10 EYFS Science Experiments to Try in Your Setting

February 14, 2022

Exciting play for curious young minds...

Exciting play for curious young minds...
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With so many EYFS science experiments to choose from out there, it can be hard to find the right activities for your early years setting.

You need activities that are open-ended enough to follow child interests, while still provoking fascination, curiosity and wonder about the big wide world.

That’s why we’ve scoured the internet to find the perfect EYFS science experiments for you. These activities are particularly stimulating because they’re short, they provide a dramatic reaction, and the children are able to grow their understanding of the world by learning through play.

The activities are also designed to be cost-effective, drawing on common household items as the key ingredients. They’re also simple to demonstrate and perfectly safe under supervision.

Done right, these experiments should come with lots of discussion during the activity to help your children think about what’s happening, why it happens this way, and how it can help us. With any luck, the fascination children experience will also provoke plenty of questions and new interests which you can follow up on in your continuous provision to keep it child-focused.  

1. Float or sink?

The EYFS science experiment: Float or Sink by Happy Hooligans

In a nutshell: Of all of the EYFS science experiments, this one remains an old favourite. It teaches children about buoyancy and how an object’s weight can change when it is in water. It engages everyone in the group as guesses come flying in – making it super collaborative and high-spirited.

What you need:

  • A bucket of water (preferably transparent)
  • A variety of items, some of which may sink and which will float

How you do it: Bring out a tray containing a mix of different items, holding up each item in turn and have the children guess if it will float or sink. Of course, you have to make sure that you’ve got items that’ll do both!

You can adapt the exercise to suit your situation, but it’s a good idea to let the children take turns placing the objects in the water.

2. Magic dancing milk

The EYFS science experiment: Magic Dancing Milk by Mess For Less

In a nutshell: Drawing on the magic of soap, dancing milk can demonstrate to children how different substances can react to each other. Plus, the wonder of the movement in the tray will have all the children entranced.

What you need:

  • A shallow dish or tray (foil trays are fine)
  • Food colouring
  • Milk
  • Toothpicks
  • Soap

How you do it: You’ll need a shallow dish, such as an empty pie dish or baking tray. Submerge the bottom by pouring room temperature milk into it. Add a few blobs of food colouring (the children can do this part) and then hand each child a toothpick dipped in dish soap – and watch the colours dance.

3. A sunflower seed growing experiment

The EYFS science experiment: Growing Beans On Cotton Balls by The Imagination Tree

In a nutshell: EYFS science experiments with instant and dramatic effects are always a winner, and this one will test the children’s tenacity and patience (which can help to build focus and concentration later on) by demonstrating the power of nature.

What you need:

  • Cotton balls
  • Dry beans
  • A jar
  • Water

How you do it: All you will need is a few balls of cotton wool, five or six beans, a jar, and a little water for each child. Place the cotton balls in the jar, moistened, with the beans resting snuggly in the wettest parts. Remind the children to check on their seeds every day and make sure the cotton wool is never dry.

After a few days, a sprout will emerge. Once there is a root, the children can carefully plant their delicate seedling in the garden and marvel as it grows.

4. Show how plants drink water with celery sticks

The EYFS science experiment: Why Do Flowers Change Color in Food Colouring? by Go Science Girls

In a nutshell: Use celery sticks or any white flowers to show how capillaries carry water and blood around the body (or plant). It also helps to demonstrate to children how and why plants drink water.

What you need:

  • 3 celery sticks or 3 white flowers
  • 3 different shades of food colouring
  • Jars with water

How you do it: You’ll need at least three cups containing water with a different colour food dye in each. Red, blue, and yellow usually give the most visual effect. Add a celery stick or a white flower to each cup and wait for the change!

5. How do clouds make rain?

The EYFS science experiment: Cloud In A Jar by Fun Learning For Kids

In a nutshell: Explaining that rain is not magic can be tricky – even for adults. Explaining that clouds are actually tiny droplets of moisture rather than solid, puffy, cushions can be even more challenging. Demonstrate how scientific nature can be with this cloud in a jar EYFS science experiment.

What you need:

  • A jar of water
  • Blue food colouring
  • Shaving foam
  • A medicine dropper or pipette

How you do it: Using a glass of water to demonstrate the proverbial “sky”, create a cloud to hover at the top by using shaving foam. Now, use a medicine dropper or a pipette to drop little droplets of food colouring into the cloud. Eventually, the food colouring will seep through the cloud to demonstrate rain.

Children may start to grasp the relationship to our outside world, how this is what happens when clouds get too heavy – some of the water has to rain down.

6. A rainbow eruption

The EYFS science experiment: Rainbow Eruption by Learn, Play, Imagine

In a nutshell: Much like the typical volcano experiments high school students do, this one is riveting because it delivers such a visual and exciting reaction. It demonstrates how substances, like vinegar, can change in colour, texture, and form when they are mixed with other compounds like baking soda and fizzy drinks.

What you need:

  • Paper cups
  • Different shades of food colouring
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar

How you do it: Rainbow colours are always fun, so start by lining up a few paper cups, each with its own food colouring – red, yellow, green, blue and a mixture of red and blue (to make purple). Add a scoop of baking soda and then pour in a little vinegar. There you have it – it’s magic (or science)!

7. Why we use soap

The EYFS science experiment: Why We Use Soap by Life With More Babies

In a nutshell: This experiment can demonstrate the cleaning power of soap and help you to explain why it’s so important. Once children understand that soap is more than lubrication tool for handwashing, they might just be inspired to use it better. The highlight? The children get to chase away the bad germs in their own little mixing bowl.

What you need:

  • Milk
  • A shallow dish
  • Fine glitter
  • Toothpicks
  • Soap

How you do it: Place milk in a shallow dish, a few centimetres deep. Add a few splotches of fine glitter – you can use many colours or just one or two. Using a toothpick with soap on it, place the soap in the middle of the glitter and, like magic, the “germs” (the glitter) will disperse!

This demonstrates the soap’s ability to pick up both oil and dirt from our skin, while scaring away germs when we wash our hands.

8. Dancing worms?

The EYFS science experiment: Dancing Worm Activity by Living Life And Learning

In a nutshell: Any random movements from inanimate objects are always a thrill for children and adults. This activity brings hands-on fun together with the spellbinding reactions of science to make dancing worms. The bonus? If one or two worms are gobbled up during the activity, you can write it off as well-justified collateral damage.

What you need:

  • Warm tap water
  • 3 tbsp baking soda
  • A glass of vinegar
  • Gummy worms
  • Empty glass
  • Spoon

How you do it: You’ll need a glass of warm tap water with three tbsp baking soda stirred in. You’ll also need a glass of vinegar, gummy worms, and utensils like an empty glass, a spoon for stirring, and a knife or scissors. Add the worms to your glass of warm water with bicarb and stir again, then leave it to rest for 15 minutes.

After the allotted time, have the children drop the worms into the glass of vinegar – there will be a dramatic pause before they start to dance around. Top tip: tell the children that dancing worms no longer taste good – just in case there are any sneaky fingers.

9. Paper cup bubble machine

The EYFS science experiment: Paper Cup Bubble Machine By Lesson Zest

In a nutshell: Ready to put those engineering brains to the test? This is one of the easiest EYFS science experiments for you to prepare out of all the ones we’ve chosen. The paper cup bubble machine activity demonstrates how we can push air into a container in one area and see it emerge on the other side in a different form. Explain clearly that the purpose of the straw is to act as a tunnel.

What you need:

  • A bendy straw
  • A paper cup
  • Duct tape
  • Water
  • Dishwashing liquid or bubble bath

How you do it: This activity requires only the very basics, a bendy straw, a paper cup, duct tape, water and dishwashing liquid or some other foaming liquid (like bubble bath). Place the straw through the cup somewhere near the bottom and use the duct tape to seal the hole.

The soapy water should submerge the straw in the cup – and voila – it’s ready for blowing bubbles! This is probably one for the older kids only, as you don’t want any unexpected bubbles when children get confused between blowing and sipping!

10. A DIY robot hand

The EYFS science experiment: DIY Robot Hand By Kaplan

In a nutshell: This STEM activity is ideal for children from the age of three and comes with a rewarding finish to tickle their imaginations. At the same time,the actual activity will test their engineering skills while it develops hand-eye coordination and provides insight into the anatomy that provides function and mobility to the hand.

What you need:

  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Straws
  • String

How you do it: Through a simple series of cutting, pasting, and threading tasks, children can easily put together this hand. You may wish to give each child a page that already contains little marks as a guide for where they should stick their pieces of straws.

To make it safer, you could provide pre-cut straw pieces. The children will love to thread the string through the straws, you can explain to them that the snake has to go through all of the tunnels.

The big ideas

Official Danish Government Reopening Advice

Guidance from the Danish Health Ministry, translated in full to English.

Picture of a Guidance document
UK Nursery Covid-19 Response Group Recommendations

The full recommendations from a working group of over 70 nursery chains in the UK.

Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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