Miracle Jar

Entrance with the magic of oil and water! Shake up science learning by creating a toy that builds visual acuity.

MATERIALS - click to buy
  1. Baby food jar or any small jar that fits a child’s hands, like this example holding about 2.5 ounces on Amazon.
  2. Vegetable oil, any kind will do. We prefer to use an oil that is yellow in color, like this safflower oil. It provides more color-mixing and contrast possibilities. 
  3. Water
  4. Liquid food coloring, found here.
  5. Waterproof glue - We prefer Elmer’s Glue-all. 
  6. Optional - An assortment of sparkly things, such as these beads, sequins, craft gems, or glitter
  1. Give your child the small jar and have them fill the jar half-way with water.  
  2. Then, fill the rest of the jar with vegetable oil.  
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring.  Watch as the food coloring makes its way through the oil to reach the water. If it's a bit chilly in your home, it will take a few moments for the coloring to travel through the jar.
  4. Skilly Spark:  Talk with your child about what they see.  Watch all the neat changes you can see when the oil hits the water and then when the food color starts to spread.  See how they move in the water, in a slithery, smooth way.
  5. If desired, add a few beads, sequins, or glitter. Observe how this changes the liquid.  Turn the jar in different ways to see how the objects glisten and move.
  6. For continued use over time, attach the jar lid with waterproof glue, such as Elmer's Glue-All. You don’t need the glue if your child can resist opening the jar. Three year-olds and up will usually follow direction not to open the jar, though you may also have to explain why not.
  7. Shake that Miracle Jar! Then give it a rest to watch the oil and water separate. 
Keep the fun going
  • Make a couple different jars with visibly different materials. For instance, create one with colored water and oil only, then another jar with beads, water and oil. Observe how they look and behave differently after shaking.