Science and Art Activity for Kids: Milk Painting

This is one of our best experiments yet. We’ve heard about milk painting before but never really tried it ourselves, until today. It was amazing. The activity was fun, calming and quite satisfying to look at too. Best of all there’s some science behind it that kids will enjoy learning.

All you need:

How to do it:

  1. Pour milk into a shallow pan (we used a cookie sheet for this).
  2. Drop 4 colours into the pan. Three to four drops per colour should be enough to start. Position the drops close to the middle but with enough space between each colour.
  3. Ask your child to dip one end of the cotton bud in the middle of the pan and observe that nothing happens.
  4. Now, dip the other end of the cotton bud in dish soap and touch the colours and watch what happens.
  5. It’s great to swirl around the colours and cross the other colours with the dishsoap-dipped cotton bud to create beautiful patterns.

The science behind it:

While the science behind it is a bit advanced (molecular bonds and surface tension), younger kids will appreciate the beautiful art without actually understanding what is happening behind it. For kids who are older, here’s an exact explanation of what’s happening:

The detergent lowers the surface tension of the liquid allowing the free flow of food colour. The hydrophobic components of the detergent also react with the fat in the milk, by forming micelles and pushing around the food colour pigments.

Here’s a video of the magic milk home science experiment we did:

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