Challenge the children to create a bubble snake with these bubble socks.
Early Learning Goal links
- Mathematics ELG: Numerical Patterns
- Understanding the World ELG: Past and Present
- Understanding the World ELG: People, Culture and Communities
- Understanding the World ELG: The Natural World
- Expressive Arts and Design ELG: Creating with Materials
STEM vocabulary to introduce
Liquid, mixture, solution, gas, air, blow, hard, soft, large, small, shapes, colours, round, sphere, burst, surface, inside, outside, longer, shorter, more, less
What to do – preparing the bubble socks
Use your sharp scissors to cut the bottom off the bottle and the toes off your sock, just below the heel. You don’t have to cut the sock, but it makes them easier to use.
Pull the sock over the bottom of the bottle so that the toes are tight over the hole. Secure the sock using an elastic band. Depending on the ability of your children, you could get them to do this.
What to do – making the bubble solution
This is an easy mixture of one quarter washing up liquid to three quarters water. A litre of liquid will be enough for 30 children to explore with.
What to do – blowing the bubbles
Tell the children they are going to be curious like fluid scientists and observe what happens when they blow into the bottle. You could display the fluid scientist poster and use our bubble sock provocation. Ask the children to dip the sock into the bubble solution and blow into the top of the bottle. Challenge the children to keep blowing to make a longer snake.
Questions to ask to support and extend learning
- Where are the bubbles coming from?
- What are the bubbles made from?
- What is inside them? What is on the outside?
- How long is your snake?
- Who has made the longest snake?
- Who has the shortest snake?
- Who has the most bubbles?
- Who has the least bubbles?
- How long can you keep blowing for?
- What happens when the snake gets too long?
- Why are the bubbles so small?
- What happens when you blow hard?
- What happens if you blow softly?
Other things to try
You could add food colouring to the bubble solution or directly onto the socks to change the colour of the bubbles.
Remember to refer to the children as fluid scientists and praise them for using the attributes. You could say things like:
“You have been observant like a fluid scientist because you noticed what came out of the end of your sock…”
The science of 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/spherical?
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 the bubbles form a snake?
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. The bubbles have all joined to together to form a long snake.
Why are the bubbles so small?
The bubbles are so small as the solution and air have been forced through he tiny holes in the weave of the sock.
Why does the snake break?
The force due to gravity (weight) on the bubble snake becomes bigger than the forces holding the bubbles together and so it will break and fall to the ground.
What you’ll need
- Empty plastic bottles- 500 ml work best
- Old clean socks
- Elastic bands
- Washing up liquid
- A container for the solution- big enough to dip the end of the bottle in easily
- Sharp scissors
- Bubble sock provocation
- The fluid scientist poster
- 10 – 20 minutes or so to prepare the bottles and socks and make the solution.
- 10 minutes or so for the activity.