B is for Big Bang | Projects for Little Hands

We had so much fun working on the B is for Big Bang unit! Here are some of the fun projects referenced in the thematic unit for you to try at home!

Also, totally by coincidence, I realized the B alliteration continues with these activities – bottle, balloon, bin, and bread (sorry, atom)!

Please note that some of the links included in my unit plans are affiliate links. That means that if you follow the link and purchase something, I earn a small commission for my recommendation. This support helps keep my resources free and is much appreciated!


Universe in a Bottle

Preparing For This Activity

What You’ll Need:

  • A water bottle or other clear container that can be sealed
  • Water
  • Glitter glue
  • Loose glitter
  • Goo Gone (to remove any sticky residue on your container, optional)
  • Any other metallic objects you may want to add (optional)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Cotton balls (optional)
  • Mixing bowl and funnel (optional)

Before You Start:

Gather your materials and make sure you have everything ready to go. Remove any labels and remove residue with Goo Gone before you get going!

Making Your Universe

This is a really simple construction project. Simply fill the bottle with hot water and dissolve glitter glue to make a sparkly solution. Add loose glitter, food coloring, or other materials as you see fit, to make your universe work for you!  You can also opt to tear apart some cotton balls to make “gaseous clouds” in your universe.

I have found that it’s easier to mix the ingredients (except the cotton balls, if you opt to use them) outside of the bottle. However, a glittery gluey spill is not fun, so if you mix in a bowl, plan to use a funnel to get the mixture inside the bottle.

Activities With Your Universe

First and foremost, this is just fun to play with. You can let your little scientist just explore it and call this activity done.

Or you can go one step further and use it as a Big Bang demonstration. Let all of the glitter and contents settle to the bottom to represent singularity. Then begin to shake it vigorously, representing the time immediately following the Big Bang when the universe was expanding and full of energy. Then, let it rest. The objects/glitter will slow down, representing more of the current universe.


Big Bang Balloon Lab

Preparing For This Activity

What You’ll Need:

  • A balloon
  • A marker
  • A piece of string

Before You Start:

The set up for this activity is quick and easy. Simply inflate your balloon slightly. Use a marker to make a few dots or swirls around the balloon. Then, let the air out. You’re ready to begin!

Demonstrating the Big Bang

Explain that the balloon represents the universe. Before you begin blowing it up, the balloon represents singularity. All of the “stuff” is still there on the balloon, the balloon is the same mass, but it doesn’t take up as much space.

Then, slowly start to inflate the balloon. Ask your little scientists what they notice. The balloon itself still has the same mass and nothing has been added, but it’s starting to look very different.

Inflate it slightly more. Again, same mass, but it’s now getting bigger. The dots or swirls that represent the galaxies are further apart. They might even look like a slightly different shape. At this point, you might want to use a piece of string to measure the distance of the “galaxies” with your little scientist, so they can see the size increasing concretely.

Continue inflating the balloon as much as you want to make the point and continue the fun!

 


Universe Sensory Bin

Making Your Sensory Bin

I’m going to be honest, there are a million ways to make these sensory bins. If you head to Pinterest and search for sensory bins, you’ll find lots and lots of options. So, instead of telling you how to make the exact same bin that we made, I’m going to give you some suggestions to mix and match for your own perfect sensory bin.

As you browse my suggestions, keep your own little scientist’s exploration methods in mind, especially if they like to explore with their mouths. Some of these materials can be choking hazards, so always use your parental discretion and supervise this activity!

Open Space

You’ll want something dark as your base for wide open space. Black beans, coffee beans, coffee grounds, or black aquarium gravel can all be good options for this. You could even mix multiple ingredients together.

Stars & Planets

You can use glitter, small and large beads, small star confetti, marbles, small balls, cut-out clip-art, or even cut up yellow paper to represent these celestial bodies!

 Galaxies

If you want to mimic some galaxies and floating clouds of dust/gas, you could dip some shredded cotton ball bits into paint/glitter and add them to the sensory bin for even more textures!

Rockets & Satellites

There are a bunch of different options here, with the most basic being printing out pictures from the internet. For a bit more extended play, you could also consider a play set like this 15-piece Mission to Mars Space Shuttle Play Set or even a building set like this Lego City Space Starter Set that will provide a whole second activity to build!

Extension Activities

If you’re looking for some extra letter practice, check out this activity with glow stars and letters!


Cosmic Inflation Bread Project

Preparing For This Activity

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 6 cups of flour
  • 1/3 cups of white sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons of salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons of yeast
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1/2-1 cup of raisins or chocolate chips
  • Alternatively, buy a prepackaged bread mix!
  • 2 bread pans
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • Plastic wrap
  • Butter (to grease resting bowl and bread pans)

Before You Start:

I highly recommend organizing your ingredients before inviting your preschooler into the kitchen. When it comes to a potentially messy project like this, I find it helpful to get myself situated first.

Then, make sure everyone does a thorough hand washing. You will all be getting very touchy feely with this edible project! Let’s not turn this into a different kind of science experiment, right?

Making Your Bread

If you’re making your bread from a prepackaged mix, just skim the directions for when we make connections between the bread and universe! Make sure to add your raisins or chocolate chips into the mixture still!

Now, to make your dough from scratch. Mix your 2 cups of warm water and 1/3 cup of white sugar together in a bowl. (Note: this entire thing will be easier with a stand mixer, but it’s totally achievable with a little extra muscle and either a hand mixer or your hands!) Sprinkle your 1.5 tablespoons of yeast over the top and let it dissolve into the mixture for about 10 minutes (this is a great time to watch a video or read a book from this post!). Add your 1.5 teaspoons of salt, 1/4 cup of oil, and 3 cups of flour and mix it together well (this is a good step for little hands to take the lead!). Once it’s mixed well, add the other 3 cups of flour and chocolate chips or raisins.

Now, it’s time for some aggression to get it all combined. You’ll know it’s done when your dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. If you have a dough hook for your stand mixer, this would be the time to use it. Once it’s well mixed, flour your countertop (that’s clean!) and knead your dough. This is another great time for the kids to get involved. This is a good time to start drawing comparisons to the dough and “singularity” before the Big Bang. While they’re kneading, grease a bowl for your dough to rest in.

When the dough is finished, place it in your greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Ask them to make a hypothesis (guess) about what’s going to happen to the dough while it rests. Will it change size or shape? Bigger, smaller, the same? Will the chocolate chips/raisins still be in the same place, further apart, or closer together? Then, let the dough rest for an hour, checking on it every 10-15 minutes. As you check in on your dough, ask them to evaluate their hypothesis. Is the dough doing what they expected? What is happening to the add-ins? You can also begin to explain that this is kind of like what happened during cosmic inflation. There was a tremendous amount of heat and movement that caused singularity expand exponentially outward. All of the different “ingredients” mixed together to form matter and took different forms throughout the process.

When your dough has rested for an hour, remove the cover and punch down the dough, before moving it back to your floured counter. Cut your dough in half and roll out into rectangles. Roll those dough rectangles up into greased bread pans and let them rest again until they’ve doubled in size (less than an hour this time!). You can explain that the universe continues to expand, just like the dough, and that the objects in the universe continue to move apart (represented by the add-ins). (Note: You could also break your dough into two separate bowls before letting it rest the first time and do an extended experiment, perhaps leaving one to rest somewhere cool and one somewhere warm, or anything else you can dream up!)

As your dough nears doubling in size, preheat your oven to 350F. Make sure your preschooler knows that the oven is hot and use precautions to keep everyone safe! Bake your bread for 25-30 minutes, until you can tap and it sounds hollow. Let it cool before letting little hands touch it! You could continue to draw comparisons, by explaining how the bread is baking and changing forms with heat, or how the bread itself has spread out, creating holes inside the bread, like dark matter in the universe, or even how the universe and bread were both hot, but then cooled off into something we humans can enjoy!


DIY Atoms of the Early Universe

Preparing For This Activity

What You’ll Need:

  • Three paper plates (or circles cut out of paper)
  • Marker
  • Glue
  • Pom poms

Before You Start:

If you plan to do the accompanying math activity, you can have your little scientist do some of the pom pom sorting for you, but you’ll still need to presort out 18 pom poms, in different colored sets of 6. I suggest using red, yellow, and blue to keep the colors different enough for the sorting and imagery to be really effective and clear!

Making Your Atoms

You get to the be universe! It’s time to make atoms! This activity will yield three “atoms”, for the first three elements of the universe – hydrogen, lithium, and helium. Of course, you can make any atoms you want too!

You can choose to do this activity two ways – completing each atom individually or working on them all together. Whichever way makes the most sense for your learner.

Hydrogen Atom

Have your little scientist draw one large circle around the outside of the plate to represent the electron’s orbit.

Then, glue one proton (red pom pom) in the center of the paper plate (the nucleus). Glue one electron (blue pom pom) to the orbital path. And you have a hydrogen atom!

Helium Atom

Repeat the same steps, but this time, your little scientist will glue two protons (red pom poms) and two neutrons (yellow pom poms) in the center to form the nucleus, and two electrons (blue pom poms) to the orbital path. You have helium!

Lithium Atom

Repeat the same steps, but this time, your little scientist will draw two circles around the outside of the plate to represent the electrons’ orbit. Then, they’ll glue three protons (red pom poms) and four neutrons (yellow pom poms) in the nucleus and three electrons (blue pom poms) to the orbital path. You have lithium!

 


Have any other fun activities to suggest? Questions? Leave me a comment!

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