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18 Science Activities for Mother's Day

Combine crafty ideas for Mother's Day with STEM for creative gifts moms will love. With a few simple materials, kids can do one of these science activities to make something thoughtful or unique to give mom or another special person.

Three photos from the 18 science activities highlighed that kids can make and give with Mother's Day in mind: marbled art, paper mobile, and homemade ice cream in a bag

STEM Activities to Make or Do and Give!

Whether made surreptitiously at home or made in the classroom and set aside to take home, Mother's Day is often marked with "I made this" gifts for kids to proudly present to Mom or another special person. These homemade gifts may be simple, but they are special because of the thought behind them. When Mom doesn't have to do anything to organize, orchestrate, or facilitate the craft or treat making, even better! The activities below combine creativity, science, and engineering for STEM gifts kids can make in the classroom or at home with Mother's Day in mind.

Creative STEM Activities for Mom or Someone Special

  1. 1. Family Fingerprint Cards

    Are Fingerprint Patterns Inherited?: Colorful fingerprint art is a fun way to make a unique greeting. As they get their fingers inky to make their fingerprint scenes, kids can also learn about the science of fingerprints and examine their prints (and the prints of siblings, classmates, or others) to see the different patterns. Informally, it might be fun to see how many classmates have prints with loops, whorls, or arches. For families doing this at home, how many members share similar patterns? (Tip! There are lots of great inspiration sources for using fingerprints in children's art, like this book by Ed Emberley. If Mom won't mind getting inky, build in a space for her fingerprint to complete the card.)

    Card made with child's fingerprints

  2. 2. Light-up Cards

    Make a Paper Circuit: With copper tape, a coin cell battery, and an LED, kids can make special cards that light up when something is pressed (to close the circuit). These one-of-a-kind cards are sure to impress the recipient and are a fun, tactile way to learn about basic circuits. (Tip! In the sample shown, when the circuit is closed, the four candles on the cake light up. To get started, try a design with just one LED.)

    Paper circuit light-up greeting card with copper tape

  3. 3. Secret Message Cards

    Secret Messages With Invisible Ink!: For a clever card, try writing the message using invisible ink! Make sure some decoding solution is on hand so Mom can reveal the secret message once you convince her you didn't just give her a blank card! (Tip! This activity is great for families that enjoy puzzles and games. The secret message might even be used to direct Mom to another location where a gift has been stashed. Or maybe the secret message lets her know about special dinner plans. For another approach to making a puzzle-style card, try a note written using a Caesar cipher. Just make sure you provide the key (the shift number)!)

    Write Secret Messages With Invisible Ink!

  4. 4. Fizzy Bath Bombs

    Making Homemade Bath Bombs: Making bath bombs is a great way to learn about chemical reactions and create something relaxing, fragrant, and perfectly fizzy to give as a gift. (Kit available! For students wanting to experiment with bath bombs for a science project, check out this convenient kit.)

    Three seashell-shaped bath bombs, homemade

  5. 5. Marbled Art Cards

    Make Marbled Cards Using Science: Use shaving cream and food coloring to make groovy cards or art to hang on the refrigerator door or wall. Maybe Mother's Day even warrants a small frame! This family turned marbled art cards into a fun family STEM adventure and made awesome art cards at home! (Tip! Spice things up by trying a white crayon wax resist on the card before making the colorful print.)

    Card made from paper marbling with shaving cream and food coloring

    Paper Marbling – STEM Activity

  6. 6. Technicolor Flowers

    Suck It Up! How Water Moves Through Plants: Turn ordinary white flowers into an extra-colorful bouquet with this classic science experiment—and observe capillary action at the same time! What crazy color combinations can you create for the most out-of-this-world vase of flowers?

    White carnations that have been died blue and pink through science activity

  7. 7. Backyard Bird Feeder

    Build a Bird Feeder to Study Birds: Give a gift of backyard bird watching with a homemade bird feeder made from a recycled plastic jug. Kids can decorate their feeders to make them special (or to make them blend into the natural environment) for a one-of-a-kind gift mom won't have to find a place for inside. (Tip! This idea is great for nature-loving families that value functional giving.)

    Build a Bird Feeder to Study Birds – STEM activity

  8. 8. Milk Plastic Beads

    Turn Milk into Plastic: Make special beads or small sculptures from milk plastic created from milk and vinegar. (Tip! Carefully poke holes in beads before they harden, so they can be strung on a cord or threaded on ribbon for a unique bookmark.)

    Turn Milk Into Plastic!

  9. 9. A Flip-Book Story

    Tell a Story with a Flip-Book: All you need are index cards (or cardstock cut to size) and markers or crayons to animate a simple story with a homemade flip-book. This is a great way for young artists and storytellers to illustrate a special message as a gift.

    Explore Flipbooks

  10. 10. Family Portraits Mobile

    Make a Mobile: A homemade mobile is a great way to explore forces and balance. Choose pictures on a favorite theme (e.g., like rainbows or dragons) or use (or draw) family pictures for a one-of-a-kind keepsake!

    Kid attaching colorful drawings to an art mobile

    Build a Mobile Sculpture – STEM activity

  11. 11. Spinning Thaumatrope

    Make Your Own Thaumatrope: For something simple but unique, make a thaumatrope! Mom will be charmed by seeing kid art on this simple retro handheld toy that creates the appearance of a cartoon-like animation when it spins.

    The First Cartoon: Make Your Own Thaumatrope!

  12. 12. Tie-Dye T-shirts

    Make Tie-Dye T-shirts with Permanent Markers: With isopropyl alcohol and permanent markers, kids can use this simple method to make colorful, custom clothing or fabric! (Note: You can use this method with other clothing items, including shoes. You'll need to experiment to see what works with specific fabrics, but marker tie-dye isn't limited to t-shirts.)

    Marker tie-dye on fabric over a jar opening

Desserts, Tasty Treats, and Edible Gifts

Breakfast in bed, coffee from a local shop (if Mom is a coffee drinker), pastries, donuts, or just a day with no kitchen duties can be a much-appreciated and special gift. If you want to head to the kitchen to make treats for Mother's Day, these ideas are all simple to do but easy to customize and yield tasty results! Most of these ideas need to be made the day they will be eaten, so they take a bit of planning and buy-in from another adult (parent, grandparent, older sibling, etc.) who can help with buying ingredients, will be on hand during the making, and will handle clean-up. (We don't advise making Mom special treats for Mother's Day that result in a messy kitchen she needs to clean up!)

  1. 13. Ice Cream in a Bag

    Make Ice Cream in a Bag: If ice cream is popular in the house, then ice cream in a bag is a great way for kids to "shake" up a special treat. Homemade ice cream doesn't have to be plain or boring! When one of our team did this at home, she and her kids had fun making ice cream flavors designed to be like their favorite, fancy, "gourmet" versions!

    Bowl of homemade ice cream made in a bag

  2. 14. Bubble Tea

    Make Popping Boba: If your family likes milk tea or bubble tea, try making popping boba at home in a favorite flavor! You can make edible balls of semi-solid food using a variety of chemical reactions for a tasty food science experiment. The video below goes along with the Transform Drinks Into Semi-Solid Juice Balls That Pop in Your Mouth project. You can find directions for two other methods in these activities: Gelatin Pearls and Make Boba for Bubble Tea. It might take some practice to get nicely rounded spheres, but you'll all have fun with the process! Get inspired! See how this family experimented with molecular gastronomy to make juice balls.

    How to Make Popping Boba: The Science of Spherification

  3. 15. Make Homemade Slushies

    Homemade Slushies: Bring on favorite flavors and the retro vibe of flavored shaved ice or trips to the corner store for an ICEE by mixing up slushies at home! These slushies are made with fruit juice and ice, so make sure Mom's favorite juice is on hand.

    Make a Slushy! Yummy STEM Project

  4. 16. Homemade Rock Candy

    Grow Rock Candy Crystals: The crystals will need a few days to form, but at the end of this experiment, everyone will be able to sample a sweet homemade treat.

    How to Make Great Rock Candy – STEM activity

  5. 17. Baked Ice Cream Surprise!

    Bake Your Ice Cream: For a special and unusual treat, try baked ice cream. Right, this doesn't sound possible, but this activity guides the baking of a cake that has ice cream inside. Once the cake comes out, the ice cream is still.... ice cream. This is a dessert everyone will marvel over!

    Inside look at baked ice cream in a cake

  6. 18. Make Rainbow Candy

    Rainbow Candy: This rainbow candy makes a unique and colorful treat! The candy doesn't rely on food coloring. Instead, you'll use a diffraction grating sheet and the science of light to create rainbow patterns on the surface of the candy. (Lollipops sticks are optional.) For more fun rainbow-themed STEM ideas, see: 7 Rainbow Experiments for Science Class and Radiant Rainbows (Awesome Summer Science Experiments).

    DIY Rainbow Candy

No matter what activity you choose, we hope you enjoy making something unique to celebrate someone special in your life.

Making Science Fun

There are all kinds of holidays celebrated throughout the year, including pop culture-inspired days like Star Wars Day and Mario Day. With a little bit of planning and creative thinking, special days on the calendar can often be connected to science inquiry for unexpected classroom or family fun.

Bookmark the STEM Calendar to make connections in science class all year long!




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