This pirate science is perfect for your preschool pirate theme! We loved making these “exploding” treasure chests during many years of preschool summer camps.
You’ll find free printable pirate number cards at the bottom of this post. Add them to your pirate science activity so little pirates can count all of their treasure.
It was a great sensory experience as the solid, freezing cold chests turned to mush and exposed the treasures hidden within.
Full disclosure, there were no real explosions (although I’m sure you already knew that). Lots and lots of fizzing, of course.
However, the kids insisted on naming this activity “Exploding Treasure Chests,” so I ran with it.
Related: Pirate Sensory Bottle
Fizzing Treasure Chests for Pirate Science Fun
To make the treasure chests, I used the recipe from our Icy, Fizzing Letters ABC learning experiment.
You can adjust the additions based on what works best for you, of course!
Pirate Science Experiment Ingredients
Jell-O powder (optional)
Pennies or other coins
Don’t forget to grab the free printable pirate numbers at the bottom of this post!
“Exploding” Treasure Chests Pirate Science Video
Here’s a video that shows how to make the fizzing treasure chests!
I’ve written out the directions after the video.
How to Make the Fizzing Treasure Chests
Over the years, my son and I have perfected the recipe for these pirate science treasure chests — 3 parts baking soda, 1 part water, and Jell-O powder as desired.
This particular mix ensures the solution freezes solid and comes out of the ice cube trays in the desired shape.
I like to add the Jell-O powder for color and scent. You don’t need to add it if you’d rather not.
For many years, I just used plain ol’ rectangular ice cube trays to create the “treasure chests”.
Recently, though, I discovered these awesome treasure chest molds.
I think they add a nice touch, but they definitely aren’t necessary.
Related: Children’s Books About Pirates
After you mix up a batch of the icy and fizzing solution, it’s time to fill the ice cube trays. Fill them halfway.
Once that’s done, add little “treasures”. I’ve used pennies, beads, craft gems, and googly eyes. Just add what you’d prefer.
Next, fill the ice cube trays the rest of the way. You can add some glitter if you want to (’cause everything’s better with glitter). But the glitter is optional.
Then into the freezer! I let the treasure chests freeze overnight, and they popped out of the trays easily the next morning.
Playing with the Fizzing Treasure Chests
Put the frozen pirate chests out on trays or in bins. Place squeeze bottles filled with vinegar for the kids to use. Add some spoons or eye droppers if you’d like to.
We’ve almost always made this pirate science experiment for preschool summer camps. So when it was time for our pirate 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!
Related: Gold Slime for Little Pirates
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!”
Most of the children were engaged the entire time we were outside.
Honestly, the kids wanted our pirate science activity to go on for longer, but we had to get ready to go home!
Related: Sensory Pirate Activities
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.
If you loved these, be sure to check out Plato to Playdough’s pirate themed playdough kit!
Preschool Pirate Lesson Plans
Save time and get right to the pirate-y fun with done-for-you lesson plans from Preschool Teacher 101. The preschool pirate-themed lesson plans have printable lesson plans for a week, as well as explanations for the activities (for whole group, small group, and center time), book suggestions, and related printables.
Also available on Teachers Pay Teachers
Free Printable Pirate Number Cards
These pirate number cards are perfect paired with the fizzing pirate science fun! They’re available to members of Fun-A-Day’s free email community.
If you’re already a member, click on the button below to get the number cards sent to your email.
If you’re not a member yet, that’s okay! You can click on the button below and enter your information to join us. Then you’ll get the number cards as a welcome gift.
Please note that some school districts have very strict firewalls and pop-up blockers. If you’re not able to finish signing up, or you can’t even start to, I suggest you use a different computer.
The email with the free printable should arrive in your email inbox within 24 hours.
Originally written on July 10, 2013.