Children are naturally curious, and science experiments are a great way to learn about the world around them. In this science activity, you can help your child make a greenhouse balloon. Children will learn how greenhouses protect plants from harsh weather and hungry animals. For this activity, you will need the following materials:
- Book: Out and About at the Greenhouse by Bitsy Kemper
- Clear balloon
- ½ cup of dirt (for each child)
- ¼ cup of water (for each child)
- Radish seeds
- Sturdy string or twine
- Plastic cup or bowl (optional)
Steps to Build a Greenhouse Balloon:
1. Place the neck of the balloon over the short end of the funnel. This will allow your child to pour the dirt in with minimal spilling.
2. Have your child the half-cup of dirt into the balloon, slowly and carefully.
3. Have your child pour the water into the balloon to make the soil wet.
4. While the balloon is still on the funnel, have your child drop a few radish seeds down into the balloon.
5. Take the balloon off of the funnel, and blow gently into the balloon to inflate it slightly.
6. Make a knot in the balloon and tie a piece of string or twine to the balloon knot.
7. Hang the balloon somewhere near a window, if possible. If you can’t find a place to hang the balloon, place the balloon in a plastic cup or bowl, with the neck facing up.
8. Explain to your child that the balloon is acting like a greenhouse to protect the radish seeds while they grow. Explain that the warmth of the sun will make the temperature warm in the greenhouse, and because the balloon is tied, the air inside the balloon stays warm, even if the temperature outside gets cool. Discuss how the air inside the balloon turns to water and feeds the radishes so that they can stay healthy and grow.
9. Over the next few days/weeks, observe the balloon and radishes. You can help your child with keeping a journal or chart about the progress of the radishes.
Additionally, you can plant some radish seeds in a plot outdoors and as those seeds grow, you can see their progress in comparison to the radish seeds in the balloon. To culminate the experiment, you could take your child to a local greenhouse to see how a real greenhouse works. When you return home, discuss with your child about what he/she learned by reading the book, making a balloon greenhouse, and going to a real greenhouse. This should be a fun and engaging learning experience for your child and you may even have some tasty radishes within a few weeks.