Harry Potter Potions Class…Or 2 Fun Experiments for Young Kids

The hit of our Harry Potter birthday party for my 6-year-old son was Potions Class.  These two experiments are great for young kids – our guests were ages 3-7.  Most of them hadn’t been exposed to the books yet, and it didn’t matter one bit.

Easy & Cheap Potion Recipe
This recipe was concocted from tips at Harry Potter Birthday Party andWendy’s Soapbox - thank you both!
1. Start with water.  Everyone poured about a cup into his own plasticEyeball Cup. (For a grown-up laugh, tell the kids to watch and see what happens.  Nothing does, of course).
2. Add Pop Rocks (Dollar Tree had multi-packs).  Great, loud crackling sound.
3. Pour in a bit of baking soda.  Nothing happens…yet.
4. Stir with a black spoon.  Ahead of time, I’d added a drop of food coloring to each plastic spoon and let it dry.  Most kids didn’t notice the spots, so they were delighted when their potions changed color.
5. Squeeze in a bit of white vinegar.  We used squirty condiment bottles from Walmart with potions labels attached.  Bubbly, fizzy reaction.

Each child had a full pkg of each ingredient, but my husband (dressed as Professor Snape in this wig) told them to add just a little at a time.  That way, after “class,” they could continue to play and mix (the reactions happen each time).

Steve Spangler’s Geyser Tubes
Normally $5 for a pack that includes the tube and a pack of Mentos, these were in Target’s stocking stuffer section this year for $3.99.  I also bought a 2-liter bottle of diet soda (at least the mess isn’t sticky/sugary) per tube.  Not cheap for a big group, but it’s what the kids were talking about days later (and you can reuse the tubes, which we did on New Year’s Eve).

We lined up 11 bottles with tubes attached and had the kids practice a spell (“Launchus Maximus!”) before pulling their strings on the count of 3.   Telling the kids to take a few steps back works better than telling them to pull (yanking too hard just knocks the bottle over and they have to reset).  But if they don’t all go off at once, it just makes it last longer.

A quick squirt with the hose cleans it up.

Harry Potter Touches
In addition to the Halloween Drink labels from OT that I used for the vinegar bottles, I downloaded these free labels from “12 Easy Ideas for a Wizard-Worthy Harry Potter Birthday Party” at iVillage.  “Blind Cat Eyes” = pearl onions, “Bloodworms” = canned spaghetti, “Gillyweed” = greenery from our yard, “Hippogriff Gizzards” = jarred mushrooms, “Veritas Serum” = water with food coloring, and “Dried Beetles” = Craisins.

Stone Wall Room Roll from Party City, a picture of Snape from Harry Potter Heroes and Villains and the potion recipe on our old Ikea easel all helped turn our garage into a Hogwarts classroom.

“I Wanna Wash My Haaaands!”

These kindergartener-made polar bears are adorable.  But applying paint with marshmallow “stamps?”  Not quite the hit I expected it to be!

The original lesson comes from Kids Artists (tagged for slightly older children) and I adapted it to suit our 30-minute time frame.

My son and 18 of his classmates traced a paper plate with pencil on blue 12-x18 paper for the bear’s face.  Then added half-circle ears.  They used a big marshmallow to add white tempura paint for fur, and a mini-marshmallow to add snow.  Eyes and a mouth were made with a small brush (they were so relieved!) and black tempura paint.

With no time for the white paint to dry, I thought they’d be disappointed in how a big, black painted nose would turn out.  So they stuck on pre-cut noses made from sparkly adhesive-backed foam (love that stuff!).

A few children were interested in making grey, which I showed them individually so they could add depth to the insides of the ears and under the bear’s chin.  But most were desperate to wash their hands!

The biggest hit of this project?  Eating marshmallows once everyone’s hands were clean and reading aloud The Marshmallow Incident.

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