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DIY Lava Lamp
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DIY Lava Lamp

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Home Kid's Corner DIY Lava Lamp

So it’s summer time and we’re doing fun stuff. (Pre)school’s been out for a bit but the kiddo talks about it constantly – we do a lot of imaginary play based around attending school or circle time with him as the teacher. The science experiments his class did in June stuck with him, everything about science catches his attention really, so it’s about time we did some more experiments of our own. DIY lava lamp experiments were floating around the inter-web a couple of months ago so that came to mind when racking my brain for a summer science experiment – out of the heat and into the lab! Below is our take on this fun science experiment craft.

We’ve said it on here more than once, we love doing activities with the kids using items we already have in our home. If the ingredients are multi-use, reusable or recyclable items you can count us in to give it a try. DIY lava lamps fit the bill for that one, or so I thought I had it all until a peek in my pantry revealed I was out of the cooking oil the recipe called for! Not to fear, turns out baby oil replaces nicely and I have a stash of that in my craft cabinet for things like moon sand/cloud dough (a favorite, and long lasting too when kept cool/dry/air-tight, so I have plenty of baby oil left to spare!).

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Ingredients:

  • Empty glass containers
  • Water
  • Baby Oil (the original recipe calls for vegetable oil, but this worked for us)
  • Food color
  • Alkas-seltzer tablets
  • A spoon

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The little scientist donned his protective apron and was ready to experiment! The nice thing about this one is there is no need for exact measurements. He filled the glass container about 1/3 full, added a few drops of food color and stirred it up.

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He then filled most of the rest of the container with baby oil while we talked about what was happening to the liquids.

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I snapped a single alka-seltzer tab into fourths and he proceeded to add in one piece at a time. We talked about what we saw and I have to say the pictures don’t really do it justice, the reaction is pretty cool!

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Since being a teacher is part of my son’s go-to imaginative play we then did the experiment again, with him guiding me in the steps.

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We even got an opportunity to see what would happen if we added too many alka-seltzer tab pieces.

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After the roiling and boiling subsided we set the containers aside to save for when his neighborhood friends were available to stop by after swim lessons so he could recreate the lava flow with them.

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We even saved it until Daddy came home to share the experience with him. Since each time you add the bubbling agent the oil gets murkier and murkier it was pretty cloudy by then. The little scientist still enjoyed the experience of sharing his lava flow knowledge through the murk!

Another use to consider: After the bubbly gasses had all dispersed I took this craft a bit further and sealed a lid onto our lamps. Glass may not be the first choice for use with the little ones, but this can still be used with supervision to spark scientific conversations about separating liquids or waves. Another option is to use the left over lava lamp as calming tool during a time-in experience, so your little one can shake it up and use the bubbles as a timer to get calmed down or use it as a relaxing visual aid.