / bi-carb
- White vinegar
- Shaving cream
- Measuring cups
- Peri bottles (yup, those are the best!)
- Syringes ( OR use the old ones from kid-medicine)
- Plastic jars with lids (I LOVE these and we use them A LOT)
There’s no rhyme or reason for how much of each substance to have. Just make sure to have a bit of everything, scoops, bottles, containers, etc. The kids need room to play.
I typically add some vinegar to the peri or squirt bottles (along with some food dye for coloring) and put the rest of the materials in little bowls for kids to scoop out what they need.
I also provide lots of additional empty containers so the kids have room to build their potions and experiment.
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There is no expected outcome to science potions
The goal is to allow the kids to work freely and create as they wish. They will develop story lines. They will explore the process of experiments. They will come up with ratios.
This activity is built on:
- Trial and error
- Open exploration
Please do not over think this activity. Provide materials. Provide empty containers/bowls. Provide utensils/tools. Again, kids will just “know” what to do.
So, wait, there aren’t actual “directions?”
There aren’t any, and that’s a hard concept for a lot of adults.
The goal here is to give the kids materials and let them decide what to do. They can add it to jars, bowls, use spoons, scoop, shake, squirt… THIS IS ABOUT THE KIDS.
Often as adults we get very hung up on the specific “recipe” or “how to” of a project. That’s not how this activity works.
In this activity, you provide materials and let the children go from there. While you (the adult) may not fully grasp what to do, upon seeing this materials: kids instantly do.
Let’s talk about the mess this makes
Yes, this makes a mess.
Before you start this an activity, take a moment, and pause a second. How are you going to clean this up? What clean up supplies do you need handy to make it happen at the end?
Here’s what I did:
I had towels near my kids. Some were wet, some were dry. You can even catch a glimpse of them in the background of some of these photos (wink).
I also know from years of doing activities that baking soda, vinegar, and dawn – they kill grass. So I put all the containers into my sink to clean and then I tipped the contents of this table into a bucket to carry into my house.
This worked for me. It was fine – not my favorite clean up but it’s worth it every time. Plus, I’m down to a science on this because we do it so often (pun totally intended).
Friends, I can’t recommend outdoor potions enough
It’s an all time activity. It’s an all ages activity. Once a kiddo isn’t going to eat it or get it in their eyes, this activity is life.
Have some fun this summer with outdoor potions – it is truly the greatest.
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