Simple Play Ideas. Inside Potion Making

Oct 12, 2015

Today's simple play idea is one that people often play outside, but is equally as fun inside too. Making potions! My children very much enjoy adding little leaves, flowers and pebbles to water when they are outside. In fact, I remember loving to play like this when I was young too. To play inside, rather than searching the garden for potion supplies, we raid the pantry and craft cupboard instead, looking for small items that can be mixed into water. 

Here is a fun sensory "Invitation to Play" potion making that encourages skills such as pouring, transferring and scooping whilst investigating solubility (which things dissolve or not), capacity, buoyancy (whether they sink or float) and more.

Ages: 2 years +
(N was 3 years old here. See the handy tips at the bottom to Simplify and Extend to suit your child's needs) 

Whenever we're using water, inside, I tend to supply the materials in our water-table to try and contain any mess. You could also pop them in a large plastic tub or even in the bath. A bath mat or towel can be good to have on the floor to catch any spills and to avoid a slippery floor.

We had a quick look in the pantry and craft cupboard for some potion making supplies. We used a small amount of:
  • salt 
  • sugar 
  • cocoa
  • bread crumbs
  • plain flour
  • cornflour
  • bicarb of soda
  • glitter 
  • sequins
  • coloured water (just a tiny drip of food colouring required) 

I also supplied:
  • a number of different sized containers 
  • cups
  • jugs 
  • spoons 
  • a whisk 
  • a medicine dropper.

This sort of activity needs little to no explanation for children. They will know what they want to do and no matter what, they'll learn something from it as they scoop, mix, pour and experiment. My son dove right in! 
Lots of concentration and coordination required. This type of play encourages children to use everyday important life-skills such as pouring, scooping and transferring. Practicing these things through play gives children added confidence as well as time to consolidate the skills, so that when it comes to meal times or food preparation, they are able to confidently participate in these tasks and be more independent.
Mess contained and around an hour of play achieved. Success.

Handy Tips

Simplify this activity for younger children by sticking close by and encouraging and helping them to use the materials as needed. Children with little experience with this sort of play might benefit from assistance in learning how to transfer water using a medicine dropper and with some ideas of different combinations they could try. You could ask them questions like, "What do you think will happen if you add in some cocoa?" or "Do the sequins mix in and dissolve (become part of the liquid) or do they stay the same as they started?"

Extend this activity by:
  • Using a couple of different colours of water to practice colour mixing as well
  • Asking children to predict what they think will happen to each ingredient when added to water. Will it dissolve, thicken the water, float on top, sink to the bottom, etc.?
  • Encouraging children to later write or draw about their experience.
  • Having children write out a list of materials they could use for potion making.
  • Writing a story about the magical potion they made and what it does, etc.

- Save Out of date pantry food. When cleaning out your pantry, rather than discarding those out-of-date items that most of us end up with up the back of the pantry, pop them into a separate container for play. Many items can be used for sensory play, activities like this or even art activities. I feel good about using food items for play and learning that would otherwise have ended up in the bin.

- Use descriptive language that goes with this experience to help develop your child's vocabulary. Eg "pour, tip, mix, dissolve, cloudy, float, sink, combine" etc.

 Invitations to Play like this one are a favourite way of mine to set up an activity. Here are a few more we've shared: 

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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