Young Alchemists – Science for Babies, Toddlers and Kids

By Angelique Felix

Young children are always experimenting! If you give your child a cup and a bowl of water, he will fill and pour, push the cup under the surface and watch the water rush in, and investigate why his sleeves get wet when he dips them in.

New theoretical ideas and empirical research show that very young children’s learning and thinking are strikingly similar to learning and thinking in science. (source)

I say that almost all young kids have the fundamental skills of becoming a good scientist!

They Play.

They Explore.


They are CURIOUS.

They want to DISCOVER new things.

They want to know WHY certain things happen.

Every age contributes in its own way of becoming young alchemists.

Explore & Play

During the Baby age (0 to 1) a child explores & plays with what is suitable for its age (click here to see how babies can play). Babies learn about the world through their senses and use their whole body for that investagation. On the picture you see baby girl explore a homemade babypaint (cornstarch, water, food colors).


Do it yourself & observe

When baby grows up to toddler (1 to 3) and preschooler (4 to 6) it will be attracted to do things theirselves with the material being offered. While creating, mixing, making “mess”, they observe and might want to ask you ‘why does this happen’? The picture shows one of my super curious preschoolers making playdough out of flour-water and salt.


Thinking logically & Understand

Getting bigger and being more able to reorganize information a child (6+) shows you that it is ready to use logic and to understand certain processes that are happening. On the picture my daughter pretends to be a witch creating her magical potion. We’ve put out several ingredients and she followed precisely the effects of adding each ingredient separately.

So if we adults stimulate these innate natural abilities, our kids later on will be attracted automatically towards science and technology. What a great new future can lie ahead for the world of tomorrow simply by motivating children to develop their alchemists skills!

Have a look at the video. It’s a compilation of science moments with the kids I work with.




Angelique Felix is the creator of -The Magic Of Play . She’ s on a mission to bring play back in daily lives through bilingual songs, movement & creativity. Angelique teaches 0 to 6 year-olds in Italy, but comes from the Netherlands. She is a single mom passionately loving her only daughter Chanel every day. And she thinks it’s strange to write about herself in the third person :)

Make a Love Connection with Valentines Day Science

Valentine’s Day is a holiday known for its dedication to love, chocolate, and… science? The Science of Love of course!

This year we are celebrating Valentine’s Day science with a kit full of the most eye-catching, heart-grabbing, hands-on science we can find. You can use the Valentine’s Day-themed activities however you want, with whoever you want, but we guarantee that the fun you’ll have will make for a holiday you’ll never forget.

Whether you are looking for activities to do in a classroom setting, at a Valentines party or just with some of your favorite kids, this kit has the experiments for you. So turn down the lights, turn up the music and start in on some science lovin’. In this kit you will find enough materials for nine experiments and suggestions to take them further.
Start off with testing how hot you are with the Love Meter. Gently squeeze the bulb on the bottom of the Love Meter 3000 or Hand Boiler for scientific purposes. The colorful liquid will begin to rise to the top and boil. You are that hot! Or it could be that it isn’t your love that makes the liquid boil but your body temperature.
Now that you know how hot you are, move on to the Energy Stick to make a love connection. Grab a friend or 20 and touch both ends of the Energy Stick. When you complete the circuit, or “connection” the lights and alarm will go off.
Design science jewelry to make amazing Valentine’s gifts. Use special color-changing UV Beads that change color in the sun. When your love takes their unassuming white beads outside, the beads magically change to brillant red. Forget the diamonds and chocolate this year and give them the gift that serves as a reminder for sun protection. If the beads are red, it’s time to put on the sunscreen. Can a diamond necklace save a life?
What about leaving your love a secret message to decode? Forget the boring paper heart Valentines and think like a scientist. Hydrate a bowl full of Water Jelly Marbles and hide a message underneath. When your Valentine fills the bowl with water, the water beads will magically disappear and reveal the message.
The Valentine’s Day Science Kit also contains Magic Color-Changing Flowers that turn pink when exposed to “love potion,” Fortune Telling Fish that identify just how you’re feeling about your crush, and a little Love Potion #9.
Those are just a few of the activities included in the Valentine’s Day Science Kit, and we bet you’ll combine them to create even more. The science of love is incredible! You will also have Professor Cupid with you every step of the way to explain the science behind each activity. This kit is great fun for all ages, but is recommended for scientists ages 10 and up with adult supervision.

What’s included?

  • 4 sheets of Magenta Heat Sensitive Paper
  • 1 Energy Stick
  • 1 Hand Boiler
  • 2 white carnations
  • 30 Fortune Telling Fish
  • 150 Red UV Color Changing Beads
  • 25 grams of Jelly Marbles
  • 12 pack of Fizzers Coloring Tablets
  • 2 Jumbo Test Tubes with rack
  • 4 oz spray bottle of ammonia
  • 4 oz bottle of phenolphthalein
  • 30 pipe cleaners
  • One pair of Clear Safety Glasses
  • Activity Guide

What does it teach?

The Valentine’s Kit uses different fields of science to capitalize on the Valentine’s Day holiday and make it a scientific learning experience that is fun and engaging.

Ms. Cobb Incorporates Life Lessons Into 7th Grade Math with Slime Day

JoAnna Cobb is a 7th grade math teacher at Bedford Middle School. This is her 10th year of teaching. Ms. Cobb says she “adores mathematics and the way math is involved in every aspect of daily living.”


My mission as a teacher is to instill a love of math and a love of learning in students.  Educational goals following naturally from those interests.  I like to do activities that bring all kinds of disciplines into the math classroom because it incorporates the interests and strengths of students, and it allows the students to see the math all around them.

That is the reason Ms. Cobb uses the slime activity.  The students convert slime recipes using ratios and proportions, make the slime, then observe its properties.  It’s a lot of fun!  It even ends up being an art lesson by the end as they all combine their different colors into tie-dye-looking slime globs.

Ms. Cobb also integrates different activities that involve other disciplines like running (PE/health), geocaching (geography/history), poetry (LA/music), and TONS of art stuff.  She adds, “Heck, it’s hard NOT to incorporate other disciplines!”

This is one teacher who not only gets it home to the dinner table but inspires her students to learn, relate and discover math in all areas of life.


Claims Made on Facebook Can Damage a Teacher's Reputation and Ultimately Hurt Students

We received an alarming call Wednesday morning. A parent in the Tyler, Texas area read a Facebook post from a friend with a shocking claim that his daughter ate some fluffy Insta-Snow and, at the hospital, her blood alcohol level was 2.0.

Click to download Insta-Snow MSDS

The first thought that goes through your mind is about the child’s safety and well-being. We are told by school officials that the child is doing fine, irrespective of the actual cause of the alcohol poisoning. Based on the chemical composition of Insta-Snow, there is no alcohol in this product nor does it break down to produce alcohol as a byproduct in a person’s stomach. In other words, it’s not possible that the cause of the child’s extremely elevated blood alcohol content was from eating a handful of a non-toxic, superabsorbent material commonly found in the lining of a baby diaper. Of course, not all fake snow is made out of the same material. If a doctor contacted Poison Control and requested information about “fake snow,” it’s possible that the results could vary greatly. Some fake snow comes from an aerosol can and is used to decorate windows, for example. Other forms of fake snow are made from ground up pieces of Styrofoam, potato flakes, soap shavings or even the superabsorbent material found in a baby diaper.

It’s important to note that Insta-Snow is not a food and is not meant to be eaten, just like crayons are not meant to be consumed. It is safe to touch, squeeze through your fingers and experiment with as instructed by the activity guide. As with all science related products, adult supervision is required.

For the people who aren’t familiar, Insta-Snow® powder is a substance that absorbs 300-500 times its weight in water. When a small scoop of this powder is added to water, the mixture erupts into a material that looks and feels like snow. The product is commonly used by teachers in classrooms to explore the properties of matter, demonstrate the conservation of mass and to explore the superabsorbent material found in baby diapers.

Insta-Snow® is a non-hazardous material that is a safe for children to use and experiment with adult supervision. Due to the widespread use of this product, Insta-Snow® powder is required annually to pass testing standards, especially when it comes to the use of it in the toy category.

Within hours of that post going up on this person’s Facebook wall, our office was hit hard with calls from people requesting the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet)  product information and testing results on Insta-Snow® powder, and demanding answers. Without question, all of the product safety information was e-mailed to everyone within minutes of the request. The MSDS clearly shows that the product is not considered hazardous. It’s easy to understand why the medical professionals and authorities who contacted our office and received the official product testing documentation immediately came to the same conclusion.

If you have never read a Material Data Safety Sheet, the verbiage can be alarming with regard to first aid measures and or personal protection procedures. For example, the MSDS for ordinary table salt warns consumers to “wear chemical splash googles, chemical-resistant gloves and a chemical-resistant apron” whenever making contact with sodium chloride… or table salt. Statements that warn consumers to “restrict unprotected personnel from the area” or to “start artificial respiration if breathing has stopped” can scare anyone, especially a concerned parent, until you realize that the chemical in question is table salt. Does anyone really wear goggles, gloves and an apron when salting their French fries? Probably not. The lesson here is that an MSDS may advise the most extreme measures for one’s personal protection, but common sense may suggest a different action.

As teachers of science, we have our work cut out for us when it comes to teaching our students, parents and surrounding community members how to think more critically and use basic science facts and problem-solving skills to arrive at well-informed conclusions.

Leopard Reintroduction on a Wildlife Reserve in Malawi, Africa

 By Jody Tilbury, Mud Hut Mama

We are lucky enough to live in a wildlife reserve in Malawi that over the last ten years has been restored, rehabilitated and restocked. More than 2,500 animals have been translocated here and there is a lot of excitement that surrounds animal reintroductions.

The latest relocation was two leopards that were moved from South Africa to Malawi in November 2012. They take the total leopard population in the reserve up to six. The first two arrived in October 2011 and the second two in December 2011. Before that there had been no evidence of leopards in this reserve since the 1990s (however they are still found in other areas of Malawi). The reserve has a great leopard habitat and leopards used to occur here in good numbers but poaching and habitat encroachment drove them away. Now that the reserve is protected by the Malawian Department of National Parks and Wildlife, with support from a conservation project, it is a safe place for these predators and we are thrilled to see them return to the area.

All of the leopards that have been relocated were donated by the South African government and came from a predator rehabilitation center in South Africa. They were removed from their respective homes because they were considered “problem animals,” and since the rehabilitation center does not have the space to keep them indefinitely it searches out viable new homes for them. One of the leopards was living on a game farm and developed a taste for ostriches which the owner didn’t like very much and so had to be removed. Another was living near a tourism lodge and started killing impala on the lawn right outside the lodge so was considered a potential danger if tourists happened to be in its way. All of the leopards have their own story of why they were removed and we are thrilled that we get to share our home with them.

A lot of work goes into moving a leopard across international borders. Once the two most recent arrivals were identified for a move to Malawi the rehabilitation center quarantined them for one month. During this time they were de-wormed, immunized and treated for any illnesses they might have. It is especially important to ensure that leopards that could transmit any feline diseases are not moved to another country.

When it is time to move the leopards, they are first immobilized with drugs administered through a dart gun. While immobilized they are put in crates and sedated for their six hour flight. The sedation helps reduce the stress that the move puts on them and keeps them from injuring themselves. If they were not sedated they would try to get out of their crates and could easily hurt themselves in the process. When they arrived at the reserve they were immediately taken from the airstrip to the leopard boma. This is a purpose-built enclosure to hold them for two to four weeks before they are released into the 70,000 Hectare reserve. The boma is one twelve by twelve meter structure that is divided into two holding areas. It has walls and a roof made out of diamond mesh wire and an electric hot wire that runs around the interior walls. The entire structure is surrounded by another electric fence to keep other wildlife out. The wall separating the two holding areas is also made of diamond mesh wire fencing that is covered with reed mats so that the two leopards can’t see each other, they can however hear and smell each other. They need to be separated in the boma because the fact that they are in an enclosure and in a new place puts them under stress and that stress could cause them to attack each other.

There is a dual gate system for each side of the boma. Initially this is used to get the leopards into the boma. The crate holding the leopard is put in between the two gates and opened when the inner gate is opened and the outer gate is closed so that the leopard can leave the crate and move into its side of the boma without endangering the project staff who stay safely outside the boma. Leopards can be very dangerous animals, especially when they feel threatened or trapped. While the leopards are in the boma they obviously cannot hunt for themselves so the dual gate system is also used to feed them. Fresh meat is placed in the area between the two gates and after the outer gate is closed and secured the inner gate is opened so that the leopard can retrieve its meal. The leopards are fed every three to four days. Each side of the boma also has a resting bay, a watering hole and a climbing tree.


Before the leopards are released they are fitted with tracking collars that contain both a GPS and a radio transmitter. Sometimes they need some encouragement to leave the boma that they have become accustomed to so they are not fed for a couple of days before they are released and a fresh kill is hung in a tree near the boma on the day of their release. The gates are opened and either hunger or freedom or both entice the leopards out.

Leopards blend extremely well into their surroundings and are very difficult to see once they are released into the reserve. The collars send regular GPS waypoints so the park management staff have a good idea of how the leopards are doing without seeing them. It is a good sign to see that the leopards are active and moving and that every few days they stay in the same place for a little while – this usually means they have made a kill and are feeding. If the GPS aspect of the collar malfunctions or if there is no movement for longer than is normal, the radio transmitter in the collar allows project staff to track the leopard on foot. They are also regularly monitored on foot, especially just after release, to make sure there are no problems with the collars and to see the remains of their kills so project staff know what they are eating.

My daughters and I love to go see the leopards when they are in the boma. We look through peepholes cut into the screening surrounding one side of the boma so that we don’t disturb or upset them. We have yet to see any of the released leopards but one morning we did find leopard tracks at the waterhole right in front of our house. Before the relocation we spent a lot of time making leopard crafts and learning about these beautiful felines. Even though they are difficult to see we are so happy to know that they, along with the lions that were also reintroduced in 2012, are here. There is no evidence that cheetah ever occurred in this part of Malawi so all the big cats that historically lived in this area have now been returned to the reserve. We hope their populations will grow to what they once were.




Jody Tilbury is a stay-at-home mom, raising two girls in a wildlife reserve in Malawi. Pre-motherhood she worked with international and environmental education. Jody is homeschooling her daughters and enjoys sharing her love of other cultures, nature and conservation with them. She writes about their adventures at Mud Hut Mama.