School may be out for the summer, but the learning (and the fun) shouldn’t end with the final bell. With just a few supplies, and a cleanup on standby, you can create some truly memorable learning experiences for your kiddos. This summer, make a truly #HappiMess or two, as well as some great memories.

Frozen Volcanoes

Remember that fizzy, fun explosion you made in science class so many years ago? Put a fun outdoor twist on that junior chemistry experiment by making frozen volcanoes; all you need is baking soda, water, vinegar and food coloring. Grab a couple of small bowls, golf balls (or other balls that sink) and some plastic wrap.

Place a ball in the bottom of each bowl, and cover the ball and bowl with a piece of plastic wrap big enough to come up over the sides. Make a mixture of 1 part baking soda and 2 parts water.  Add some food coloring (great for a quick art lesson about primary and secondary colors), and make sure you pour enough into the bowl that it covers the ball. You’ll pour the mixture on top of the wrap, and the ball will create a divot for the mouth of the volcano.

Set the bowls on a flat cookie sheet; place in the freezer until frozen solid. Remove the plastic wrap and dig out the golf ball (a spoon might help here). When you’re ready, take the volcanoes outside, place them on pavement or the sidewalk, and let the kids add a squirt of vinegar. They’ll be delighted to see these icy volcanoes erupt and foam. 

Rainbow Sidewalk Chalk Paint

If you’ve got a budding artist at home, encourage his or her creativity with this easy recipe. You’ll need cornstarch, baking soda, water, liquid watercolor paint (or food coloring) and several squeeze bottles (one per color).

Mix equal parts water and cornstarch with enough color to make a vibrant shade (the base is white, so add as much color as you like). Repeat to make as many colors as you wish (if you make seven, you can teach a lesson on rainbows), and then pour each color into a separate squeeze bottle. 

The soft, smooth texture of the paint as it dries will provide great sensory play for your child. You can even practice the alphabet or sharpen handwriting and drawing skills with this fun activity. As with the volcanoes mentioned above, if you split the mix into thirds and add an equal part of cornstarch, you’ll get a fizzy reaction when you spray it with vinegar. 

Bubbling-Up Fun

Blowing bubbles is a classic outdoor activity for kids, and it creates a clean kind of mess because of the soap. If you want to teach your kids about mixtures, try out this recipe, and watch them marvel at the beautiful bubbles they create.

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup dish soap
  • ½ cup light corn syrup

Measure, pour and gently stir. Blow gently through a bubble wand.

Bonus: If you want to take your bubble blowing up a notch, add some food coloring to the mixture, and then blow the bubbles onto large sheets of printer paper. When the bubbles burst, your little artist will be delighted at the splashes of color.