Friday, September 29, 2017

What’s in a bar of soap?

Last week we announced the relaunch of our popular Kitchen Concoction resource which can be found at .  This week we are featuring the activity What’s in a bar of soap? In this activity children focus on developing the skills needed to follow and amend recipes, linked to the industrial context of soap manufacture. 

Children in Ashwell School Hertfordshire developing soap bars

Through practical activities children develop their understanding of accuracy, measuring, reading scales, ratio, collaborative working and product development. They also experience irreversible changes through the manufacturing process, as they combine solid and liquid ingredients together.

Children are shown a ‘Strictly Classified recipe’, to stimulate a class discussion about how precise recipes ensure product consistency, and how unnamed ingredients, labelled a-k, can help develop recipe confidentiality in an industrial context.

Using the Strictly Classified recipe encouraged the children to think about how products are made in industry, combining liquids and solids together by following a step by step process. This was useful as it identified some of the skills needed for their own soap activity.                                                                             Year 5 Teacher

While carrying out the activity children are given the opportunity to work in small ‘companies’; each child is assigned a role within the company  such as  Communications Officer or  Resources Manager.  They then work to develop their own soap bars from soap noodles, glycerine and cosmetic ingredients. 

An element of competition is introduced, as the finished bars must be able to be handled, as well as looking and smelling appealing. Although the children are given a recipe and process to follow, an element of product development is also involved, as they decide which colours and fragrances to use.

We loved developing our own soap bar, ours used strawberry and blueberry fragrance and we added blue colouring, so we called it ‘Berry Bliss’                                                    Year 5 girl, Mary Exton School, Hertfordshire

A benefit of the updated resource is that teachers can click on a video link within the notes which demonstrates how the soap noodles and soap bars are made in industry. This enables the class to see how the processes they use in the classroom are also used on an industrial scale. At every stage of the recipe the children are encouraged to make careful observations and discuss how the mixture is changing.

Of course, often the key learning comes when mistakes are made. Failed recipes, that are too wet or crumbly to handle, provide great opportunity for discussion and develop problem solving skills. The children are then given the opportunity to adjust their recipes, using the knowledge gained of the ingredient functions and processes from the activity, to amend and improve their bars of soap.

 An important feature of the resource are the ‘Questions for Thinking’ which support teachers to ask open ended questions which  assist with the discussions that arise.

The key questions allowed some super discussions about how to change the recipe to improve their bars of soap and how to plan an investigation into this in a systematic way. 
                                    Year5/6 Teacher, Foxton School, Cambridgeshire

As soap is made through an extrusion process, the resource also provides a quick and easy link to the Industry – Animated website, opening up online interactive follow up activities, where children can learn about industrial extrusion via interactive animations.

So, if you are looking for a resource to help develop the skills of product development, apply mathematics and create opportunities for working scientifically then don’t delay and explore Kitchen Concoctions today!

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