Simple science activity for under 5’s…oranges and lemons

Science, and exploring in general are fantastic opportunities for children. They can support so many different learning experiences and really encourage thinking skills. I recently wrote about ‘STEM’ in early years (you can find the post here if interested) and this is definitely a great STEM activity.

How this started…

Today we popped for a drink in the cafe after nursery. I had a lemon slice in my Diet Coke which J took an interest in. He licked it and was having a good look at it. I told him that we can use fruit to make our own juice. That was it, we had to pull into Asda to grab some oranges, lemons and limes.

Learning and exploration is great when it is child led. If it’s something the child has chosen or you know they have an interest in then it will make it more meaningful and the children will get so much more out of it.

What we used…

  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Sieve
  • Fork (I couldn’t find juicer thingy)
  • Syringe
  • Water
  • Jug
  • Cups
  • Symbol cards (as this was spontaneous I had to make my own).

We used the black tray outside but as J is sensory sensitive I had to put a foam mat in so he couldn’t feel the tray or the texture of any spilt fruit juice/peelings on him. But this can be done in the kitchen or wherever really.

Step 1:

Cut the fruit in half and squeeze the juice into the cups. This encourages children to feel the texture of the fruit, as well as building the strength in their hands which helps with pencil control later. If the juice is a bit stubborn then twist a fork inside it and this can help release more.

We then sieved the mixture and looked at the seeds and pulp. We talked about which seeds belonged to which fruit. We had a try of all the juices without anything mixed in. J’s face when he tried the lemon juice was funny. His reaction to the lime was to spit it out.

Step 2:

We added water to the juice to dilute it. At first we poured water using the jug but soon J wanted to use the syringe. He explored with moving the water and squirting it into the cups. Yes, it got messy but actually it was a lot of fun and great exploration. We talked about measurements, capacity and comparing which had more or less.

Now try all the drinks again. Talk about if the taste has changed, which is your favourite this time, etc. Part of science is analysing the results and drawing conclusions.

Step 3

The next step is to have a ‘free for all’. It’s time to mix the flavours, use the different tools and resources. J took the lead and I talked about what he was doing and asked him questions. He had fun watching the effects, the movement of the water, how the sieve lets water through etc.

This is a cheap and easy activity to set up. It can be made as long or short as you need it to be for your child/ren. If you want to extend then you can try more fruits or try smoothie making with a blender. You can also turn the fruit juice into ice lollies by adding lolly sticks or plastic fork/spoon into the cups (the cut or pull cup off when frozen). Our children are all scientists, mathematicians, technologists and engineers. They just need the freedom to explore.

What ‘science experiments’ do you do at home? I’m always eager for new activities to try. Let me know in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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