Are you looking for a fun and educational outdoor activity for kids? Make a baking soda and vinegar sensory play tub for them to experiment and play with that will keep them engaged for hours!

Baking soda and vinegar reactions are a timeless activity for kids that has spanned generations. 

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We’ve all made exploding vinegar and baking soda volcanoes, right?

While volcanoes are great fun, why not expand the activity into a full baking soda and vinegar sensory play experience?

This fun baking soda and vinegar sensory play tub will give your kids hours of good, messy fun. Plus it’s a very frugal activity since all you really need is baking soda and vinegar!

 

Baking Soda and Vinegar Sensory Bin with images of baking soda and colored vinegar

 

How to Put Together a Baking Soda and Vinegar Sensory Play Tub

 

So there are only 3 major supplies that are MUST HAVES. They are, of course:

And I suggest having a good amount of both on hand to make the activity last as long as your kids want!

So that’s all you have to have, but here’s how to make your baking soda and vinegar sensory tub even more exciting:

 

Roasting pan filled with containers and bowls of baking soda and jars of colored vinegar with droppers for a sensory bin for kids

 

Color the Vinegar:  Grab a some small jars or bowls and add a few drops of food coloring to them. Top with vinegar. Now you have different colored vinegars to explore with!

Droppers: Droppers add a fine motor element to this sensory activity. And they are a great for adding a small amount of vinegar to make small reactions. These are the big, colored droppers we use. 

Various bowls, trays, and containers: Try adding different containers and bowls to your sensory tub. Here are some ideas:

  • A plastic egg carton to combine small amounts of baking soda and vinegar
  • A shallow tray or container to fill with a layer of baking soda to drip colored vinegar into 
  • Small glass bowls
  • A small paint pallet
  • Test tubes for making tiny volcanoes
  • Jars or cups

Basically just raid your cabinet or craft area and see what looks like it might be an interesting addition.

Spoons: You can’t have a sensory tub without spoons or other fun options for transferring! Small spoons are good since it reduces the amount of baking soda that can be added at one time

Pitchers: Try adding a small pitcher of vinegar. It’s a great fine motor skill to pour with precision and it’s a fun addition!

 

kids hands playing with baking soda and vinegar and various droppers, spoons, and bowls

 

Once you have all of your supplies and have set up your baking soda and vinegar sensory play tub, it’s time to hand it over to the kids. 

Before you start let me warn you: This is a messy activity. Your kids will likely spill and get themselves messy and covered in baking soda/vinegar goop. That’s okay and it’s part of the fun!

Because of the potential mess, it’s best to do this activity outside. You want your kids to have the freedom to create and play with this sensory bin however they choose. 

 

How to Play with the Baking Soda and Vinegar Sensory Tub

Really, you can let them have full freedom to explore this sensory tub however they wish, but here are some ideas for gently directing them to see how things work and tips on how to extend the activity. 

Ask questions:

Ask your kids open ended questions that will make them think and experiment to find out the answer. Questions like:

  • Do you get a bigger reaction if you put vinegar in a container first or baking soda in first?
  • What happens if you drop a small drop of colored vinegar into a pan of baking soda? 
  • If you add more vinegar or baking soda after the bubbles die down what happens?

 

boy holding up a test tube of multicolored baking soda and vinegar mixtures

My son kept adding new baking soda and colored vinegar to a test tube to create this multicolored and multilayered mixture!

 

Mix Colors:

Just like in Color Mixing Play Station, you can mix the colored vinegar together to make new colors. 

Add baking soda and see what happens! Then try a new color on top! 

 

Add More As Needed:

The baking soda and vinegar reaction is fairly short lived, and depending on how many kids you have playing and how big they like to play, you might run out of supplies pretty quickly. 

So get more! Refill the vinegar jars and pour in more baking soda and they are ready to go again. 

 

mess after playing with baking soda and vinegar in a large pan

 

Play with What’s Left:

Once all of the baking soda and vinegar has been used and you have cut the kids off from getting any more, the fun’s not over! What’s left is a goopy mixture that is very satisfying and fun to play with!

Let the kids play and explore for as long as they want. They can use all of the tools, cups, jars, spoons, etc to create their own mixtures or use for pretend play. 

 

How Does the Baking Soda and Vinegar Reaction Work?

While, playing with baking soda and vinegar is fun on it’s own, it’s also great to add some discussion into the activity. Ask you kids WHY and HOW  the reaction happens.

In case it’s been awhile since your last chemistry class, here’s what’s going on:

Baking soda is a bicarbonate(or NaHCO3) and it’s a base. Vinegar is an acetic acid (or HCH3COO), which of course is an acid.

When these 2 combine a chemical reaction occurs. As a result of this chemical reaction, carbon dioxide gas is produced. (Here’s a more exact description of what happens during the reaction)

That carbon dioxide gas is what causes the bubbles! 

Follow up the discussion with this fun Acids and Bases Experiment to help kids determine what are acids and what are bases. 

 

Looking for more Baking Soda and Vinegar Activities? Check out the activities below:

7 Baking Soda and Vinegar STEM Activities for Kids

7 Baking Soda and Vinegar Activities for Kids!

 

 

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