Friday, September 29, 2017

What’s in a bar of soap?

Last week we announced the relaunch of our popular Kitchen Concoction resource which can be found at .  This week we are featuring the activity What’s in a bar of soap? In this activity children focus on developing the skills needed to follow and amend recipes, linked to the industrial context of soap manufacture. 

Children in Ashwell School Hertfordshire developing soap bars

Through practical activities children develop their understanding of accuracy, measuring, reading scales, ratio, collaborative working and product development. They also experience irreversible changes through the manufacturing process, as they combine solid and liquid ingredients together.

Children are shown a ‘Strictly Classified recipe’, to stimulate a class discussion about how precise recipes ensure product consistency, and how unnamed ingredients, labelled a-k, can help develop recipe confidentiality in an industrial context.

Using the Strictly Classified recipe encouraged the children to think about how products are made in industry, combining liquids and solids together by following a step by step process. This was useful as it identified some of the skills needed for their own soap activity.                                                                             Year 5 Teacher

While carrying out the activity children are given the opportunity to work in small ‘companies’; each child is assigned a role within the company  such as  Communications Officer or  Resources Manager.  They then work to develop their own soap bars from soap noodles, glycerine and cosmetic ingredients. 

An element of competition is introduced, as the finished bars must be able to be handled, as well as looking and smelling appealing. Although the children are given a recipe and process to follow, an element of product development is also involved, as they decide which colours and fragrances to use.

We loved developing our own soap bar, ours used strawberry and blueberry fragrance and we added blue colouring, so we called it ‘Berry Bliss’                                                    Year 5 girl, Mary Exton School, Hertfordshire

A benefit of the updated resource is that teachers can click on a video link within the notes which demonstrates how the soap noodles and soap bars are made in industry. This enables the class to see how the processes they use in the classroom are also used on an industrial scale. At every stage of the recipe the children are encouraged to make careful observations and discuss how the mixture is changing.

Of course, often the key learning comes when mistakes are made. Failed recipes, that are too wet or crumbly to handle, provide great opportunity for discussion and develop problem solving skills. The children are then given the opportunity to adjust their recipes, using the knowledge gained of the ingredient functions and processes from the activity, to amend and improve their bars of soap.

 An important feature of the resource are the ‘Questions for Thinking’ which support teachers to ask open ended questions which  assist with the discussions that arise.

The key questions allowed some super discussions about how to change the recipe to improve their bars of soap and how to plan an investigation into this in a systematic way. 
                                    Year5/6 Teacher, Foxton School, Cambridgeshire

As soap is made through an extrusion process, the resource also provides a quick and easy link to the Industry – Animated website, opening up online interactive follow up activities, where children can learn about industrial extrusion via interactive animations.

So, if you are looking for a resource to help develop the skills of product development, apply mathematics and create opportunities for working scientifically then don’t delay and explore Kitchen Concoctions today!

Su Menine

Friday, September 22, 2017

Kitchen Concoctions - Bubbles! 2017

 Collaborating and manufacturing bubble mixtures, altering ratios of materials

We are delighted to announce that CIEC’s popular resource for primary teachers, ‘Kitchen Concoctions’, has been updated for the new academic year 2017/18. Nine revised, exciting science activities (with teacher guidance) can be downloaded for free at

Activity 5: ‘What’s in a bubble mixture?’ has been one of the most popular activities and can easily be adapted to suit to the full primary age range. The updated version begins with the new, eye catching competition poster in order to promote class discussion focusing on how industrial scientists continuously research and improve recipes, including bubble formulations. Teachers might also wish to download and use the new Kitchen Chaos cartoon strip as a starting context.

The activity culminates in the engaging challenge of children creating their own ‘best bubble’ mixture by trialling, adapting, recording and evaluating different ratios of liquid ingredients. The revised activity sheets and interactive planning tools offer support for those children requiring a structured approach to planning, carrying out and recording throughout the challenge and there are also new resource sheets enabling children to work in a more open and creative way.

Further features of the revised Bubbles activity include: signposts to prior learning, science vocabulary, extension or home-based activities, questions for thinking and updated safety guidance. The activity ends with some innovative suggestions for linking with industry and working with STEM ambassadors as well as links to another popular CIEC resource and website The Science of Healthy Skin.

Timing how long each bubble lasts, repeating for accuracy

Jenny Harvey and Nicky Waller