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5 Science Experiments for Under 5s

To celebrate British Science week, we’ve compiled our favourite science activities for you to try at home with your little one this weekend!

Did you know…

Each of these activities provides your child with the opportunity to further develop the following Early Years skills:

  • Communication and Language - learning new vocabulary, listening, and understanding.

  • Physical Skills – developing fine motor skills.

  • Understanding of the World – better understanding of the natural world.

  • Mathematics – counting (count items together as an additional learning opportunity).

Let’s dive straight in!

The Experiment: Rain Cloud in a Jar

This amazing activity will give your little one the opportunity to explore clouds and rain in a hands-on and fun way.

You will need:

  • Large jar

  • Shaving cream (not gel)

  • Food colouring

  • Pipettes

  • Small cups

  • Water


  1. Mix the food colouring with a bit of water in the small cup – you can do this with multiple colours.

  2. Fill the jar with water – so it’s about ¾ full.

  3. Set the jar and cup/s on a table, with pipettes in each cup.

  4. Right before you’re ready to start, spray a bunch of shaving cream into the jar so it reaches just above the top of the jar.

  5. Let your little one experiment! Drop the food colouring on top of the shaving cream and chat about what you can observe.

The Experiment: Sink or Float Experiment

This activity is ideal for younger children! It teaches little ones all about density and buoyancy – it combines science with water and colour for extra fun.

You will need:

  • Waterproof toys or household items – select items that both sink and float. These can be: metal utensils, coins, stones, toy cars, keys etc. for sinking and Duplo, lollipop sticks, corks, crayons, rubber balls etc. for floating.

  • A container – plastic tub, pot, bucket etc.

  • Water

  • Drinking straws (optional)

  • Food colouring (optional)


  1. Collect everything you need for the experiment – you can turn this into a scavenger hunt for your little one.

  2. Fill your container with lukewarm water.

  3. Optionally, add food colouring to colour your water.

  4. Ask your little one to predict which items will sink and which will float and chat about why.

  5. Let your little one drop in the object and observe/chat about what happens!

  6. Optionally, you can then extend this activity by giving your little one a drinking straw to blow the floating items around. This is a fun way to teach about kinetic energy as the air they blow propels the floating item forward.

The Experiment: Colour-Changing Flowers

This experiment explores how plants and flowers grow – particularly how they absorb water to stay alive. It can take around 12 hours to see a difference so it’s perfect for setting up in the morning and coming back to at the end of the day.

You will need:

  • Food colouring

  • Water glasses/small glass vases

  • Water

  • White flowers

  • Scissors


  1. Add a few drops of your food colouring in a glass/vase.

  2. Fill up the glass with water.

  3. Cut the end of the flower stem for best absorption (only 1-2cm or longer to fit glass).

  4. Carefully place one flower per glass.

  5. Leave for 12 – 24 hours. After, you can revisit these and discuss the changes you can observe!

The Experiment: Grow Your Own Beans

Growing experiments take time but are also some of the most fulfilling. It’s also an ideal opportunity to teach your little one about healthy and sustainable food habits.

You will need:

  • Glass jar or bottle

  • Cotton wool balls

  • 2 beans – you can use any, but this experiment used dried butter beans (straight from the supermarket).

  • Water


  1. Stuff some cotton wool balls into the jar.

  2. Put 1 bean on either side of the jar.

  3. Add water – enough to make it damp but not too wet.

  4. Place on a windowsill.

  5. Within 2-3 days you should start to see it grow. After about a week you should be able to find a shoot coming off the main root! You can keep a diary to revisit the changes you see every day.

The Experiment: DIY Robot Hand

This is our favourite activity on today’s list! It is best for older preschool children and is an amazing engineering activity which encourages the exploration of robotics, engineering, and creative thinking.

You will need:

  • Drinking straws (paper or plastic)

  • Jumbo-sized straws (paper or plastic)

  • Card paper – choose any colour you’d like!

  • Scissors

  • Pencil or crayon

  • Yarn or string in various colours

  • Tape


  1. Trace an adult’s hand onto the card.

  2. Cut out the outline.

  3. Place adults hand back to card and mark the location of the joints, then fold at the marked joints.

  4. Cut the standard straws into ¼”, ½”, 1” and 2 ¼” sizes.

  5. Tape these onto the hand and the jumbo straw to the wrist.

  6. Using different colours of string, cut 5 strands into 2ft long pieces, and knot one end.

  7. Thread one bit of string through each finger – use different colours for each finger and have them meet at the wrist.

  8. Finally, it’s playtime! Pull on the strings individually and in combination to explore your robotic hand. Click here for an in-depth instruction video.


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