Easy Science Activities for Kids

Who says science needs to be intimidating? These easy science activities for kids combine a little knowledge and a lot of fun for a sure-fire combination.

You'll learn more about weather by making a cloud mobile, twister in a bottle, and a wind speed gauge. You'll help the birds and learn about clouds and tornadoes. You'll discover some of the mysteries of color and light with a whirling color wheel, color filters, and an optical illusion. And there's plenty more easy science activities for kids to try.

Maybe best of all, you won't need expensive equipment or a trip to the store for supplies. Check the kitchen and the recycling bin, add some craft supplies, gather your junior lab assistants, and have fun exploring science with these easy science activities for kids.

Follow the links below for some easy science activities that your kids will enjoy:

Nutshell Bird Feeders

Turn nutshells into tiny feeders for birds to enjoy.

Bird Feeding Station

Recycle a plastic bottle and help the birds survive the winter.

Traffic Signs

Make sure toy cars and trucks obey traffic laws with signs you build.

Cloud Mobile

Learn about different kinds of clouds by making a cloud mobile.

Twister in a Bottle

Learn more about tornadoes by creating a small twister.

Whirling Color Wheel

Spin a color wheel -- and watch the colors disappear into total white.

Optical Illusion

Be amazed by how the design changes when you spin a painted plate.

Freeze and Expand

Watch what happens when you fill balloons with water and freeze them.

3-D Cereal Graphs

Discover the fun of three-dimensional graphs made with something you can eat.

Memory Test

Look at a room, leave it, and see how much you can remember about it.

Color Filters

Make your own color filters to learn more about colors and light.

Water Scale

Check out this easy way to measure the volume of different objects.

Wind Speed Gauge

Measure the speed of the wind with a pretty outdoor decoration that you make.

Looking for an easy craft that's fun for kids to make and a great gift for seniors? Go to the next page to find out how to make nutshell bird feeders.

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Nutshell Bird Feeders

Birds at nutshell feeders are fun to watch.
Birds at nutshell feeders are fun to watch.
©2007, Publications International, Ltd.

Tiny nutshell bird feeders are thoughtful little gifts and an easy science activity that you can make with kids. The next time you eat a nut, save the shell. The birds will enjoy these little treats, and your kids will enjoy watching them eat.

What You'll Need:

  • Nutshells
  • Peanut butter
  • Birdseed
  • Ribbon
  • Nontoxic glue

Step 1: Fill an empty nutshell with smooth peanut butter.

Step 2: Sprinkle the peanut butter with birdseed.

Step 3: Glue ribbon on the shells to attach the tasty treats to the branches of trees near the windows of your home. Your family and neighbors will enjoy watching birds and squirrels gobble up your handiwork!

Want to find another way to help the birds? Look on the next page to learn how you can recycle a plastic bottle into a bird feeding station.

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Bird Feeding Station

Bird feeding station
Bird feeding station
©2007, Publications International, Ltd.

Turn a plastic bottle into something useful -- a bird feeding station where your kids' feathered friends can feast. Add this to your list of easy science activities for kids as one that shows a positive purpose for recycling. You'll need to help the kids with cutting the bottle.

What You'll Need:

  • Plastic 2-liter bottle (without a base cap)
  • Blunt scissors
  • Nail
  • 12-inch wood dowel
  • Strong cord
  • Birdseed

Step 1: Soak the bottle in warm water to remove the label.

Step 2: Make sure an adult helps use a nail to carefully poke a hole in each side of the plastic bottle near the bottom for the perch. The holes need to be large enough to fit the dowel.

Step 3: Make a U-shaped cut 2 inches above the perch hole on each side of the bottle. Bend each cut area outward like a little awning.

Step 4: Punch two holes just under the top rim of the bottle for the hanger.

Step 5: Thread a piece of strong cord through the top holes to hang the feeder.

Step 6: Insert the dowel through the perch holes.

Step 7: Fill the feeder with birdseed, and put the cap back on the bottle.

Step 8: Hang the bird feeder outside, and watch the birds eat.

Beep! Beep! Oh, no, it's a toy car traffic jam! Go to the next page to see how you can get everything under control with your own traffic signs.

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Traffic Signs

Traffic signs
Traffic signs
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Traffic signs are fun to make for toy cars -- and a great way for kids to learn their road signs. You'll need to help with the power tools needed for this easy science activity for kids.

What You'll Need:

  • Five 1×2-inch boards
  • Five 1/4-inch wood dowels
  • Saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Power drill
  • 1/4-inch drill bit
  • Tape measure
  • Wood glue
  • Cardboard
  • Blunt scissors
  • Markers
  • Transparent tape

Step 1: Make sure an adult saws and drills all the wood pieces.

Step 2: Sand the wood smooth.

Step 3: Saw the 1×2-inch boards into 2-inch pieces for the bases of the signs.

Step 4: Drill a 1/4-inch hole in the center of each wood base.

Step 5: Saw the dowels into 4-inch pieces for the sign posts.

Step 6: Glue each dowel in a base.

Step 7: To make a sign, cut a piece from the cardboard that measures 4 inches by 1-1/2 inches.

Step 8: Fold the cardboard in half and draw a traffic sign on each side.

Step 9: Tape the sides closed to make a pocket.

Step 10: Slip the cardboard over a dowel sign post.

Step 11: Repeat to make four more signs. For instance, you could make a stop sign, yield sign, traffic signal, railroad crossing sign, and walk/don't walk sign.

Look on the next page to see how you can make a great fluffy cloud mobile and learn more about clouds.

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Cloud Mobile

Cloud mobile
Cloud mobile
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Make a cloud mobile with your kids, and they'll be able to identify the different types of clouds by just looking up. This easy science activity for kids turns meteorology into art and brings outdoor learning inside.

What You'll Need:

  • Poster board
  • Scissors
  • Cotton balls
  • Glue
  • String
  • Dowel rod
  • Paint and paintbrush (optional)

Step 1: Check online or in a library book to learn more about clouds. You'll want to find pictures of different kinds of clouds and their shapes, as well as information about how high they are in the sky.

Step 2: Cut the shape of each kind of cloud out of poster board.

Step 3: Glue cotton balls to both sides of each shape to make it look more like the cloud it represents. Make each cloud look like the real thing as much as you can. For a cumulus cloud, bunch up lots of cotton balls to make it fluffy. For a cirrus cloud, stretch out the cotton balls to make them thin and wispy.

Step 4: You can use a little gray paint (just mix a little black into white) to make some of the clouds gray.

Step 5: When all your clouds are assembled and the glue is dry, make a small hole in the top of each shape.

Step 6: Tie a piece of string through each hole. Nimbostratus clouds should have the longest string, since they're closest to Earth. Cirrus clouds should have the shortest string, since they're the highest clouds.

Step 7: Now tie each piece of string to a dowel rod.

Step 8: Finally, tie a piece of string around the middle of the dowel, and use it to hang your mobile.

Ever wondered what makes a tornado spin? Go to the next page to make a twister in a bottle and learn more.

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Twister in a Bottle

Twister in a Bottle
Twister in a Bottle
©2007, Publications International, Ltd.

Create a twister in a bottle, and you'll see how tornadoes work. While most real tornadoes are made of air, this easy science activity for kids uses water to demonstrate the same swirling action that tornadoes display.

What You'll Need:

  • Water
  • Two 2-liter bottles
  • Cardboard
  • Pencil or pen
  • Scissors
  • Tape

Step 1: Pour water into a 2-liter plastic bottle until it is about three-quarters full.

Step 2: Use a pen to trace around the bottle's opening on a piece of cardboard, and cut out that circle. Then cut a 1/4-inch hole in the center of the circle.

Step 3: Place the cardboard circle on top of your water bottle's opening.

Step 4: Turn the second 2-liter bottle upside down, and tape the two bottles together, top to top.

Step 5: Wrap the bottle necks with tape so the connection doesn't leak.

Step 6: Flip the bottles so the bottle of water is upside-down on top.

Step 7: With one hand, hold the bottom bottle to steady it. With the other hand, begin moving the top bottle in a circle.

Step 8: Watch what happens. You'll see a tornado in a bottle.

Water tornadoes, such as the one you just made, happen in nature, too. When a tornado forms over water, it's called a waterspout.

Look on the next page to learn how you can make a whirling color wheel that makes a rainbow of colors disappear.

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Whirling Color Wheel

Try this experiment with a whirling color wheel to make all of the colors of the rainbow disappear. You'll find that this easy science activity for kids comes with a surprise ending -- and a lesson about color.

What You'll Need:

  • White tag board or paper plate
  • Protractor
  • Pencil
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush

Step 1: Cut a circle out of white tag board (or use a white paper plate).

Step 2: Use the protractor to measure and mark seven equally sized, pie-shaped sections on the circle.

Step 3: Paint each section with one of the seven colors of the rainbow. Make sure the colors are in the order in which they appear in the rainbow (violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red).

Step 4: When the wheel is dry, punch a pencil through the middle to make a spinner.

Step 5: Spin the wheel, and watch what happens. If you spin the wheel fast enough, the seven colors will blend and the whole wheel will appear to be white.

Go to the next page to see how you can create an optical illusion by painting a plate, spinning it, and watching the designs change.

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Optical Illusion

Optical Illusion
Optical Illusion
©2007, Publications International, Ltd.

This optical illusion is an easy science activity for kids that combines art and magic. Paint a plate with primary colors, spin the plate, and you'll see your design change in midair.

What You'll Need:

  • Compass instrument for drawing circles
  • Pencil
  • Paper plate
  • Blunt scissors
  • Newspaper
  • Poster paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Hole punch
  • Lightweight string or yarn
  • Ruler

Step 1: Use the compass to draw a 5-inch-diameter circle on a paper plate, and then cut it out.

Step 2: Cover your work surface with newspaper.

Step 3: Paint the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue on the circle, as shown in the illustration. Let the paint dry.

Step 4: Punch two holes close together near the center of the circle.

Step 5: Cut a 30-inch piece of string.

Step 6: Thread the string through the two holes, and tie it in a loop.

Step 7: Hold each end of the string loop, and rotate your wrists to twist the string.

Step 8: Pull the strings taut to untwist them, and watch the circle spin.

When the circle spins, the reds, blues, and yellows appear to blend together, creating exciting new colors.

What happens to balloons when you fill them with water and freeze them? Look on the next page for an activity to show you how objects freeze and expand.

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Freeze and Expand

Watch the water in balloons freeze and expand.
Watch the water in balloons freeze and expand.
©2007, Publications International, Ltd.

Try this easy science activity for kids to see how items freeze and expand. Have you ever slipped a full plastic drink bottle in the freezer at bedtime, only to find it cracked at dawn? Frozen things expand, which is a simple fact of physics. To find out how much, try this chilly challenge. You'll need to fill three small balloons with water, leaving a little air space at the top of each when you tie it off.

What You'll Need:

  • Balloons
  • Water
  • Freezer
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Paper
  • Pens or pencils

Step 1: Barely fill the first balloon with water, and then tie it, leaving a little air space at the top.

Step 2: Double the water in the second balloon, and tie it.

Step 3: Put three times as much water in the third balloon as in the first, and tie it.

Step 4: Measure the size of the water balloons.

Step 5: Put all three balloons in the freezer overnight.

Step 6: Measure the balloons again after they are frozen.

Step 7: Compare the results. You'll find the frozen balloons are bigger because the water inside expanded as it froze.

Why just draw graphs on paper when you can make them with cereal -- and eat some, too? Look on the next page for more on making 3-D cereal graphs.

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3-D Cereal Graphs

Working with math in three dimensions is fun, as you'll see with these 3-D cereal graphs. This easy science activity for kids also shows how simple it is to make a graph with objects as well as numbers. Just be sure not to eat all the cereal before you're done graphing with it!

What You'll Need:

  • Cereal with different colors or shapes
  • Large sheets of paper
  • Markers or colored pencils

Step 1: Pour out a handful of cereal, and estimate (or guess) which color is the most common. (No counting allowed.)

Step 2: Arrange the cereal in rows according to color.

Step 3: Place the rows side by side onto a sheet of paper.

Step 4: Now look at the graph to see which color of cereal was most common. Was your estimate correct?

Step 5: Will another handful produce the same results? Try the same project a few more times to see, and write down the results.

The same graphing exercise can be done with snack crackers, sorting by shape. For a more challenging option, try a bag of assorted dried beans or a bag of pasta in different shapes or colors.

How good is your memory? Find out with the activity on the next page, a memory test based on what you see in a room.

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Memory Test

Here's a fun and simple memory test to see how much kids can remember. Now you see it, now you don't. What do you remember? This easy science activity for kids will let them see what they can recall quickly.

What You'll Need:

  • Paper
  • Pencils

Step 1: Take kids into a room with lots of things in it, both big and small.

Step 2: Give them two minutes to memorize what they see in the room.

Step 3: Lead the kids out of the room, and give them two more minutes to write down everything they remember seeing. Whoever remembers the most things correctly wins.

Go to the next page to learn more about colors and light with color filters.

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Color Filters

Filters let through light of their own color.
Filters let through light of their own color.
©2007, Publications International, Ltd.

Experiment with color filters and you'll find that they let through light the same color as themselves. You'll see colors differently when you're done with this easy science activity for kids!

What You'll Need:

  • Cardboard (9x12 inches)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Cellophane (8x10 inches) in red, blue, green, yellow, and orange
  • Tape
  • Markers
  • White paper

Step 1: Cut the centers out of five pieces of 9x12-inch cardboard, leaving a frame that is 1-1/2 inches wide all around.

Step 2: Use tape to securely fasten one sheet of colored cellophane to each cardboard frame. You have created 5 color filters.

Step 3: Look through one of the filters. What does it do to the colors of objects in the room?

Step 4: Try another.

Step 5: Look through two filters at a time. What do you see?

Step 6: Draw simple pictures of shapes on several pieces of white paper, using only one color of marker for each piece of paper.

Step 7: View each picture through a filter that is the same color as the picture. What do you see?

Step 8: Look at the pictures through filters of different colors.

Step 9: Continue to experiment with your filters.

On the next page, find out how you can easily measure the volume of different objects with a water scale made from a bowl of water.

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Water Scale

Measure an object's volume with a water scale.
Measure an object's volume with a water scale.
©2007, Publications International, Ltd.

A water scale provides a simple way to measure an object's volume -- or to compare the volume of two differently shaped objects. You probably have everything you need in your kitchen to try this easy science activity for kids.

What You'll Need:

  • Large bowl
  • Baking pan
  • Water
  • Assorted items (apple, rock, etc.)
  • Clear measuring cup

Step 1: Place a large bowl in a baking pan, and fill the bowl to the rim with water.

Step 2: Gently lower an apple, a rock, or another item into the water in the bowl. The water will overflow into the baking pan to make room for the object dropped into it.

Step 3: Carefully remove the bowl from the pan, and pour the displaced water into a clear measuring cup.

Step 4: Check where the water level lines up with the scale on the measuring cup to determine the volume of the object.

Step 5: Refill the bowl, and use the water scale to measure another object.

Step 6: Compare the volumes of the different objects.

Get ready for gusts of wind or a gentle breeze. Look on the next page to find out how you can make a wind speed gauge, or anemometer.

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Wind Speed Gauge

Measure wind speed with an anemometer.
Measure wind speed with an anemometer.
©2007, Publications International, Ltd.

"Anemometer" is a fancy name for wind speed gauge, something you can make as an easy science activity for kids. Measure the wind's strength, and make a pretty outdoor decoration at the same time.

What You'll Need:

  • Hole punch
  • Plastic lid from a 39-ounce coffee can
  • Blunt scissors
  • Clean plastic egg carton
  • Stapler and staples
  • Yarn
  • 3/8-inch wooden dowel
  • Electrician's tape
  • Clean foam food tray (from fruits and vegetables only)

Step 1: Punch a hole in the center of the plastic lid that is large enough to fit the wooden dowel.

Step 2: Cut out four cups from an empty egg carton. Staple the cups to the lid as shown in the illustration.

Step 3: Cut 12 strips of yarn, each 6 inches long, and staple three of the pieces of yarn behind each cup.

Step 4: Roll a 4-inch piece of tape around the dowel about 2 inches from the end.

Step 5: To make the washer below the lid, cut a 1-inch circle from the foam food tray. Cut a small hole in the center of the washer that is large enough to fit through the dowel.

Step 6: Place the dowel through the center hole on the plastic lid. The lid should be just below the tape.

Step 7: Place the washer on the dowel under the plastic lid.

Step 8: Wrap another 4-inch piece of tape around the dowel under the washer.

Step 9: Stick the dowel in the ground outside your house in a windy place, and watch the anemometer turn.

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