Experiments at the Picnic Table

Just because I have made sure to get Sloan out of the house every day during our transition period doesn’t mean we haven’t had any fun inside of it. On Sunday, we conducted a couple of “experiments” at Sloan’s picnic table.

I found a website that listed various educational activities that toddlers could enjoy. Out of the 35 options listed, we made a goal to complete two of them.

Figuring that Sidney would forgive me if I did one “messy” experiment, I chose one that was very hands-on and another that was more of a demonstration. We went to the grocery store and pulled baking soda, vegetable oil, strawberry cake mix, and food coloring. With our supplies purchased, we headed back to the house.

We came back to the store with these ingredients.

Our first mission was to make strawberry ice cream dough. The recipe promised that a fluffy, strawberry-licious product would result. Well, at least it was strawberry-licious.

This is what the strawberry ice cream dough was supposed to look like.

Much to Sloan’s astonishment, I instantly turned the contents of a liquid measuring glass pink by adding a few drops of food coloring. Pushing the pink water to the side, Sloan helped me rip two packages of baking soda into a white plastic bin. We then poured an entire box of strawberry cake mix on top of it. Next, we brought the measuring cup back into play and started pouring the water into the bin. We used a wooden spoon to mix the concoction, adding water intermittently.

Sloan mixing the baking powder and cake mix.

When it was all said and done, we added the water a little too intermittently. There was nothing fluffy or “doughy” about our creation, instead, it was more of a thick strawberry paste. Thinking on my feet to salvage the experiment, I spinned it to capture the imagination of Sloan.

The strawberry ice cream dough sure didn’t turn out fluffy.

“Hey look, it’s strawberry slime!”

Toddlers LOVE slime. They think it is the greatest thing ever while parents cringe at the mere mention of the five-letter word. Even though it goes against our parental values to encourage slime, on this Sunday afternoon I rolled with it.

Sloan had a lot of fun playing with the slime….even though it wasn’t supposed to be slime.

Although the strawberry ice cream dough didn’t turn out how I envisioned it, the mixture did feel soothing and it smelled really good. Best of all, Sloan loved it.

The encore of our Sunday experiment session was ocean water. I initially thought what we were about to do was unique but Sidney set me straight––apparently ocean water is just as common in elementary school science lessons as dissecting frogs is for middle school ones.

I took a Diet Sunkist 2-liter bottle that had a small amount of soda left and dumped it down the drain. I brought the empty container to Sloan’s picnic table. I then re-introduced what Sloan liked most about the first experiment…food coloring! I put fresh water in the measuring glass and added a few drops of blue dye. I then used a funnel to deposit the colored water into the soda bottle. Next, I took the bottle of vegetable oil and sent it down the funnel into the bottle as well.

Sloan and I making “Ocean Water.”

Sidney then came over to our station and shook the bottle up. The water and oil separated, creating an intense blue dreamy scene inside the bottle. It looked cool, but Sid quietly suggested that next time we should pick up glitter to add in as well.

We sent Sloan to the bathtub to wash off the slime that covered her arms. While Sid watched her, I was able to throw the slime (container and all) and bottle of ocean water into a trash bag and dump it in our big garbage bag outside. Although the experiments didn’t run perfectly, Sloan had fun and the cleanup was mini