Kids’ STEAM Activities that You Can Do With Things from the Pantry

updated Mar 9, 2022
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young girl conducting STEAM experiment

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Thanks to their natural curiosity, children are basically mini-scientists, constantly tinkering, observing, and creating. Exploring STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) methods through hands-on learning allows them to discover different concepts, while also having a lot of fun.

For nearly every birthday and holiday, when asked what they would like, our kids always request different versions of STEAM kits, depending on where their interests lie at that moment. We’ve been entertained by candy science, recreated a veterinary lab, attempted some robot programming, and broken open a large amount of geodes.

You’ll find a barrage of pre-packaged sets and subscription plans, all marketed to promote interactive learning at home. But really there’s nothing new about DIY experiments; families have been mixing (safe, non-toxic) household ingredients and watching reactions for years. Soda bottle rockets and homemade volcanoes, anyone? 

Inspired by the wide variety of online tutorials, we have discovered that you can easily make your own STEAM projects by utilizing a variety of items already on hand, and nearly every ingredient can be found in the kitchen. 

Here are some of our favorites: 

Bouncy Egg Experiment

Ingredients needed: vinegar, eggs, glass or jar.

This is such a fun, easy experiment, and appropriate for kids ages 3 and up. If you follow the video, you may need to sacrifice an egg or two for the sake of authenticity (spoiler: raw eggs do not bounce). With only three ingredients and zero mess to clean up, the resulting rubbery egg is best tested outside, in case anyone is overly enthusiastic about their bouncing.

See the full experiment at Cool Science Experiments HQ >

Rainbow Wizard’s Brew 

Ingredients needed: baking soda, food coloring, dish soap, vinegar, glass jar, plastic containers, glitter (optional)

There’s nothing better than watching the fantastic fizziness of vinegar plus baking soda, and wizard’s brew takes it a step further by adding foam, color, and glitter. Perfect for the preschool set, this experiment is simple to put together and kids will love stirring up the bubbling potion.

See the full experiment at Raising Smart Girls >

Milk Plastic 

Ingredients needed: milk (not full-fat), white vinegar or lemon juice, bowl, spoon, strainer, paper towel, molds

This experiment is ideal for kids who love to combine science and art, as the milk plastic results can be used for a variety of crafts. It does involve heat, as well as some patience, so best for those age 6 and older. We tried creating a few shapes with molds, but ended up preferring to roll it out dough-style and use cookie cutters. Once dry, the pieces held their shape and looked great with some acrylic paint designs.

See the full experiment at Steam Powered Family >

Weather in a Jar

Ingredients needed: depends on the experiment, but all require a jar with a lid.

Using a variety of items, such as shaving cream, food coloring, and ice, there are six different experiments to try. Geared towards ages 4 and up, families can discuss different types of weather, what precipitation is, then create their own rain, tornados or snow in a jar.

See the full experiment at Left Brain Craft Brain >

Ice Cream in a Bag

Ingredients needed: half & half, vanilla, sugar, ice, salt, gallon and quart sized zip lock bags. Optional toppings such as sprinkles, chocolate chips, chocolate or strawberry syrup, etc.

Science is always extra fun when it’s edible, and ice cream in a bag is a delicious way to learn about chemical reactions. This experiment is a hit for ages 3 to adult, as smaller hands can help add ingredients to the bag and bigger hands can handle the vigorous shaking required to create the right consistency. 

See the full experiment at Little Bins Big Hands >