As the leaves change colors and the crisp autumn air fills the atmosphere, one thing is clear: Halloween is near. In fact, it is here today!
For teachers, this day of the year can be both a thrilling and challenging time in the classroom. How do you keep students engaged and learning while the excitement of costumes and candy fills the air? Sweet are a hallmark of today (and the next several days), so why not turn those sugary delights into an educational adventure? Candy science is the key to combining fun and learning, making Halloween classroom activities unforgettable. In this blog, we’ll explore the wonders of candy science and provide some spooktacular ideas for your Halloween classroom festivities.
NOTE: before implementing any of these ideas, but sure to know your students and any potential food allergies they may have to adjust these plans accordingly.
1. Density (or Dissolution) Delights: see number 7 below
- Materials Needed: A variety of candies (e.g., M&Ms, Skittles, gummy bears), cups, water, and a stopwatch.
- Procedure: Ask students to predict which candy will dissolve the fastest in water. Fill each cup with water and drop different candies into them. Observe and record which candy dissolves the quickest and then plot the results on a graph (e.g., either do it manually or incorporate Excel). You can then discuss the concept of density and how what an object is comprised of relates to dissolution.
2. Colorful Chromatography:
- Materials Needed: Candy with colored shells (like M&Ms or Skittles), filter paper, water, and small cups.
- Procedure: Cut filter paper into strips and place them in cups filled with a small amount of water. Then, place a candy in the center of each strip. Watch as the colors travel up the paper, demonstrating the science of chromatography. This will be a wonderful way to talk about composition of colors as they are broken apart in real time.
3. Gummy Bear Growth:
- Materials Needed: Gummy bears, cups, and various liquids (water, saltwater, vinegar, soda).
- Procedure: Place a gummy bear in different liquids and have students predict what will happen. Over a few days, observe the changes in the gummy bears and discuss concepts like osmosis and diffusion. This idea is a fun one for the whole week! If you are really adventurous, you can tell the class that they can select the gummy bear at the end of the week that you will eat.
4. Candy Bar Fractions: this is a great math activity!
- Materials Needed: Candy bars, a knife, and plates.
- Procedure: Use candy bars to teach fractions by cutting them into different-sized pieces. Ask students to identify and compare fractions, making math deliciously engaging. you can move from more concrete to abstract math by showing the different sizes of candy bars. One-third does not always equal the same length as it depends on the size of that candy bar.
5. Exploding Soda Geysers:
- Materials Needed: Diet soda, Mentos candies, and a large outdoor space.
- Procedure: Create a safe outdoor demonstration by dropping Mentos candies into diet soda bottles. Observe the explosive reaction and discuss the scientific principles behind it, like nucleation. You can have them create a hypothesis of the “explosion” size based on 1 or 2 Mentos and why.
6. Candy Constellations:
- Materials Needed: Various types of candies, toothpicks, and a list of constellations.
- Procedure: Have students create edible constellations using candies as stars and toothpicks as connectors. It’s a fun way to explore astronomy while indulging in a sweet treat. Start simple and then progress to more challenging ones. This is fantastic opportunity for cross-curricular work by infusing social studies into the discussion – how navigation leveraged the starts before the advent of GPS technology.
7. Dissolving Time Capsules: see number 1 above
- Materials Needed: Plastic containers, a variety of candies, and a stopwatch.
- Procedure: Fill plastic containers with different candies and record the time it takes for each candy to dissolve. Discuss why certain candies dissolve faster than others. This also correlates with density.
8. Candy Bar Sorting:
- Materials Needed: Assorted candy bars and a sorting chart with categories like chocolate, caramel, nuts, etc.
- Procedure: Give each student a pile of candy bars and ask them to sort them into the appropriate categories. This activity reinforces classification skills and data organization. You will also be able to teach students about primary classification as some candy bars will have a mixture of several categories. When the groups share out their results, you can have them explain why they chose one that another group placed elsewhere.
9. Lollipop Moments of Science:
- Materials Needed: Lollipops, a stopwatch, ice, and a thermometer.
- Procedure: Measure how long it takes for a lollipop to fully dissolve and discuss the factors that affect the rate of dissolution. You can also explore how temperature affects this process by putting ice in some water or heating it up in a microwave.
10. Candy Chemical Reactions:
- Materials Needed: Baking soda, vinegar, and candy with citric acid (e.g., Sour Patch Kids).
- Procedure: Combine candies with citric acid and baking soda to observe the fizzy chemical reactions. This experiment is an exciting way to teach students about acid-base reactions.
Candy science activities not only make Halloween classroom celebrations more engaging but also foster curiosity and critical thinking. By introducing hands-on experiments, you can turn the sweet temptation of Halloween candies into valuable learning experiences. So, this Halloween, satisfy your students’ sweet tooth and their thirst for knowledge by incorporating these candy science activities into your classroom.
Happy Halloween, and may your classroom be filled with sugary, scientific fun!