Outdoor Science Bin for Kids – Busy Toddler

A child crouches down behind a plastic bin filled with baking soda. An ice cube tray next to him is full of colorful baking soda.


An outdoor science bin is an epic summer activity. With just some baking soda and vinegar, kids can experience a combination art and science activity. This is one of the best and easiest activities to do with kids.

A child crouches down behind a plastic bin filled with baking soda. An ice cube tray next to him is full of colorful baking soda.

Why make an outdoor science bin?

Hello friends and welcome to my “let’s make giant activities for the summer because they’re just more amazing” series.

It’s not an actual series, but if it was: outdoor science bin would be on the list.

But really: giant activities (like the outdoor science bin) are where it’s at.

I am obsessed with making giant activities in the summer.

I’m not sure why. Maybe because the kids have more time to play. Maybe because there’s more room out there. Maybe because I just feel like it and it’s a fantastic change of pace that hooks the kids into even more fun…

Here are some other amazing giant activities to try:

Go big or go home is kind of my summer motto.

RELATED: Need some new summer activity ideas? I have a fabulous list of the great ones.

Overhead photo of a storage bin filled with baking soda. Three kid hands reach in to fill pipettes with colorful vinegar.

It’s not a one-and-done activity

We love a good science bin because really, is there anything better than the ol’ baking soda and vinegar experiment? It’s just so enchanting, magical, and captivating for kids… but it’s always a little “one and done.”

Drop in the vinegar, it fizzes, and the fun is over pretty fast.

It doesn’t have to be this way if you super size it and make the vinegar colored…

And when I say this bin has life: it has life. It’s been in use in my backyard for over a week now. The kids (mine and neighbor kids from 2-8) keep coming back for more.

RELATED: If your child loves science, see my list of classic childhood experiments.

A bin full of baking soda with a colorful ice cube tray of vinegar inside.


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This may look like an extensive list, but these are basic supplies that I always keep on hand. I don’t keep a ton of stuff around – instead, just a few of the best stuff that I can keep reusing.

A child crouches down behind a plastic bin filled with baking soda. An ice cube tray next to him is full of colorful baking soda.

The Set-Up

In your storage container OR water table (I did similar to this in our water table once – the activity looked like this), sprinkle in the baking soda.

Using an ice cube tray, add some squirts of food coloring and theb fill up the slots with vinegar.

Set in the pipettes or medicine droppers and let the giant science fun begin.

Set-up complete: activity is ready.

Let the science play begin

My kids used their pipettes to make designs, channels, moats, and art all throughout the science bin.

There was color mixing. There was exploration. There was scientific engagement.

It may “only” be baking soda and vinegar, but it is so much more.

Looking for more structure each day?

Check out Playing Preschool: Busy Toddler’s 190-day at-home activities program

Why I made an outdoor science bin

This is a great “watering hole” activity for kids: that means it’s a multi-age, multi-kid activity that everyone can crowd around.

Think “watering hole.” Get it?

Or this alone, it’s a great calming activity to participate in and have some time with science.

Either way, this is an independent play catalyst and a way to help your child get going outside with play.

Sometimes, my kids aren’t interested in heading outside OR someone is trying to reattach their umbilical cord OR they need help finding play: that’s when I would set this up as a way to draw them outside and jump start play.

A child's hand holes a pipette and squeezes pink vinegar into a bin of baking soda.

What kids learn from a science bin

We don’t need to justify play with “what kids learn,” but it sure is fun to think about especially with a beautiful activity like this, packed with so much learning and development:

  • Scientific exploration: exploring chemical reactions
  • Art: learning about colors and creating designs
  • Fine motor skills: using pipettes to engage finger muscles
  • Sensory: experiencing with senses
  • Imaginary play: developing dramatic play through science
A child's hand holes a pipette and squeezes pink vinegar into a bin of baking soda.

What are the recommended ages for this activity

Friends: stages not ages. Whatever age your child is able to use droppers to investigate baking soda is a great age to try this activity.

For my kids, right around age 2 is when they began to fall in love with this experiment.

Baking soda is technically harmful if large handfuls are ingested so use that information and play accordingly.

Tip – Don’t be in a rush to take this away!

Let your kids bounce back and forth to this activity over a few days (if possible). Add more supplies when needed, but let them have this as an outside option.

Over the last week, my kids and neighbor kids have bounced back to this activity repeatedly. It’s nice to have an outdoor science option at the ready to promote that gorgeous STEM learning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does food coloring stain?

Food coloring is water soluble and shouldn’t stain as long as it’s diluted with water. Whenever I get food coloring concentrate onto my clothing, I set it in cold water for about 24 hours to seep out.

How do you clean up baking soda and vinegar?

Carry this bin inside and dump it into the sink. It’ll help clean the sink (bonus) and is a safer way to dispose of it. I’ve had baking soda and vinegar kill my grass. I don’t want that to happen to you.

Susie Allison, M. Ed

Owner, Creator

Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.


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