Play with Your Food: Fun With Learning

Play with Your Food: Fun With Learning

Hands-on crafts are a great way to educate kids. Here are six ideas they’ll love.

By: Helen Jane Hearn

When kids get restless during the long winters, it won’t be long before you hear, “Mom, I’m bored!” While there are hundreds of crafts both fun and educational for kids, it’s helpful to put a select few into your season’s schedule. Through these activities, you can bring learning, fun and cold-weather entertainment together in one sitting.

1. The Stars or DNA
Recreate your favourite constellations with mini marshmallows and various sizes of dry spaghetti. From Orion (or just the hunter’s belt) to the Little Dipper, you can use teach your kids about planets, stars and maybe even elementary physics!

If your child is learning about DNA, introduce liquorice to the mix to show how the double helix looks in three dimensions.

2. Sinking Snacks
Marshmallows are also great to demonstrate density. Sure, this might bring you back to your days as a student, but you can use snacks to show how shape, density and surface area affects the buoyancy of objects when in liquid.

Gummy bears
Seltzer water or club soda in a tall, clear container
Tap water in a tall, clear container


  1. Fill one container with carbonated water and one with tap water
  2. Set out your marshmallows, raisins and gummy bears
  3. Now place each item in both the tap water and the carbonated water to see if they float or sink
  4. Try squishing up the marshmallows before inserting them and see how that affects buoyancy

3. Crazy Colours
While this may seem to be more of an art project, this experiment can help teach your kids how their favourite colours are made.

Water in a cup or bowl
Paper towels, cut into strips
Markers in non-primary colours (ex: orange, green, purple, black, brown)


  1. About 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) from the bottom of each paper towel strip, draw wavy or straight lines with the markers
  2. Dip each strip into the water so the edge of paper towel gets wet, but not the ink (on the exposed inch of paper towel)
  3. Hold the strip place and let the paper absorb the water
  4. The ink will spread, showing the different dyes that make up each colour

4. Tie-dye Milk
Create your own tie-dyed masterpiece in a bowl of milk with this experiment.

250 millilitres (1 cup) whole milk
4 different food colourings
Dishwashing soap
A medium-sized bowl



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  1. Pour the milk into the bowl
  2. Put one drop of each of the food colourings into the milk (keep the drops close together)
  3. Add a drop of dish soap to the bowl and watch the colours swirl!

5. Glitter Bottle
This is like a snow globe times 10. Using liquids that don’t mix together, you can create a fun, seemingly out-of-this-world experiment.

Empty water bottle with a leakproof cap
Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
Vegetable oil
Light shiny items like small beads, glitter or sequins


  1. Have an adult fill the bottle 1/4 way with rubbing alcohol
  2. Pour the vegetable oil into the bottle up to an inch from the top
  3. After the oil settles, drop shiny items into the bottle
  4. Add more vegetable oil until the bottle is completely full, then screw the lid on tight and shake

These crafts and projects both entertain and educate through basic science and hands-on crafting. These activities can help keep your kids occupied, exercise your creativity and most importantly have fun!

Helen has written about Internet culture and home entertaining at her eponymous site Helen Jane since 1998. Napa Valley-based, she is a certified specialist of wine and founder of Cheesewhizzes, a nationwide cheese-tasting club. She also captains her bocce team, Joanie Loves Bocce.

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