Is this scene familiar? It can take place in any setting: the playground, the backyard, the bathtub. You shake a bottle of newly purchased bubbles in front of your excited toddler. His or her eyes and mouth widen in anticipation. You pull the neon yellow wand from the bottle, put it in front of your face and blow.

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing happens. Except you look pretty darn silly (kinda like a frustrated panting puppy) and disappointment takes over your toddler.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been a bubble blowing failure. And we all know that being a bubble blowing expert is one of the requirements for the job of ‘mom.’ (Or a (cool) mom, anyway).

Which is why I have a new appreciation for the art and science of bubble blowing after attending Bubble Days at the Maryland Science Center. The folks kept the bubbles going all day and had lots of tips and tricks that they shared with bubble fanatics and amateurs. I would be the amateur.

The first tip? The key to phenomenal bubbles is in the solution. (Thanks, Casey Carle from Bubblemania!) Pun definitely intended. If you really want to be a (cool) bubble blower, you have to make your own solution.

The Science Center had a station set-up where kids could make their own bubbles (and bubble wand out of a pipe cleaner). Bubble solution is relatively simple: water, glycerin, dishsoap, shake. It’s getting the ratio of the ingredients that’s key. Here’s the super-secret bubble recipe from bubbleologist Casey Carle’s website, Bubblemania:

  • 1/2 gallon (64 ounces) distilled water (tap water is usually not as good)
  • 1 tablespoon Glycerin (Available in pharmacies. Slows evaporation—not needed on muggy/humid days).
  • 14-16 ounces Ultra Joy or Ultra Dawn (or 10-12 ounces non-ultra, good quality dish detergent). Please Note: When possible, search and use Non-Ultra Dawn

Yes! Pipe cleaner bubble wands DO work! I had a very inquisitive little three year old test it out for me as we were leaving the Science Center. She wanted to know if it would ‘really work,’ too.

As a parent, I came across a lot of great bubble-related ideas that were very “take home”-able. For instance, fun with bubble wrap. Bubble fans at the Center made bubble wrap prints by using bubble wrap to make imprints using washable paints. We joined the fun rather late in the day and most of the bubble wrap was pretty well paint covered. I’m saving this gem of an idea for a rainy day. What a great way to ‘recycle’ the popular packing material, too!

Another fabulous bubble art idea? Soap bubble art! Add some food coloring into your bubble solution and have your tike blow bubbles onto a piece of paper.

So, yes, I have been a bubble blowing failure. But thanks to the Science Center, I have started my twelve step rehabilitation process.

NOTE: Picture is not from our fun at Bubble Days! It was taken at Lila’s first birthday party. :0)