Pirate Science FUN: Exploding Treasure Chests

Pirate Science Fun: Exploding Treasure Chests

Our pirate adventures continue at summer camp!  The kiddos and I have had a blast so far, and I’m sure we’ll continue to do so.  We delved into some PIRATE SCIENCE with Exploding Treasure Chests!!  It was a great sensory experience as the solid, freezing cold chests turned to mush and exposed the treasures hidden within.

pirate science fun: exploding treasure chests

To make the treasure chests, I used the recipe from our Icy, Fizzing Letters experiment.  Engineer and I have perfected the recipe — 3 parts baking soda, 1 part water, and Jell-O powder as desired.  This ensures the solution freezes solid and comes out of the ice cube trays in the desired shape.  Since I wanted “treasure chests”, I just used plain ol’ rectangular ice cube trays.

pirate science fun: exploding treasure chests

After I mixed up a batch of our icy and fizzing solution, I filled the ice cube trays halfway.  Once that was done, I added little “treasures” to each cube — pennies, beads, and some googly eyes.  Then I filled the ice cube trays the rest of the way and added some silver glitter (’cause everything’s better with glitter).  Then into the freezer!  I let the treasure chests freeze overnight, and they popped out of the trays easily the next morning.

Pirate Science Fun: Exploding Treasure Chests

When it was time for our pirate science fun, I placed some plastic tubs outside.  I placed a few frozen treasure chests in each of the bins, then set out spoons and condiment bottles.  Some vinegar went into the condiment bottles, and in a few segmented trays.  This way, all of the kiddos could access the experiment.  I told them it was their job, as pirates, to find the treasures hidden in the frozen chests.  Then I let the children go at it!

Pirate Science Fun: Exploding Treasure Chests

The condiment bottles were squeezed, and the vinegar was spooned, onto the treasure chests.  The kiddos LOVED when the treasure chests “exploded”, and some really got into squeezing the partially thawed cubes with their hands.  There were a variety of exclamations throughout this whole process:

  • “It’s exploding!  They really DO explode!”
  • “Hey, smell this, Miss Mary Catherine!  It smells yummy!  How’d you do that?!”
  • “It’s so squishy now, but it’s still cooooold.”
  • “Look!  I found treasure!  I found treasure!”
  • “Okay, we need more treasure chests.  Really, we need more!”

Pirate Science Fun: Exploding Treasure Chests

Most of the children were engaged the entire time we were outside.  Honestly, they would have continued on for longer, but we had to get ready to go home!  We rinsed the treasure off with some water, and the kids will take it home at the end of the week.  I was really happy with how this pirate-themed activity went!  The children were having fun, they were engaged, they were being pirate scientists, and many of them asked to do it again.

For more FUN pirate ideas, please check out my “Ahoy, Matey!” Pinterest board.  :)

Pirate Science Fun: Exploding Treasure Chests

Shared at Tuesday Tots, Mom’s Library, What I Learned Wednesday, We Made That, The Weekly Kids Co-Op, THE Pin-It Party, Share it SaturdayThe Parenting Pin-It Party, Activities for Preschoolers, Teach Me TuesdayThe After School Link UpChallenge and Discovery — Baking Soda


  1. says

    OMG what an awesome idea! My daughter is very into pirates right now and she would LOVE this. Thanks so much for sharing with us at We Made That!

    • says

      Thanks so much, Jackie! The kiddos were indeed engaged the entire time! In fact, we actually had to tell them to stop and clean up so we could get them ready to go home. I’m sure they would have continued playing with the “jewels” in the icy blue water! :) Ooooh, and if you and the kids try this out, PLEASE let me know how it goes!!
      Mary Catherine recently posted…Traveling with a Child: A Sleeper Train Adventure!My Profile

    • says

      Love it, Meg!! That’s how the kids described it, too — using words like “exploding” and “blowing up”. If you trying it with your first grader, let me know how it goes! :)

    • says

      Great way to look at the broken necklaces, Gemma! We used bits and bobs like that too. The kids definitely had a blast with it, so I know we’ll be doing it again. Thanks for popping by! :)

  2. says

    Can I just say that I Love this idea! This would go great with any pirate themed lesson or activity for a birthday party. I could see why the children had so much fun! This is on my activity list now! Thanks!!!

    • says

      Thanks for the kind words, Kay!! We seriously loved it too! Next time, I’m going to plan it when we have even more time to play. The kids got into some pretend play once all the treasure had been found, and I bet they would’ve liked a little longer with that.

  3. Aimee Chatelaine says

    I’m going to make them for my 4 kids and the neighboring kids….except put a little twist to it. We are going to fill water guns with vinegar and make it into a game. They are very excited…I’ll have to keep you posted.

  4. Erin Zinke says

    I love this idea! My school has a PBIS theme that I have tied into pirates. I have been looking for a fun open house gift to give. This just might be it! I also have a teaching pirates board on Pinterest:-)

    • says

      Thanks Melody! We loved it too, and I can’t wait to try it again soon! They melted slower than regular ice cubes because of all the extra ingredients. It made the cold and fizzy fun last longer! :)


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