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Bubbles make a fun summer activity as well as an art project

Make your own bubble solution, and then make bubble art.
Paula Hrbacek

Blowing bubbles is a summer activity that has been passed down for generations. Just blowing the bubbles teaches eye and hand coordination to small children. Bubbles can be purchased, or made using the following recipe.

1/4 cup Ultra Dawn Dishwashing liquid

1 quart warm water

1/2 tablespoon glycerin (available at any drug store) OR white corn syrup

Note that the “ultra” brands of dishwashing liquid are more concentrated than the store brands. The store brands contain water, and the recipe will have to be adjusted for that.

Mix the ingredients by stirring gently, trying not to create too much foam. Bubble solution has a way of disappearing when a young child gets a hold of the typical bottle with a large lid. If the solution is put into a sports type of drink bottle, with the pop-up spout, it will be harder for a small child to spill the solution on the ground. Make sure that the label is removed from the bottle, and “bubbles” is written on the bottle with permanent marker. Always label a bottle when it is repurposed for another product so that a small child will not mistake it for something that is edible. And be sure to store any leftover solution in a place that is safe and out of a child’s reach.

Make your own wands by bending a pipe cleaner into a loop with a handle, like a P. Use a shallow lid for a dipping pan. A lid from a coffee can works well. Add just enough solution to cover the wire of the wand when it is pressed flat against the bottom of the lid. This not only helps prevent spills, it teaches the child to use what they need now, and save some for later.

Bubbles can also be used to make an art project by adding food coloring to the solution. For this project, the larger wands work better than the small ones used at wedding receptions. A larger bubble allows you to stand farther away from the paper, which lessens the amount of popping spray that gets on your face. If doing this craft with very young children, consider using sun glasses for eye protection.

Add liquid food coloring to the bubbles. It will take four or five drops of coloring to make an ounce of liquid dark enough to mark the paper. Test the bubble liquid by putting a drop of it on paper to see how dark the color is. Don’t add too much or the bubbles won’t blow out correctly.

If you don’t have food coloring, liquid water color paint will also work. Water colors can be purchased as a liquid, or created by adding water to a solid cake. If you have water color sets that have just a little bit of paint left in the cups, add about ½ tsp of water to a cup and mix until it dissolves.

Another way to get coloring is to soak dried out water color markers in a small cup with ½ inch of water. It will take several markers of the same color to make water that is rich enough to color the bubbles without diluting it too much.

If the bubbles become too thin to blow properly, add a squirt of dishwashing liquid.

Place a large sheet of newsprint on a clothes line, volleyball net or wire fence. Do not use a wood fence as the food coloring will dye the wood. Use clothes pins or large paper clips to hold the paper down. Clip extra clothespins along the bottom edge to give it some weight and prevent it from flapping too much.

Dip the wand, and stand about three feet away from the paper. Make sure you are upwind so that the bubbles don’t blow back on you. Blow a bubble. When it hits the paper it will pop, creating a circle of color. The best circles come from bubbles that land gently on the page and sit on the paper for a moment before they pop. Blow a lot of bubbles, in several different colors. Let dry.

©Paula Hrbacek All rights reserved. Please link to this article instead of reposting it. For reprint rights use the contact form at

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