6 Critical Thinking Experiments Using Materials in Your Kitchen Pantry

You already know that your child is an experiment pro. It’s common knowledge that your kitchen is just one of his laboratory spaces.

You’ve witnessed his gears churning as he finds multiple purposes for that container you used to believe was just meant to hold the dried oregano. Stacking block? Yes. Foot massager? Of course it is! Telephone? You bet!

Sometimes these critical thinking flashes just happen. But if you really want your little Einstein to soar (and for the more expensive spices to be left in peace), it’s time to sit your kid down for some science-y experiments.

After all, those disease cures aren’t going to find themselves.

All you’ll need are things that are probably already in your kitchen pantry. Some of those things might have wondered if you left them for dead.

That corn syrup you used once and then abandoned, because how dare you feed your child GMO poison? It will be glad to see you.

Before delving into any experiments with your doe-eyed scientist, it’s important to understand how these set-ups provide primo opportunities for critical thinking.

What takes regular old thinking and supercharges it to that coveted label of “critical” are the connections your child makes with prior experiences.

So, as you’re getting things ready, ask your little one to meet the players by smelling, and tasting ingredients. Ask questions like, “What does it look like to you?” and “Does it remind you of anything?”

No need to probe to death here; just give those wheels a nudge.

Experiment #1: The Color Lab

Your child might wonder if you are a wizard after showing them your color-morphing prowess. I wouldn’t deny it.

Mixing Colors in the Kitchen:

  1. Grab some clear drinking glasses (or other transparent containers), food coloring (gel or liquid is fine) and a pitcher of water.
  2. Set up the primaries: designate a container to hold yellow water, red water and blue water. Don’t saturate here; you want to be able to see through the blue, red or yellow liquid.
  3. Get mixing! Use plastic pipettes to dispense each color into experimental containers. If you don’t have pipettes on hand, use droppers or spoons. Just get those colors together!

Critical Thinking Tie-ins—Ask you child why they think colors change when they are mixed together. Give them the opportunity to predict the outcome before you begin a new color pair-up.

Pro Tip—Be prepared for that “why?” question to get turned on you. My preschooler stunned me when he asked, “But why do they have tochange, mom?”

Many an “uh” and “um” punctuated some lame explanation about the color wheel. Have a plan.

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