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Bubbling Over

pcmlogocolor-9.jpgBy Carly Loeper
Exhibit and Program Developer
Providence Children’s Museum

Bubbles are magical.  Even as an adult, I experience a delicious thrill watching an orb of rainbow-swirling skin emerge from its soapy film to dance unpredictably on the breeze.  I think what makes bubbles so fun to fiddle with is that the more you play with them and put your imagination to work, the more you learn what makes them tick and uncover new possibilities.  While bubbles made with store-bought solution and wands are captivating, there’s more than one way to blow a bubble!


A simple homemade solution makes excellent bubbles.  Mix one cup of Dawn® dishwashing liquid with a gallon of water.  See how inventive you and your kids can be by using ordinary household items to launch bubbles.  Experiment with anything that has an opening where a soap film can form and blow through the objects or wave them through the air.  At Providence Children’s Museum, we’ve played with paper tubes, cookie cutters, tin cans with both ends removed, strawberry baskets and circles of soapy hands.  So much of the fun is in the process of discovering together – predicting what you think will happen, talking about what works and what doesn’t, and sharing the squeals and “whoas” when a steady and patient breath yields a beautiful, billowing bubble.

To generate enormous bubbles, make this bubble-launching tool.  Thread three feet of string through two straws and tie the ends together to form a big loop.  Dip the loop in a pan of bubble solution and slowly lift it out until you spot a soapy film left behind.  If you see it, you’re ready to launch!  Steadily pull the straws upward or to the side to make a giant bubble and try to release it by closing or twisting the straws.  It takes some practice but it’s worth it!

Bubbles don’t have to float in the air.  It’s fun to create lingering bubble structures that rest on soapy surfaces – a great way to experiment indoors on a rainy day.  Gently blow through a straw in a tray of bubble solution to make bubbles of different sizes and in playful designs.  Lift the straw from the bubble “dome” that’s left behind or try blowing even smaller bubbles inside it.  I loved watching a child make a “bubble playground” by completely coating her tray with bubbles then explaining, “You get to bounce around on all of the bubbles!”  When children have opportunities for open-ended exploration alongside adults who join their play and wonder, stories and discovery emerge naturally.

Blow, stretch and paint with bubbles during Bubble Blowout at Providence Children’s Museum on June 27 from 1:00 – 3:00 PM.  And explore the possibilities of bubble making at home by picking up a “Bubble Play” kit in the Museum’s Gift Shop, packed with even more fun-filled ideas compiled by Providence Children’s Museum play specialists!

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  • We’ve found Dawn and Joy to be concentrated enough to produce strong, long-lasting bubbles. I’ve tried a few of the cheaper brands, and they just don’t hold as well. Still, it’s fun to experiment with recipes; there are so many on the internet, including the addition of Karo syrup and glycerin. Happy bubbling!

  • What is it about the Dawn brand of soap that makes it better for bubbles? I always see that brand recommended.