We’ve all been through a lot this past year. With summer upon us, our bag of tricks to keep kids occupied can be running low. So, when life hands you lemons, as the saying goes, make lemonade. You can do a lot with a simple bag of lemons and get your kids involved too!
We all get used to taking our water bottle with us during the school year, but often in summer, we reach for colder drinks from the fridge. It seems like during summer, we stock our refrigerators with extra sodas or sports drinks to help us cool down. We know water is the best choice, but it’s hard to turn away from those tasty drinks. Your family can switch off the sugary drinks and go for more water with a simple hack that your kids will love. Simply add different fruits and even veggies to your water, then keep that cold in the fridge. Your kids will get a kick out of coming up with different combinations of flavors. Experiment to find out which is a family favorite. You may be surprised to find that not only is the flavored water so refreshing, but your family may even prefer their water recipes over other beverages. The pitcher of water shown has cucumber, lemons and blueberries. Use the daily water pitcher to fill up everyone’s water bottles and refill the water pitcher, keeping it cold for refills.
Once you get in the healthy water habit, you may find yourself with a bag of lemons on hand. Here are some more fun activities to do with your kids, using lemons.
Did you know you can make a battery out of lemons using simple household items? A lemon battery has very low voltage, however, adult supervision is still required. Scientific American offers a step-by-step tutorial on creating a lemon battery. The simple ingredients include some copper pennies, aluminum foil, two plastic-coated paperclips, and other common household items. This tutorial is great because it provides prompts for questioning and understanding the science while providing an explanation of how the lemon (or citrus battery) works.
Think back, did you make invisible ink messages using lemons when you were a kid? It’s really simple and fun. Use some lemon juice and a small amount of water, then mix together. Using a cotton swab or a paintbrush, dip into the lemon/water mixture to write a message on plain white paper. Leave the secret message to dry. Later, hold the paper up to a lightbulb to reveal the secret message. Once again, Scientific American explains the science for us, in a way that is easy to relate to our kids. Lemon juice contains carbon compounds. The heat from a light bulb will break down these carbon compounds, causing oxidation which allows the secret message to be revealed.
Lemons Instead of Vinegar
Lemon juice can be used in place of vinegar for many experiments. Lemons will also react with baking soda in the same manner as vinegar. You may decide to clean your pennies for the Lemon Battery experiment first, by using lemon juice. Our friends at Scientific American also offer a tutorial on the chemical reactions taking place using items like lemon juice in shining pennies. Better yet, use that chemical reaction lesson and shine your copper bottom pans using lemon juice and salt. Use cut lemons dipped in salt to scrub the pans or use a cloth dipped in lemon juice and salt mixture to shine those copper bottom pans. You and your kids will be surprised to see the citric acid at work, cleaning the build-up on the pans. A fun way to get a job done!
Who knows, maybe one of your lemon experiments will be repeated and serve as a science project during the school year. How nice would that be to have some science project upheaval removed from your To-Do list!
Talk about turning lemons into lemonade! Enjoy!
Debbie Bourgois, MS, is an adjunct college instructor, a K-12 substitute teacher and a mom of two grown children who are twelve years apart! She has worked with kids of all ages for a very long time and loves to find fun and interesting ways to help develop lifelong learners.
A note from ThinkFun
At ThinkFun, we love it when learning and fun collide. It’s why we do what we do. Every game, puzzle and brainteaser we create is aimed at igniting a spark in a young mind. Still curious? Check us out on the web, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube or Instagram.