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Two girls pouring water into bottles

Little Steamers: A Potion Commotion STEAM Activity

I’m Laura and I teach Little STEAMers classes for children aged 2-5 where we learn about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) with hands-on practical activities.

Teenage girl dressed as scientist

Why is STEAM important in the Early Years?

I love coming up with activities that get young children playing, exploring and learning about STEAM, because that’s how they learn about the world around them. STEAM is the world around them, from gravity making their brick fall to the floor to absorption helping the paper towels soak up their water spillage. 

STEAM learning will continue to be all around them as they pursue their education through school and beyond.  In fact, children who have experience of STEAM learning in the early years have been shown to have a better chance of transitioning into school life with ease along with better confidence and performance there too. 

STEAM in the early years focuses on self-directed play and exploration and so the very best activities get children engaged with and curious about what they’re doing. It might sound a bit daunting at first, but TTS have such a wide range of STEAM resources that it’s easy to bring STEAM learning to your setting any time. 

Below is  simple activity idea you can use to spark children’s engagement with STEAM learning: 

A Potion Commotion

Resources: EY06701 Coloured Plastic Potion Bottles 6pk, EY10361 Messy Maths Potion Bottles 

STEAM Learning: Science: Floating and sinking; Dissolving; Predicting and observing Arts: Colours and colour mixing Maths: Counting; Measuring STEM Skills: Creativity; Applying understanding; Hand-eye coordination 

Making potions is always a favourite activity, but with this Potion Commotion activity you can give potions an extra science twist by clearly structuring predictions and observations. The colourful bottles are much more exciting and playful for children to use – my own children couldn’t wait to play with them. But they also make children’s potions harder to see until after children have made their predictions about what they’ll observe. 

What to do:
  1. Set up a potions station, perhaps on a tuff tray, with various sized spoons and/or measuring cups and a few funnels and pipettes if available. Put out some ingredients in pots or bowls, for example salt, sugar, sand, rice, glitter, chopped up leaves and watered down paint. 
  2. Give each child their own coloured potion bottle to mix their potion in and a second clear container or bottle to view their potion carefully. 
Kitchen utensils including bowls and spoons

3. Children can add two or three ingredients to their potion bottle before shaking it up to give their potion a mix. Make sure they hold the lid in place! 

4. They’ll then pour their potion into their clear container, but should first “predict” what they think they’ll see. For example they might predict they’ll see the sand sink to the bottom or the water change a particular colour or that the salt has disappeared (dissolved). 

5. They can look at (“observe”) their potion in the clear viewing container to see if their prediction was correct. 

6. They could then start a new potion or pour it back into their potions bottle to add more ingredients.  

7. Extend by giving children simple visual recipes to follow to link to literacy, for example 2 spoons sand, 1 drop red paint etc. 

With many thanks to Laura Cross from Little STEAMers for writing this blog for us. 

Laura is a qualified and experienced teacher who now runs Little STEAMers sessions for schools and nurseries. With Little STEAMers, children play, explore and learn about different STEAM subjects with fun and practical activities. 

Loved this article?

If you enjoyed this activity, why not head over to Laura’s other Early Years STEAM activities by following the link below:

Early Years

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