At this age, Baby is probably curious about everything she sees. Since the world has her attention, now is a great time to start learning simple science concepts like observation, predicting and cause-and-effect. With your help, Baby can start her life off with an appreciation for science and learning.
Starting on the right foot
One easy early experiment is playing with soapy bubbles in the kitchen sink or in the bathtub. You can talk to Baby about the colors, about how bubbles pop, and try to get Baby to hold a bubble gently in her hands. Getting Baby thinking about the bubbles, and the way they’re different from the other substances she sees. You can ask her about the shape of bubbles, or see if she can blow bubbles off of her hand without popping them. This can be a slightly messy experiment, but having a couple of dry towels around will help, and if nothing else, soap and water aren’t going to stain!
A step-up from watching bubbles with Baby is getting her set up to observe how oil impacts milk fat. This proto-experiment can probably be set up on the spot, using ingredients you already have in the kitchen. Start by filling a shallow plate with milk – at least 2%, but cream is best – and putting a couple of drops of food coloring in the center of the plate. Put a drop of dish soap on one end of a cotton swab and touch the swab to the milk and food coloring mixture. Watch as the colors explode out – to Baby’s delight, with any luck. A big discussion on chemistry can wait for another day, but you can talk about how milk feels different from soap and water, as a start.
The magic of chemistry
One more fun basic chemistry experiment is the corrosive effect of vinegar on an egg. Simply place a raw egg in a glass and pour white vinegar all around the egg. Wait at least 24 hours and pull the egg out. The vinegar will have dissolved most of the shell. Depending on the age of the egg, the shell may need little more than a gentle rubbing – you can do this by placing the egg back in the vinegar for a few more hours if the shell is persistent. The still raw but naked egg will be bouncy and gelatinous – perfect for two year old fingers to poke. If you place the naked egg into a glass of water with food coloring and leave it there for some time, the egg will visibly swell, demonstrating the process of osmosis. The food coloring will dye the inside of the still raw egg. Before cutting into the egg, use a flashlight on the naked egg to show the inside of the egg.
Getting her hands dirty
One hands-on activity that will encourage observational skills is having Baby use crayons on a piece of paper and then painting over the coloring with water colors. Again a discussion about how crayons and paint feel different, so they must be made from different materials, is a basic and terrific place to start learning science skills. This particular art project can result in beautiful artwork – be ready to place these on your refrigerator!