A little milky science in preschool

I have seen many bloggers post this simple activity to try with milk and we finally got the opportunity to try it out in our school…

First, you need to gather some milk, food coloring, cotton swabs, and dish washing liquid. Then begin by pouring the milk into a wide, shallow container.

Next, carefully add drops of food color in strategic places around your dish of milk.

Add the drops carefully so they don’t splatter or splash around the dish.

Once you have added the food color – then dip the end of a cotton swab into the dish liquid.

Then touch the dish liquid covered end of the cotton swab to one of the colors of dots.  We started off with one child going at a time but then we tried letting three children go at the same time because once the soap gets into the milk, the color explosion starts to lose it’s flair!

When the soapy end of the cotton swab hits the food color dot in the milk – it spreads out quickly making the color look like it is exploding out. It is a very cool effect to watch.

Once the initial color explosion occurs, we encouraged the children to use their cotton swab to swirl the colors around some more by gently stirring the colors around.

What you need to know is that the milk provides the color white so you can see the blending of the colors. The food color allows you to see what is happening to the soap when it gets into the milk. This is actually a study of soap more than it is anything else but it makes a great study of color blending. Once the soap starts to spread throughout the milk, which happens quickly, it will no longer give a color burst affect. You have to use new milk to see the color burst happen again.

It is truly simple and fun!

By |2010-11-26T06:00:14+00:00November 26th, 2010|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Ayn Colsh November 26, 2010 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    I’ve been to several conferences and trainings in the last few weeks and this activity has been featured at more than a couple of them. I really must try this in my classroom soon!

  2. Natalie November 27, 2010 at 12:51 am - Reply

    It is a great science project that the children love. I recommend using a clear glass dish so they can see under the surface as well.

  3. artsy_momma November 28, 2010 at 3:42 am - Reply

    What a fun activity! I am saving it to do with my toddler 🙂

  4. Joan Banker March 2, 2011 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    We did this today as part of our unit on the book – Mouse Paint. The children absolutely loved this, and we actually did it over and over again. They even liked the final result – when you mix all the colors together, it turns muddy brown! I also learned a hard lesson – don’t let seven children go wild with the food coloring because it is expensive and they wanted to squirt BIG drops 🙂 Thanks for a terrific idea!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 2, 2011 at 10:35 pm - Reply

      Haha – yes the food color can get expensive when the kids get carried away. We did a lot of mixing too and ended up with lots of muddy brown. We talked about which colors work well together and what happens when we throw them all together:)

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