Science Experiment Ideas:

1. Sink or float?

This is a classic science activity that explores the principle of buoyancy and can be done with even very young children. Get a large container (eg a bowl or plastic box), fill it with water, and with the children collect a range of objects from around the nursery. The children then take it in turns to drop an object into the water – after guessing whether it will sink or float.

2. Will it dissolve?

This activity teaches children about solubility, specifically whether a given substance will dissolve in water. You’ll need several small, transparent water containers (e.g. plastic or glass cups) and a range of substances to test (e.g. sugar, oil, salt, food colouring, rice, flour, vitamin tablets). Before dropping each substance into a cup ask the children to guess whether it will dissolve or not.

3. How do plants grow

This is more of an ongoing science activity, but if you choose quick-growing seeds the children won’t have to wait too long before they start seeing results. Cress is the classic quick-growing plant (and lends itself to creative uses, eg as hair for a monster), but how about trying sunflowers (good for measuring growth against a wall) or pumpkins (to tie in with seasonal activities).

4. Crazy cornflour slime

This activity is a bit messy but really fun and hands-on; children love exploring the strange properties of this cross between a liquid and a solid. For best results use a large shallow container that you can put on the floor, like a sand/water tray. Mix together cornflour and water until you have a slime consistency. Try punching the slime – it instantly turns solid. Roll some slime into a ball in your hand and then stop – it turns back into a liquid.

5. Magic dancing milk

For this activity – an engaging introduction to chemical reactions – you’ll need a shallow dish, full-fat milk, food colouring, cotton buds and washing up liquid. Pour some milk into the dish, add some drops of food colouring, then dab with a cotton bud dipped in washing up liquid. Use a few different colours at the same time for maximum impact, and try dabbing in different places.