Challenge the children to blow as many bubbles as they can with a beaker of solution and a straw.
Early Learning Goal links
Mathematics ELG: Numerical Patterns – Compare quantities up to 10 in different contexts, recognising when one quantity is greater than, less than or the same as the other quantity;
Understanding the World ELG: Past and Present – Talk about the lives of the people around them and their roles in society;
Understanding the World ELG: The Natural World – Understand some important processes and changes in the natural world around them, including the seasons and changing states of matter.
Expressive Arts and Design ELG: Creating with Materials
– Safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function;
– Share their creations, explaining the process they have used;
STEM vocabulary to introduce
Liquid, mixture, solution, gas, air, blow, hard, soft, large, small, shapes, colours, round, sphere, burst, surface, inside, outside, more, less
What to do – make your bubble solution
This solution is really quick and easy – you need to mix a quarter washing up liquid to three quarters water. You can fill the beaker or cup almost up to the top: the more solution you have, the longer the activity lasts or the more people can have a turn. If you want, you can add food colouring or a squirt of paint to the solution. You get different effects depending on whether you stir or not.
What to do – blowing bubbles
Put your trays and beakers of solution out for the children and give each child a straw each. Tell the children they are going to be curious like fluid scientists and observe what happens when they blow into the straw. You could display the fluid scientist poster and use our blowing bubbles with a straw provocation.
Challenge the children to blow as many bubbles as they can with their liquid. You may want to use our blowing bubbles with a straw provocation.
Remind the children they must always blow, not suck up the liquid, and to keep the same end of the straw in their mouths all of the time!
If the children get soapy water in their mouths, they should rinse their mouths out with clean water – and spit it out. Make sure they don’t swallow the water. It will not taste nice.
Questions to ask to support and extend learning
- How many bubbles can you blow?
- What are the bubbles made from?
- What is inside them? What is on the outside?
- Who has most bubbles?
- Who has least?
- What happens if you blow harder/softer?
- What colour are your bubbles?
- What shape are your bubbles?
- Where are the bubbles going when you are blowing them?
- Why aren’t they floating away?
- What will happen if we add another colour to the solution?
Other things to try
You could make some prints using your bubbles. This works best if you add poster paint to your solution. All colours and brands mix differently, so getting the perfect solution requires some experimentation. A squirt or two seems to work for most paints.
When you have bubbles overflowing from the beaker, put a piece of paper on top of the beaker and press down. More absorbent paper such as sugar paper works better than copier paper.
You could try blowing bubbles using different coloured paints and printing them on the same page.
Remember to refer to the children as fluid scientists and praise them for using the attributes. You could say things like:
“You have been curious like a fluid scientist and discovered what happened when you blew into the solution with a straw…”
The science of blowing bubbles
We have put together some useful information about the science of bubbles to accompany this activity. Don’t worry, this is for your information only and to help you answer any questions children may have. We don’t expect you to explain this to the children in your setting!
How do you make bubbles?
Mixing washing-up liquid with water forms a solution. When you blow a bubble, air is trapped by a thin film of your bubble mixture. This film is made of a layer of water sandwiched between two layers of soap.
Why are the bubbles round/sphere shaped?
A bubble takes up the smallest surface area for the volume of air it contains, and a sphere shape has the smallest surface area for the volume of air contained.
Why do bubbles all join together?
As bubbles form the smallest possible shape for the volume of air they contain, to minimise their surface area, bubbles will join together to share one common wall. Three bubbles will meet at the centre, at an angle of 120 degrees, and bubbles that are all the same size will form hexagons. This is also the shape bees create with their wax inside hives.
Why do the bubbles burst?
A bubble pops if the soapy outer skin is broken. This can happen as the water in the bubble evaporates, or if the bubble touches something dry or oily. It can also happen when the bubble becomes too big and there isn’t any more soap to create the sandwich layer. This happens if you blow too hard and force too much air into the bubble solution!
How do I blow bigger bubbles?
By blowing gently into the bubble solution you can stretch the bubble solution slowly, forcing more air into the bubble before the pressure causes it to pop.
What you’ll need
- Washing up liquid
- A beaker of each child in the group
- A straw for each child in the class
- A tough spot, tray or plastic plates
- Food colouring or poster paint (optional)
- Blowing bubbles with a straw provocation
- The fluid scientist poster
5 – 10 minutesfluid scientist poster