Inside: Ready in just five minutes, this fizzy sidewalk paint recipe is a super fun way to spend time outside and learn some science.
Summer is the best time for outdoor science learning and exploration. This fizzy paint recipe is a must-do in our summer list absolutely every year.
My kids LOVE the bubbling eruptions! Who wouldn’t?
And I love that they are movin’ & groovin’ outside, soaking up all that sunshine while jumping up and down from the excitement and learning a ton of science at the same time.
While playing with Fizzy Sidewalk Paint, your kids will:
- Experiment with cause and effect,
- Observe changes that occur in their paintings,
- Explore materials using both fine and gross motor movements,
- Make choices throughout the artistic process, and
- Practice skills that support scientific thinking (i.e., to question, focus, and draw conclusions).
Scroll to the end to see how to turn fizzy sidewalk painting into a fantastic science activity. Before you dive in, it’s worth making a detour to our Free Library of Resources.
Why, you ask?
To download our valuable Fizzy Sidewalk Paint science pack, which will help elevate the experience from simple play to a phenomenal science lesson!
How to Make Fizzy Sidewalk Paint
Disclaimer: The following links are Amazon Associate Links.
What you need
Baking soda – 2 cups
Starch (corn powder, arrowroot, or tapioca flour) – 1 cup (see note below)
Water – 1 cup
Cups for each color (we use this 3-oz size for lots of science activities)
Coloring (we use a stain-free brand) – I used 5 drops for each 3-oz cup
Empty dishwasher liquid container (or Spray bottle for vinegar)
Brushes, sticks, spoons, or anything else for painting the sidewalk
It’s impossible to screw up this activity. As long as you have baking soda, vinegar, and a bit of starch, it will work out.
If you want your mixture to be thinner and easier to spread, add a bit more water. Make it thicker for bumpier art.
We tried tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, and cornstarch and discovered that:
(1) arrowroot helps the paint to be closer to finger paint consistency and easier to spread, and
(2) corn starch creates sticky paint that takes longer for kids to “wash away.” Just to give you a point of reference, with the quantities shown above (2 cups of baking soda to one cup of water and starch) it took my daughter over an hour of “hard work” to “clean up” the sidewalk. And that’s not counting the time creating the art in the first place.
What to do
1. Stir together baking soda (2 cups) and starch (1 cup).
2. Add water (1 cup) and mix.
3. Divide the mixture between the cups, and add 4-5 drops of coloring to each.
4. Paint the sidewalk.
All my kids tried different tools, but pouring the paint from the spoon was definitely the winner.
5. Now the best part: spray the masterpieces with vinegar and observe the fizzing magic.
Dishwashing liquid or spray bottle?
Both work equally well.
The Science of the Experiment
When you mix baking soda with vinegar, you create a chemical reaction that is super fun for kids. This is the same reaction that makes Irish soda bread and buttermilk pancakes rise: an acid plus a base makes bubbles.
But is it a science experiment?
Not really. The purpose of a science experiment is to support or refute a hypothesis. To this effect, scientists worldwide rely on an empirical method of acquiring knowledge, or what is usually referred to as the scientific method.
The basic steps of the scientific method are making an observation, gathering background information, forming a hypothesis, conducting an experiment, and finally analyzing the results.
So, if you want to turn today’s fizzing paint activity into a science experiment, print the Scientific method worksheets HERE or click the image below.
However, if you feel that the scientific method is a bit too intense for the occasion, use a science notebook page instead. It’s a sneaky way of adding a bit of writing practice to a summer day and getting into the habit of gathering and coherently organizing thoughts.
If you want to learn more about the science of baking soda and vinegar, we have a whole post HERE.