I’ve had making an ‘Alien Land’ on my to do list now for a couple of weeks at the request of my gorgeous boy! So, today I was all set to make it when one of our neighbours gave J a squirt water gun. If I am being 100% honest, a pet hate of mine is children playing with guns! Whenever I was teaching, I would always stop children from make believe ‘shooting’ as these days, it’s all too real life and it scares me! However, once J had seen the squirt water gun or the ‘laser beam’ as we renamed it, he was DESPERATE to play with it! I really didn’t want him pretending to shoot people/dogs or anything so I altered the ‘Alien Land’ into something a little different! Alien Mission: Save the Colours. If,like me, you don’t like gun play, then replace the water gun with a syringe, dropper, water sprayer or any other squirt tools!
For this fab activity, you will need:
- Bicarbonate of soda
- Food colouring
- Aquarium gravel (not essential)
- Alien toys
- Pots (not essential)
- Builder’s tray (or something similar)
- Some kind of ‘squirter’ tool e.g. water gun, water sprayer, syringe, dropper etc
First, you will need to put a few drops of food colouring in a pot (I used food colouring gel as they were card pots but if you’re using plastic, liquid is fine). Next, cover the food colouring with a generous amount of Bicarbonate of Soda.
I put the builder’s tray out on the grass and emptied the aquarium gravel onto it to act as the alien land landscape. I then placed the pots in various positions and put the two aliens on the ‘alien land.’ Finally, I filled the now called ‘Laser beam’ full of vinegar.
Before J was allowed to see what I’d made, I told him the following story: I needed an astronaut to help me save the earth. Two evil aliens had come to earth and stolen all the colour. They were very selfish aliens, and wanted all the colour for their planet. They already had bright pink but they wanted lots of colours. They were the lead aliens on their planet and they had hidden the earth’s colours in secret bunkers and used tiny white moon sand to hide the colour. The only thing that could release the colour back to earth was the special laser beam. J was EXCITED to say the least. He couldn’t wait and he was about to have a real surprise! I was excited too!
Unfortunately, the mission did not get off the the start I had expected! J couldn’t aim the nozzle of the ‘laser beam’ accurately enough for the reaction to happen in the pot! I was so sad! I asked him to let me show him how to do it as I wanted the chemical reaction of the bicarb and vinegar fizzing and bubbling to erupt over the little pot but he wouldn’t let me near the pots! He was VERY protective of his laser beam! In fact a full blown ‘threenage’ tantrum was about to begin and frankly, I did NOT have the energy! So, I had to adapt the activity to suit J. At least J would be able to discover the reaction himself! (If any of you manage to create the eruption in the pot, please send me the photo’s!) I will be doing this again with syringes so that J can experience it too but it wasn’t meant to be today! Anyway, back to what DID happen…
To adapt the activity to suit J, I emptied the contents of the pots in to little mounds! Still worked well and J LOVED what happened!
The chemical reaction of the bicarbonate of soda and the vinegar is due to the acid in the vinegar reacting with the sodium in the bicarb. It creates fizzing and bubbling and is uber exciting for toddlers and young children to watch! You will have probably seen this in the very common ‘volcano projects’ where there is an eruption! This is created using the same thing. The first colour J saved was red and he cheered when he ‘released the red back to earth!’
The one good thing about the laser beam was the hand work out it gave J to squeeze the trigger!
The great thing about this reaction, is the foam/fizzing just gets bigger and bigger the more vinegar you squeeze on it! J couldn’t stop giggling! Just imagine how good it would have looked coming over the pots!! Hey ho! Always next time! Daddy needed to come out just to check up on what J was doing! He got a squirt of the laser beam! Favouritism! Humph!
Once J had rescued the colours and saved the earth from a future of black and white, it was his job to clean up! He got to use the hose and absolutely had a ball cleaning up! Now that the ‘landscape’ is free of vinegar, we will use the aquarium stones to create our Alien Land as initially planned! Maybe not today! Maybe not tomorrow… but some day soon!
What did J learn?
- About chemical reactions
- New language and vocabulary
- Fine motor development
- Recognition of colours
- Counting how many colours he had saved so far