Growing Jack-o'-Lantern

What You Need:

  • ½ cup white distilled vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons baking soda
  • Empty plastic water bottle (narrow top works well)
  • Balloon (orange for jack-o’-lantern, white for ghost, purple for monster, etc.)
  • Markers
  • Measuring cups or spoons
  • Small funnel
  • Optional: Make a Jack-o'-Lantern worksheet

What You Do:

  1. Ask your child if they know what a jack-o’-lantern is. Provide examples using books or images as needed. Explain to your child that today they will be making a jack-o'-lantern that grows by itself!
    **Note to grown-ups: Mixing baking powder and vinegar causes a mild chemical reaction, which results in a fizz-like response and expands the balloon. Using the amounts given here, this activity can be done with supervision indoors. If you add more of either ingredient, consider taking this activity outdoors you might cause a bigger reaction and/or burst the balloon.
  2. Invite your child to draw a jack-o’-lantern on the balloon using the markers. (Provide support for younger children as needed.)
  3. Help your child measure ½ of a cup of vinegar and pour it into the empty water bottle.
  4. Attach the funnel to the balloon and ask your child to pour in 1½ tablespoons of baking soda. Help your child move the funnel and give the balloon a gentle shake, making sure that the baking soda is in the bottom of the balloon (not in the neck).
  5. Carefully attach the balloon to the bottle, making sure not to tip the baking soda into the bottle yet.
  6. Ask your child to gently hold the balloon upright and watch their jack-o’-lantern grow!
  7. Engage your child in a discussion during this activity. Ask questions such as:
    • What happened when the baking soda mixed with the vinegar?
    • What do you notice?
    • What do you wonder?
    • If you did this activity again, would you change anything? If so, what?

Extensions: Children can use different colored balloons to make a growing ghost, monster, or zombie! Try pairing this activity with the Make a Jack-o'-Lantern worksheet for your child to create a jack-o’-lantern to decorate the house!

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