Monday, November 27, 2017


Christmas STEAM: Paint Explosion Ornaments

STEM activities and STEAM projects are the only way we keep learning through the holiday season, so I am super excited to share these paint exposion ornaments with you as part of the Virtual Book Club's Ornament week!

Ever since last year when I saw Sarah's Erupting Ornaments here, I have wanted to try it with paint! And let me tell has been one of our favorite Christmas STEAM / STEM activities so far!!

The supply list seems a little long, but they are all really basic supplies that you probably already have (with the exception of the ornament balls...I grabbed a bunch of those at Walmart and the Dollar Store!):

Simple Supplies:

* ornament balls
* acrylic paint
* baking soda
* vinegar
* glitter
* something to catch the mess in (I used pyrex bowls)
* something to pour the vinegar with (I used graduated cylinders)
* safety goggles (because everyone loves to work with goggles)
* optional: butcher paper (I love to cover our work area with butcher paper so I can scoop up any spills and throw them away easily!)

I setup our work area before I invited the kids -- I've learned that when you're doing a "messy" project with more than one or two kiddos setting up all the supplies makes it easier for them to be independent, which makes it easier to help everyone as they need it. ;)

Easy How To:

1- Squirt some paint in the ornaments and swirl it around. My toddler needed help holding her ornament up while she squirted paint in, but she LOVED this part as much as the other kids! Don't get too attached to the design (see the next few steps), but have fun with it! I suggested the kids limit themselves to two colors, but some used four or five and it still looked awesome!

2- Add a spoonful or two of baking soda and 50-100 millileters of vinegar. If you don't have graduated cylinders, just use a cup. ;)  Let it explode over a pan!

3- Repeat steps 1 & 2 as often as you like! You can also add glitter in at any point...because everyone loves glitter!

4- Let them dry!! This took at least a day!

And ta da!! Fantastic ornaments to remind them of science play!

I actually wanted to add a squirt of white paint after the colors dried so they would "pop" a little more, but my kiddos wouldn't hear of it! They wanted to get the ornaments up and played with...and eventually on the tree!

5- Some of my kids were a little frustrated when the explosion lifted the paint out of the ornaments. They loved the colorful eruptions, but they wanted a little more control over their designs. So some of them swirled the paint and then just let them dry. This would also make a cool activity all by itself:

So how is this a STEAM activity? It incorporates aspects of science, technology, engineering, art, and math into one fun project:

SCIENCE: problem solving, questioning, testing, experimenting, and chemistry (see note below)
TECHNOLOGY: using tools like graduated cylinders and paint bottles
ENGINEERING: designing the ornament, deciding how to organize and repeat steps 2 & 3
ART: creating an ornament
MATH: measuring vinegar, counting spoonfuls of baking soda

I would LOVE to see pictures of any ornaments you make! Feel free to email me or leave a comment!!

Chemistry note: What exactly is going on here? When vinegar (acetic acid) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) react, the final products are carbon dioxide (a gas), sodium acetate (aqueous), and water. The carbon dioxide bubbles up, bound to paint pigment, and "explodes." The sodium acetate separates into sodium ions and acetate molecules. The carbon dioxide dissipates in the air and over a day or so the water and acetate evaporate, leaving the paint pigments behind. Of course, we just tell our preschoolers that vinegar and baking soda react and make carbon dioxide...and carbon dioxide is a gas that bubbles!

As I mentioned earlier, we are joining in the Virtual Book Club for Kids this week to make TONS of ornaments! You can join in too at the Virtual Book Club for Kids FB page here

This week we are making ornaments and featuring the book Merry Christmas Mouse. Check it out below (image is an Amazon affiliate link):

Then be sure to check out all these fun ornament ideas from the VBC co-hosts:

Advent Countdown for Kids
Peppermint Cream Mice - Rainy Day Mum
Christmas STEAM: Paint Eruption Ornaments - Preschool Powol Packets
Solar System Ornaments- Teach Beside Me
Elf Station Ornament CoLor Sort - Sea of Knowledge
If You Give a Mouse Fingerprint Ornament for Kids - The Educators' Spin On It

Happy Educating,

Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

I may share at any of these parties!

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Unknown said...

SO much fun!!! I bet your kids loved this.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Yes!! It was a huge hit!!

Kids Songs said...

Creative and impressive way to teach kids!!! Very Impressive.