Chemistry can be a fun and fascinating area of science for children to explore at home. Learning about chemistry can help kids develop their analytical skills, help them understand how things work, and it can lead them into a wide range of rewarding careers later on in life.
So if your kids are showing an interest in chemistry or you would like them to start to learn about it, we have found lots of excellent introductory resources that will hopefully lead them that learning about chemistry and science can be super fun and exciting.
Best Chemistry Books for Kids
The best way to introduce chemistry to young kids is to show them what chemistry can do. There are lots of fantastic books that have experiments for kids, as well as some excellent books with overviews of what chemistry is all about. Our favorite chemistry books for kids are:
- Basher Science: Chemistry: Getting a Big Reaction (ages 9+) by Simon Basher and Dan Green The Basher Science series are small, visually appealing books that turn ideas and elements of a particular topic into characters. The chemistry book in this series covers things like basic states, atoms, ions, nanoparticles, pH, combustion, and lots of other stuff. It’s a perfect overview of matter and how things interact, combine, and change.
- DK Eyewitness Books: Chemistry (for ages 8-12) by Ann Newmark The DK Eyewitness books are always nicely done, and this one is no exception. It’s another excellent overview of facts about chemistry, including information about the traditions of ancient alchemy and the technology of today. Each page is packed with beautiful pictures and lots of information about chemistry and how the world works.
- The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science: 64 Daring Experiments for Young Scientists by Sean Connolly (for kids ages 9-15, although you could go as young as 6 with parental supervision) The experiments in this book are fun and straightforward. The author tells the reader how long the experiment will take and whether there are any risks or dangers. At the end of each experiment, he describes the scientific reason for the results. A great thing about this book is that none of the ingredients are hard to find, everything can be made with household products, and the instructions are easy enough that a child can follow them.
- Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes: Unforgettable Experiments That Make Science Fun by Steve Spangler (for kids ages 9+) is a top-rated book, especially with homeschoolers. The instructions are easy to understand, and the full-color photographs and simple, along with the directions, help kids figure out how to complete the experiments. The science behind the experiments is also well-explained and engaging, and the experiments use items that are everyday household items.
- Candy Experiments by Loralee Leavitt (for ages 7-10) is a fun book that lets kids test candy for secret ingredients, peel the skin off candy corn, or float an “m” from M&M’s. You can spread candy dyes into rainbows, or pour rainbow layers of colored water, growing enormous gummy worms and turning cotton candy into slime, all while learning a bit of science.
- Chem4Kids is a site that teaches the basics of chemistry to everyone. It has tutorials on matter, atoms, elements, the periodic table, reactions, and biochemistry.
- Science Kids has a few easy chemistry experiments for kids, games, facts, lessons, and lots of other things to help kids learn chemistry.
- Home Experiments has an impressive list of fun science experiments you can do at home.
- Reeko’s Mad Scientist Lab has K-12 educational and fun science experiments and school science projects for teachers, parents, and kids of all ages.
- The American Chemical Society has an excellent section on its site for kids. A lot of great info and activities listed.
There are thousands of interesting online chemistry videos. They mostly involve high school or college kids, blowing things up. If you are looking for some suitable online chemistry lessons for smaller kids, we found some great videos that have a few of the ‘classic’ beginner experiments that are a good starting point to getting kids interested in chemistry.
- Steve Spangler’s YouTube channel and his website are great resources to find fun chemistry videos for kids. Check out his Mentos Diet Coke Geyser.
- Custard powder bombs are an old school chemistry trick that is fun to watch, but don’t try this at home!
- This video is a good introduction for kids (k-grade 3) about acids and bases.
- Making a crystal garden is an easy and fun experiment for kids.
There is a lot of grumbling online about the modern chemistry set. Partly because of liability concerns and regulations, the contemporary chemistry set often doesn’t even include any actual chemicals. Don’t worry; there is still a lot of really excellent beginner chemistry sets available that will help your kids learn to love chemistry (despite not being able to blow anything up).
A good place to start if you are looking for a high-quality chemistry set for kids is with the company Thames & Kosmos. They have a nice beginner chemistry set, or if you are looking for something a bit more serious, they have a series of sets called The Chem series that has four sets starting from a very simple Chem C500 up to their CHEM C3000 (V 2.0). These sets would be great for kids who are showing a serious interest in chemistry, not for a beginner.
Another good beginner kit for ages 5 to 10 is the Sciencewiz Chemistry Experiments Kit and Book 35 Experiments, Chemistry. It comes with all the materials your kids will need to perform 35 experiments. Some of the experiments include how to make candles, squirt with water pressure, sink and float an egg, dye a flower from the inside out, squeeze an egg into a bottle, capturing a CO2 explosion and growing crystals.
If you are looking for a chemistry set for a child who loves the series The Magic School Bus, there is a fun Magic School Bus – Chemistry Lab is great for kids ages 5 to 12. Some of the experiments included in this kit are: how to make sticky ice, use litmus paper, measure pH, perform chromatography, make bubble sculptures, wake-up fungus, create slime, form a bouncy ball, learn about density, produce a milk rainbow, plate copper, explode a volcano and more.
If you are looking for a simple set for kids ages 4 to 8, you could try the POOF-Slinky 0SA221 Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit. It is a smaller and cheaper kit than the ones listed above. This kit only has 11 experiments, so it’s pretty basic, but it’s an excellent intro to chemistry for very young kids.
A good kit that focuses on crystal growth is the POOF-Slinky 0SA230 Scientific Explorer Ultimate Crystal Growing Kit. This kit is appropriate for kids ages 9+, and it is all about growing crystals. It has the materials and the instructions to let kids grow 13 different types of crystals.
DIY Chemistry Sets
For those of you who like to live a little more dangerously and want a bit more excitement in your kid’s chemistry set, you can always make your own. The internet is a great place to find info on how to do this. Check out Great Balls of Fire on Makezine or Bob Thompsons Homeschooler Chemistry Set for the ultimate instructions on how to create DIY chemistry set for your kids. There is also a good thread here that has some great info if you want to build chemistry set from scratch.
- Neopets Chemistry for Beginners is a simple game where you have to build molecules from the atoms given to you.
- PBS Kids Kitchen Chemistry is a great site that allows kids to do experiments virtually online by solving a puzzle.
- Sheppards Software has a couple of games based on the periodic table.
- Chemistry Games have a few chemistry-related games listed. Probably most useful for ages 12+.
Hopefully, you found something that you can use to help get your children interested in chemistry. If you have any resources that you have used to help your kids learn chemistry that you think are helpful for kids, let us know in the comments below.