Colourful Milk Explosions Activity

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By In The Playroom

I’m a big fan of Kids Activities Blog so I was so excited to hear about the book that Holly and Rachel had put together with 101 activities to keep kids entertained and amused. We’ve loved trying out some of the ideas from the book and today I want to share the colourful milk explosions activity which we tried. This is the first time we did this activity. I am not normally great at doing a lot of science based activities with the boys (it was never my best subject at school!) but this activity is really easy to set up so it was a great way to introduce some fun science into our home. There is a whole section on science activities in the book, and I’m sure it will give me a push to do more on this topic as the activities are all so accessible and fun!

Colourful milk explosions experiment from the book 101 Kids Activities

Affliliate links are included in this post incase you want to buy the book or check which brands of supplies we have used. 

This activity involves exploding colours in a tray of milk or cream. When the boys saw it in the book (101 Kids Activities that are the Bestest, Funnest, Ever!)  they were really keen to give it a try!

101 kids activities book - milk explosions activityThis experiment works because the fat in the milk (or cream if you prefer to use that) traps the colour, then once you break the tension with washing up liquid the colour is free to spread or “explode”

You will need:

  • Full fat milk, or cream
  • A tray
  • Cotton buds or tooth picks
  • Washing up liquid / dish soap
  • Food colouring (or liquid watercolours)
  • Card if you wish to print

ingredients for the milk explosion experimentWe first used gel food colouring, which worked okay but then we tried liquid watercolours which gave much more vibrant results. I think liquid food colouring may work better than gel, but we couldn’t find this in the supermarket! We also tried with cream and then full fat milk to see what differences the boys could observe.

milk3The boys started out by dropping a few drops of the food colouring into the milk.

Then dipped the cotton buds into the washing up liquid, and then into the milk in a place where there was some colour. The tension of the milk fat was dissolved and the colours were free to mix and spread!

milkblueWe tried this with one colour at a time, and also with a few colours to mix together.

milkswirlThe colours with gel food colouring were not extremely bright (still pretty though!) but the activity was still so fun for the boys, especially as it was the first time they had tried this out and I let them pretty much have complete control over what they wanted to do with it.

milkmrzWe also took prints by lightly dipping card or paper into the tray so the colours could be preserved. This aspect of the activity worked much much better with the liquid watercolours.

We also tried doing the experiment directly on cardboard. We used paper plates as that’s what we had to hand. If using these, it works better if you place the plate upside down and use the back of it, otherwise the milk tends to run down and pool at the sides of the plate when using it the right way round.

milkliquidwatercolouHere are the liquid water colours in cream on the paper plate. Pretty boring looking – until you add the washing up liquid and then wow, it was very colourful!

milkliquidwatercoloThe colours spreading and swirling together is so pretty and the boys loved creating these effects. By choosing different colour combinations you could create all kinds of designs, like a galaxy or an ocean, or whatever ideas your kids can think up!

milkpaperplateWe tried printing this onto paper, which worked fine even though it’s quite wet. You can also use card stock and once the print dries then you can use it as a base for more artwork.

milkcomrzThis is one of the plates and the prints. I am not sure how long the print will last considering it has milk or cream on it, I will have to ask the mums of Kids Activities Blog over on their Facebook page since they are the experts!

This activity and 100 more are available in the 101 Kids Activities book. It’s a great resource, and the cool thing is that it’s easy for the kids to browse through and pick something interesting to try, which puts the choice more into their hands. I’m sure we will keep returning to the book many times and it should last us for years! I also bought a copy for one of my best friends who’s son just turned two. There are activities in the book suitable from all the way from that age right up to older children, as modifications are given for older and younger on most of the activities.

101 kids activities that are the bestest funnest ever book coverIf you get the book, let me know which activities you try out. I would love to see pictures!


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Anna Marikar, mum of four and seasoned blogger, has spent over a decade sharing her parenting journey and passion for kid-friendly crafts and free printables.
Her easy-to-follow craft ideas and practical parenting advice have transformed In The Playroom into a cherished resource for parents.

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