Elephant Toothpaste Activity
Inspire scientific inquiry and discovery with the Elephant Toothpaste Activity. This sensory science experiment is a safe and fun way for teachers to introduce children four years and up to chemical and physical science within small group settings. Children will be fascinated with how to make elephant toothpaste and why the thick foam oozes out of the soda bottle. The result is similar to toothpaste being squeezed out of a large tube—hence the name elephant toothpaste.
How does elephant toothpaste work?
Concentrated hydrogen peroxide is comprised of water (H2O) and oxygen (O2). Yeast includes a catalase, which is an enzyme that accelerates the decomposition of the hydrogen peroxide. When mixed with the dish soap, it creates an overflowing rush of warm foam bubbles. This change in temperature is a result of exothermic reaction, which is the effect of energy being released in the form of heat. Children will notice the warmth of the mixture as they touch, feel, and explore.
Why is early childhood science education important?
Early childhood educators should include science activities to provide opportunities for hands-on experiences through exploration. By providing these opportunities, young children will be encouraged to think critically and to ask questions, while learning science concepts, such as the scientific method. Teachers can include this method of inquiry to prompt young learners to investigate the how, why, what if, and I wonder type of questions in the context of this experiment.
Follow these six steps of the scientific method for preschoolers:
What are the children curious about?
What do they think will happen if they investigate their curiosities?
What steps should they take to try out their ideas?
Try out their thoughts and ideas.
How could they change the process to create a different outcome?
Talk about the children's new ideas and what they have learned.
- Empty 1-Liter Soda Bottle
- 4 Ounces of 6% Hydrogen Peroxide
- Dish Soap
- Food Coloring
- Package of Dry Yeast
- Warm Water
- Small Mixing Container
- Free Printable – Elephant Toothpaste Label
Thoroughly clean a 1-liter soda bottle. Remove soda label and replace with our free printable of the Elephant Toothpaste Label.
2Add Hydrogen Peroxide
Using your funnel, pour 4 ounces of 6% hydrogen peroxide into your soda bottle. Please note that this is a higher concentrated solution than what is often found at grocery stores. It can be found cheaply at beauty supply stores.
3Add Additional Ingredients
Add a couple squirts of liquid dishwashing soap to your bottle. Next, add a couple of drops of food coloring. For best results, use a max of two colors. Add glitter for a sparkly, "cleaning" effect (optional).
In a small container, mix 1 packet of dry yeast with 4 tablespoons of warm water. Mix thoroughly.
Quickly pour your yeast mixture into your filled soda bottle (do not use a funnel). Watch your elephant toothpaste quickly form and ooze out of its tube!
Your elephant toothpaste may be a little warm after the reaction. Let it cool then have fun exploring your foamy, glittery creation!
Include the Elephant Toothpaste Activity in your classroom to encourage early exposure to hands-on science opportunities.