Fizzing Rainbows, Magical Milk and Colorful Bubble Snakes: Color Mixing Science

Color mixing is an all-time favorite activity for preschoolers. Simply mixing finger paints or watercolors can be very fun and educational. I have three exciting ways to explore mixing colors, but first, an excellent rainbow resource.

Rainbows

rainbow-1526322-1280x960

Rainbow, by Marion Dane Bauer, is a children’s book about rainbows and gives an age-appropriate explanation of how a rainbow forms. Sometimes it is very difficult to explain scientific information to preschoolers, and I think this book really is on target. I even learned a few things! Have you heard of a “sun smile”, or an upside-down rainbow? I had not, but as soon as I read the words, “sun smile” I had to do some additional research. Apparently, “sun smiles” are not really rainbows because they are created by ice crystals in the upper atmosphere, instead of raindrops. This article has great information and some beautiful pictures of sun smiles!

Fizzing Rainbows

First up were “fizzing rainbows”. I began by simply mixing the primary food colors (red, yellow, and blue) to create the whole rainbow of colors in our test tubes. Only, I did not tell the students that I had used vinegar as the base in each test tube, as opposed to water.

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet

After the students helped me create all of the test tube colors (For example, I asked, “What 2 colors do I mix to make green?”), I placed the primary colored test tubes –  the red, yellow, and blue vinegar solutions – on a tray. The previous night, I had made a mixture of baking soda and water, and froze it in ice cube trays. This way, I had a solid chunk of baking soda that I could plop into the vinegar test tubes to create a chemical reaction and a fizzy rainbow!

Primary colors in vinegar
Primary colors in vinegar
Add baking soda ice cubes
Add baking soda ice cubes
Fizzzzzz...
A chemical reaction – Fizzzzzz…
Fizzy rainbow and color mixing
Fizzy rainbow and swirly color mixing

Magical Milk

To make “magical milk”, simply pour milk in a plate or tray (just enough to cover the bottom of the plate). Then, carefully place drops of food coloring all around the milk in the plate. (Use liquid food coloring here, not gel). Finally, dip a Q-tip in dish soap, and then dip the Q-tip into the center of the plate of milk. The colors swirl and mix together, creating beautiful art in motion. This was my first experience making “magical milk”, and in trying different placement and colors, I was amazed at all of the incredible patterns this fun little experiment can create.

Supplies for magic milk
Supplies for magic milk
Dots of food coloring
Dots of food coloring
Add a Q-tip of dish soap to milk
Add a Q-tip of dish soap to milk
Beautiful magic milk!
Beautiful magic milk (after some additional swirling with the Q-tip)!

So, how does magical milk work? A thorough explanation is here, and my simplified explanation is that the soap is attracted to the fat in milk, which causes the movement.

Colorful Bubble Snakes

Bubble snakes are very easy to make – the only supplies needed are: a plastic bottle (with the bottom cut off), a piece of cloth, a rubber band, and bubble solution (I used this homemade glycerin bubble solution).

Snake Bubble suppiles
Bubble snake supplies

After assembling the bubble blower, dip the cloth in bubble solution and blow through the top of the bottle. A long string of bubbles comes out through the fabric- it is quite fun to watch. (**With younger children, some might not be able to understand the difference in blowing out air versus sucking it in. Use your best judgement on what they are capable of doing!) I added some food coloring directly to the fabric on my bubble blower to make “rainbow” bubble snakes. So easy, simple, and fun.

Complete snake bubble blower
Complete bubble snake blower
Food coloring added to cloth for colorful bubbles
Food coloring added to cloth for colorful bubbles
Colorful bubbles!
Colorful bubbles!
Growing a bubble snake
Growing a bubble snake

 


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