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DIY Lava Lamp Tutorial: A Great STEM Activity For A Sick Day

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These fun DIY lava lamps are an easy STEM project that is the perfect sick day activity to do with your kids.

DIY Lava lamps STEM activity for kids

As the weather starts getting cooler we find ourselves in the middle of cold and flu season.  Although as parents there are some things we can do to try to prevent our kids from getting sick we know that they will get exposed to germs at school and everywhere they go so we need to be plan ahead for when they do get sick. And you know that once cold or flu hits anyone in your family you are soon to follow. So it’s important to be prepared when illness strikes and stock up on those things that will help your family feel better. We always have Robitussin® DM Max Strength and Children’s Robitussin®* in our medicine cabinet because with Robitussin® your cough doesn’t stand a chance (Use as Directed)!*

sick child

To prevent loosing your sanity it’s also very important to keep kids entertain on those days when they have to miss school and stay home. We have always enjoyed creating things as a family. We don’t watch much TV around here and the kids don’t have any gaming devices. This leaves a lot of time for creative play and for exploring and discovering.

When my kids are home on a sick day I try to plan fun indoor activities that take their mind off of feeling ill and that are also educational. Because both of my kids love science we decided to try a fun and simple science experiment by creating some DIY lava lamps. This activity is super easy to do, you can probably find everything you need at home and it is a great way to teach kids about basic concepts like liquid density and liquid polarity.

Materials For Making A DIY Lava Lamp

  • Empty water bottle
  • Water
  • Clear oil (baby oil or cooking oil)
  • Food coloring
  • effervescent antiacid tablets (or any other fizzing tablet), you can also use coarse salt but the effect will not be as dramatic

making DIY lava lamps

Instructions For Making Lava Lamps

Step 1

Fill the empty water bottle or other clear container (you can also use a mason jar) up to 2/3 with oil and 1/3 with water leaving a couple of inches at the top. My kids really enjoyed seeing the oil and water separate as we poured it.

making DIY lava lamps

Step 2

Let the mixture rest for a couple of minutes until the water and oil have separated.

Step 3

Add a few drops of food coloring to your oil and water mix. Make sure to use a color that contrasts with the water; dark colors like blue, green and red are better as lighter colors like yellow, orange or pink do not provide enough contrast.

making DIY lava lamps

Step 4

Add the effervescent tablet and watch how the gas carries bright colored bubbles across the oil and to the top of the bottle. You can continue to add tablets to repeat the effect.

making DIY lava lamps

Step 5

To give it more of a true lava lamp effect you can shine a flash light at the bottom of the bottle.

making DIY lava lamps

While we where making our lava lamps the kids learned about the density and polarity of different liquids and how this makes them separate, they also learned about the reaction that the effervescent tablets have when hitting the water producing carbon dioxide gas. The gas bubbles take some of the colored water with them when they rise to the top of the bottle and once the bubbles reach the top and the gas escapes the colored water falls back down.


Make sure you are prepared for cold and flu season and that you have everything you need at home when illness strikes by stocking up on essentials like  Robitussin® DM Max Strength and Children’s Robitussin®* tissues, disinfectant wipes, antibacterial soap and by planning activities to entertain your kids when they are home sick. I always Robitussin® and everything else I need to prepare for cold & flu season at my neighborhood Walmart supermarket.

*Use as directed.

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About the author

Cesar Diaz

Cesar is a freelance graphic designer with more than 15 years of experience in the advertising world. He is the creative force behind GrowingUpBilingual.com and 365thingsswfl.com. 2 year ago he gave up his steady job so he could spend more time at home and be more involved in his kid's lives. He loves sharing tips to maintain a healthier lifestyle both at home and while traveling. He likes to cook low calorie meals with a Latino touch, specially if they are on the grill. He is a techie, a carnivore and a fitness buff not necessarily in that order. During his free time he enjoys mountain biking, working out at the gym, watching movies and traveling with his family.

Permanent link to this article: http://growingupbilingual.com/2016/latino-parenting/diy-lava-lamp-tutorial-entertaining-kids-sick-day/


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  1. Romina Tibytt

    Este definitivamente lo hago con mi hija, le va a encantar!!! Ella ama realizar art & craft! Les quedó precioso!!! Gracias por la recomendación y espero tengamos un saludable invierno para nuestros niños. Muy buenas las fotos 😉
    Romina Tibytt recently posted…5 motivos por los que los viajes cortos juntos a los hijos son importantesMy Profile

  2. Meryland Cuevas

    OMG! Me encanta, yo quiero hacer una de esas lava lamp! soy de esas personas que se queda “mesmerized” mirando como suben lentamente las burbujas dentro del liquido, es hasta relajante 🙂

  3. Gemarla Babilonia-Gaskin

    Muy buena idea! Esta también es una buena actividad para que se relajen después de un día largo. Me gusta también que lo pueden hacer niños de varias edades!

  4. Gilda Campos

    Que bonita idea para los niños. Me encantó!

  5. Stephanie

    This is a great sick day activity for the kids! I love keeping them busy without turning to electronic devices/TV, especially when they are on the mend but not quite ready to head back to the classroom. Thanks for sharing! #client

  6. Sandra Perez-Ramirez

    Este proyecto es sensacional para hacer con los reyes del hogar, gracias por compartir. Asimismo que bueno es contar con productos como Robitussin, son un gran aliado yo lo uso bastante en esta época.

  7. Edith Tapia

    Excelente forma de aprovechar el día cuando los chiquitos están con pocas energías. Quiero hacerlo con mis sobrinos la próxima vez que los visite. 😀

  8. Myrah Duque

    You had me at “Lava”! Wow oh wow! Never thought making a lava lamp would be as easy as you made it! I could just sit there and watch the bubbles.

  9. Wanda Lopez

    My daughters love science too and they will love making their own lava lamp. I can see it now, one will choose blue and the other will make hers green. Great DIY! Thanks for sharing.
    Wanda Lopez recently posted…Canvas Restaurant & MarketMy Profile

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