A Reactive Saint Patrick’s Day

In addition to pulling out our finest greens for today’s big holiday we used the occasion to introduce the Younger Fives to chemical reactions. To be more precise the reaction between baking soda and vinegar, which leads to some very yummy Irish Soda Bread.


To start the day we went over the basics of this reaction between an acid and a base and then let the kids play with the ingredients themselves. Five Ball was most surprised with the results after he decided to dump his entire supply of baking soda into his cup of vinegar all at once. The older kids experimented with a bit more moderation:)


Then we moved on to trapping one of the by-products of the reaction (carbon dioxide) in a balloon. While creating bubbles was exciting this step gave the kids a very tangible example that a gas was indeed being created.


We then moved into the kitchen where we used the Happy Herbivore’s recipe to make Whole Wheat Vegan Irish Soda Bread. We talked about the importance of leavening agents in making bread and the history of Irish Soda Bread. Did you know that Native Americans were the first to use soda (they used pearl-ash or Potash) in their breads to make them rise?

While the bread was in the oven the kids watched The Magic School Bus Baked in a Cake. They have seen this episode several times before, but it does a great job of reinforcing the concept of chemical reactions in cooking. Plus the kids can never get enough of Mrs. Frizzle!


Once the soda bread was out of the oven we sat down to a veganized Saint Patrick’s Day meal of Shepherd’s Pie and Irish Spice Cake. All in all a very educational Saint Patrick’s Day that led to five very happy tummies. We hope that you all had a wonderful Saint Patrick’s Day as well!



7 thoughts on “A Reactive Saint Patrick’s Day

    • Our pleasure 🙂 It was surprisingly difficult to find authentic Irish desserts (not just a regular dessert dyed green or with mint), so we were very happy to enjoy your spice cake at the end of the meal. Hope you had a great Saint Paddy’s day too!

  1. I love the expression in the top pic. It really looks like science is exciting!

    Also love the Magic School Bus books/videos. They really do retain the stuff they learn there (or at least P does) and it also engages them. Plus, woman in STEM. Although still actually teaching/nurturing, but we’ll take it how it comes.

    • We are trying to get our youngest more involved in school, and this has been one of the first lessons that really got his attention. Making bubbles with baking soda and blowing up balloons with gas did the trick like nothing else could 😉

      • I took the same recipe to a kid’s birthday party at the sandpit. They built a sand “volcano” around the bottle and made it explode with larva. Never seen so many kids so focussed at a birthday party – everyone from 2 years to 10!

        It’s definitely a great trick with lots of ways to adapt it. We haven’t even tried the balloon one yet, and just this morning I saw it adapted to an easter theme:

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