This is the holiday version of our magic milk experiment – an incredibly simple science experiment that will mesmerize your child! Using only dish soap, milk, food colouring, 2 q-tips and a cookie cutter, your child can learn about chemical reactions. They will set off an explosion of colour that keeps changing in waves, right before their eyes! Our students at CEFA Early Learning schools love it!

I guarantee you that your child (and you) will love this hands-on experience.

Best Ages for This Activity

One to five, but older children also love it!

How to Make It


Let’s Get Started!

  • Invite your child to try a science experiment
  • Follow the steps below, ensuring that your child does as much as the process as possible without help. This will allow them to learn the many concepts this game offers:
  • Pour the milk in the plate (make sure it completely covers the bottom of the plate) and let the milk settle
  • Place a cookie cutter in the centre of the plate containing the milk
  • Add a few drops of green food colouring to the inside of your cookie cutter:

  • Add a few drops of red food colouring to the outside of the cookie cutter:

  • Soak one end on your q-tip in dish soap

  • Ask your child: “what do you think will happen if we dip this soapy q-tip in the milk?” your child make a prediction (a hypothesis).
  • Invite your child to try it:
  • touch the tip of the cotton swab to the centre of the milk that is inside the cookie cutter (the one with the green colour) and leave it for 10 to 15 seconds without stirring it. You will be amazed at the beautiful reaction of the colour in the milk! A picture does not do it justice, please try it

  • Now soak the tip of the other cotton swab and touch the tip of it to the outside of cookie cutter on the same the plate, where the red food colouring drops are. Below is an example with different colours, just to show you how incredible the reaction looks (you have to try it for yourself, a picture does not do it justice):

  • You can even take the cookie cutter out and see how the colours mix together in this beautiful dance! You can try several cookie cutters and more colours if you wish!

  • Did your child predict what was going to happen? What did happen?
  • You can try it as many times as you want, each time adding a drop of soap to the q-tip. You can also experiment putting the soapy q-tip in different places in the milk. Notice that the colours in the milk continue to move even when you remove the q-tip.
  • Ask your child: “why do you think the colours are moving? What is happening?”

The Science Behind this Experiment:

Milk is made up of mostly water but it also contains minerals, vitamins, proteins and fat. The fats and proteins react to the soap.

The molecules of fat bend, roll and twist in all directions as the soap molecules race around to join up with the fat molecules. You wouldn’t see this chemical reaction without the food colouring! During all of this fat and soap molecules movement, the food colouring is getting bumped and pushed around, providing an easy way to observe all the invisible activity.

The soap molecules are trying to catch all the fat molecules. When there is no more movement, all the fat molecules have been found. Are there any more hiding? Try another cotton swab dipped in soap and see what you can find!

Learning Opportunities

This is a thrilling S.T.E.M. activity where your child can see a chemical reaction as it happens. For better science learning, follow the steps of your scientific method with your child. Make sure you use as much math vocabulary as you can (for example, name the colours; observe if the movements are fast or slow, or slowing down; see the difference when you add soap near a big drop of food colouring versus a small drop; see if the colour touches the edge of the plate or if it stays I the centre; see if it goes to the left or to the right; etc.).

Extended Learning Opportunities

  • Try my original magic milk experiment for an even more beautiful reaction!
  • Invite your child to draw their observations. This is excellent for S.T.E.M. and writing.
  • Invite your child to film the reaction and use their vocabulary to tell you what happens, in their words. This is a wonderful way to use technology (S.T.E.M.) to further the learning experience, and to work on expressive vocabulary (literacy)

Natacha’s tip: Remember to let your child do as much of the process as they are capable of.

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