Challenge the children to investigate different shaped bubble wands to see which shape bubbles they can blow.
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, wind, move, rise, float, sink, up, down, across, left, right, large, small, shape, round, sphere, burst, surface, inside, outside, more, less
What to do – how to make bubble solution
Fill your bucket or container with 6 l of water.
Sieve a small amount (less than 1/4 tea spoon) of guar gum onto the top of the water. Whisk into the water.
Repeat this step until all of the guar gum is whisked into the water. You need to do this a little at a time or it will form lumps.
Sieve the bicarbonate of soda or baking powder into the water and whisk. This can be all in one go.
Pour in 300 ml of washing up liquid and stir gently with a spoon.
What to do
Put your bubble wands and bucket or container of solution out for the children. Tell the children they are going to be curious like fluid scientists and observe what happens when they blow into the straw. The will need to be resilient if they can’t blow a bubble at first, and keep trying until they can. You could display the fluid scientist poster and use our blowing bubbles provocation.
Challenge the children to create as many different shapes with the different bubble wands as they can. You could use our blowing bubbles provocation.
It is worth modelling dipping bubble wands into solution and pulling them out without vigorous swishing. Children love to do this, and it quickly results in a bucket full of unusable froth!
Questions to ask to support and extend learning
- Which shaped wand have you chosen?
- Which shaped bubble do you think you will blow?
- Which shape did you blow?
- Can you try another shaped bubble wand?
- Which shape did you blow this time?
- Does the star shaped bubbled wand make star shaped bubbles?
- Can you choose a bubble wand that you think will make big/small bubbles?
- Why did you choose that one?
- What are the bubbles made from?
- What is inside them? What is on the outside?
- Which wand makes the most bubbles?
- Which wand makes the least bubbles?
Other things to try
Challenge the children to make their own bubble wands from pipe cleaners or modelling wire and test them to see which shaped bubbles they create. You could use our bubble wands provocation.
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 by investigating different shaped bubble wands…”
“Well done, you observed which shaped bubbles you created…”
The science of blowing bubbles
We have put together some useful information about the science of blowing 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!
Why are bubbles always spheres?
Mixing washing-up liquid with water forms a solution. When you dip your wand into the solution, a flat film made of a layer of water sandwiched between two layers of soap is formed across the bubble wand. This flat surface has the smallest surface area and no volume of air.
When you start blowing air in that soapy film, the liquid soapy skin starts to stretch and air is trapped by a thin film of the bubble solution. This creates a surface tension or tightness in the bubble skin, and it tries to shrink the bubble into a shape with the smallest surface area for the volume of air inside it – which is always a sphere.
How do you blow big or small bubbles?
If you use a big bubble wand, the surface area and volume of the soapy film covering your bubble wand is greater than using a small bubble wand where the surface area and volume of bubble solution is less. The more bubble solution you start with, the larger the bubble you can blow.
What you’ll need
- 6 l water
- 300 ml washing up liquid (Fairy ALWAYS works)
- 24 g guar gum (available on internet)
- 15 g baking powder or bicarbonate of soda
- A bucket or similar container to mix and store the mixture
- A sieve
- A whisk – electric is best
- Large spoon- wooden or metal
- Bubble wands
- Blowing bubbles provocation
- The fluid scientist poster
10 minutes or so.fluid scientist poster