Comparing Bubble Mix

by Deb on September 3, 2010

Making Bubble Mix

Tragedy struck last weekend, we were out of bubble mix.  And what is a science-y family to do when that happens?  That’s right, we didn’t just make our own, we made two different versions and compared them.

I love this bubble mix recipe because it is so simple even the 2 year old can make it on her own.  That simple.

Materials

  • 7 parts water
  • 3 parts detergent
  • 1 part sugar or glycerin.  This stops the bubbles from drying out and popping too quickly, incidentally bubbles work better when the humidity is high for the same reason.

Method

  1. The beauty of the ‘parts’ recipe is that it doesn’t matter what size measure you use, so long as you just use one.  So I gave the girls a container and a spoon each and off we went.  I like using containers with high sides when they are mixing to keep everything in there!
  2. Measure out the water, I got them to scoop it out of a container. Measuring
  3. Measure in the sugar and stir to dissolve it. Mixing
  4. Measure in the detergent and very gently mix it in.  Foam is the enemy of blowing bubbles, it stops it making a nice film on your blower.  This is where we tried something different – we put 5 parts of detergent into the little girl’s solution rather than 3.
  5. Go outside and test them!

Results

It wasn’t quite as easy as the commercial bubbles, but cleaned up better which is a big plus.  The original recipe (I feel like I’m selling chicken) made lots of small or medium sized bubbles, and quite a few were double or triple bubbles which the girls were thrilled about.  The recipe with more detergent in it tended to blow larger bubbles for the same size blower, in fact we got some very big ones out of it!

It was a good exercise to try to get the big girl to describe the bubbles.  She happily said they were different, but when pushed she kept telling me it was because of the different recipes, giving me a why rather than a how.  So I used some ridiculous questions like  ‘Are they square?’ and she got the idea of describing them a bit better, and eventually told me about the size difference.  It was a good reminder to me that just because I can see a difference easily doesn’t mean little kids will – they need to explicitly talk things through to learn about comparison, which is actually quite a complex skill.

Other Ideas

  • Try fiddling around with the recipe in other ways – different amounts of sugar or water or even leaving something out completely.  Or try comparing a brand new batch with one that has aged.
  • Use bubbles to see the wind.
  • Pretend you live inside a bubble and imagine what you would see and what you would do when it pops!
  • Test different styles of bubble blowers.  For beginner blowers I find the ones you actually put in your mouth and blow through the easiest, they don’t have to try to aim!  And the big ones you can wave rather than blowing are a completely different technique for them to try.
  • Blow bubbles around babies for them to watch and try to catch.

This post is part of the We Play linkup at Childhood 101.  Have a look for other great play ideas.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah September 4, 2010 at 12:35 am

Growing up, my mom would always just refill with a squirt of dishsoap, and then fill it up with water.

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katepickle September 4, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Oh now I knew about glycerin in bubble mix but didn’t know you could substitute with sugar! Awesome… I am definitely going to try this out!

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Annie September 6, 2010 at 5:49 am

Same here! I usually have glycerin around but the bubble mix uses a fair bit so I tend to only make it occasionally – being able to use sugar will make it much easier and cheaper and let us do bubbles more often. thanks!

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amandab September 7, 2010 at 12:41 pm

I haven’t had much luck with bubbles before, but I didn’t know about the glycerin/sugar, so will have to try that the next time we run out 🙂

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Marita September 7, 2010 at 8:44 pm

I didn’t know about the sugar either. Great to note.

Heidi’s first word was bubble, so we have lots of bubbles around our place 🙂
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Chapter Forty September 8, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Where can I buy the chicken?

Great information here because it is a major disaster to accidentally spill all the bubble mix. B has often asked me to make more and now I can. Thanks

I totally agree that there is a fine art to getting kids to really describe things and think about differences. I love how you asked the square bubble question.

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Lara from Silk Playground September 9, 2010 at 1:20 pm

What a wonderful post! I am always on the lookout for that perfect bubble mix recipe. Glad to hear that sugar works in place of glycerin. As a family we’ve recently stopped eating sugar, and now I can use up what we have left in the pantry for bubble mixture instead.
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Cathy @ NurtureStore September 10, 2010 at 5:42 am

My girls love blowing bubbles in the bath – and would definitely say the bigger the bubble the better! I wondered if you might come and link up with our Play Academy on Fridays – it would be great to have some science ideas.
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Christie - Childhood 101 September 13, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I love your science-y family comment in the introduction 🙂 Need you to send some of your science-y vibes this way as I am so not scientifically minded!
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