You likely have heard of Shopkins before. They are silly, cute, and ridiculously funny small plastic characters of food. Yes, food. Because any given Shopkin is just a plastic mold, Shopkins promote imaginative play. Kids can dream up the happenings of Shopville and play with one another.
I for one am a huge fan of the imaginative play, although, to be honest, Shopkins has never really caught on in my house. Probably because I am so math and science-minded that I literally have no idea what to do with them when they are put in front of me – a fault in my own imagination that likely manifests in it being more difficult to think outside of the box.
My kids, however, have no trouble creating elaborate relationships between each Shopkin. Drama can unfold in a heartbeat as one Shopkin changes a BFF, or decides to be salty instead of sweet.
When it comes to teaching my kids science I am always trying to do it by secretly hiding it into what they are already playing with. Since they were enjoying their Shopkins I decided to dream up some science and engineering challenges that they could do while playing with their Shopkins. Check out below to see my list, and continue reading to learn more about each activity.
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5 Shopkins Science and Math Project Ideas
- Measure the volume of a Shopkins.
- Organize a poll to graph your friends' favorite Shopkins.
- Find out the size of your head if you were a real-life Shopkins Shoppies, then make a model.
- Research and make a model of the sugar content for various Shopkins.
- Bake your favorite Shopkin (yes, baking is a wonderful blend of chemistry, physics, and math)
5 Shopkins and Shopkins Shoppies Engineering Challenges
- Engineer a Shopkins or Shopkins Shoppies boat to sail around Shopville
- Build a Shopkins shopping cart from recycled materials.
- Build the tallest tower of Shopkins you can using only Shopkins and 1 can of playdoh
- Design a Shopkins air tram for Petkins Park.
- Create a conveyor belt to move around one Shopkin at a time.
5 Shopkins Science Activities Explained
1. Measure the volume of a Shopkin.
Shopkins all have different shapes and sizes, so how could you measure the volume of a Shopkin? Volume is the amount of space an object takes up. A real cupcake, for example, takes up more space than Capella Cupcake. That is to say, it has a larger volume. But how do we find the volume of an object if we want to do more than compare relative sizes?
We can use a cup of water. In reality, a graduated cylinder is a much better way to measure the volume in this activity, but if you don’t have one on hand you can use a cup of water. But a graduated cylinder set is less than $10 on Amazon, and there are a ton of other fun science projects you can do with them, like create density columns.
If you have a graduated cylinder, fill it partway with water and record where the water is. I suggest filling to an easy to remember spot, like 10 or 20mL. If you want to color the water you can certainly add a drop or two of food coloring. Then drop in a Shopkin. The Shopkin will displace water, which is a fancy way of saying it will move water out of the way. As the Shopkin sinks to the bottom the water level will rise since water is being pushed out of the Shopkins way.
Once you added your Shopkin take a look at the water level on the graduated cylinder. It will have risen to a new level. If you subtract the two numbers you will get the volume of your Shopkin!
If you don’t have a graduated cylinder and don’t want to buy one, you can still do this project. However, it will be a bit more difficult and much less accurate. You’ll need a small plate and a small cup. First, you want to weight your empty plate and zero the scale with the plate on top. Now, place a cup on top of the plate and fill it all the way to the brim, so that if you put another drop in, it will overflow into the plate.
Now add in your Shopkin making the cup overflow into the plate. Remove the cup and Shopkin and take the scale reading of the plate. It should be more than zero now since when you added in the Shopkin water would have overflowed into the plate. You’re basically measuring the weight of the water. 1 gram of water (a weight), is equivalent to 1mL of water (a volume). Voila! By weighting the overflowed water you also measured the volume of your Shopkin!
If you have a lot of Shopkins you can find the average volume by doing the same experiment above but adding in lots of Shopkins. Once you have your total volume you can divide that by the number of Shopkins you added into the water. Is the value similar to what you found for a single one?
2. Organize a poll to graph your friends’ favorite Shopkins
There are a lot of ways you can organize and graph your poll, but one of my favorites is to integrate the polling with the graphing. To do this you’ll need some double sided tape and a piece of paper. You will want to make a large grid on your paper, with enough columns so that each Shopkin in the poll has its own column. You can also download and print our grid.
On the leftmost column of your grid, you will put in the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 etc going up. Now lay lines of double stick tape going vertically in each column. Stick a Shopkin at the 0 line, one in each column. As kids go around taking their poll they can move a Shopkin up in its column if selected.
This lets kids actually see the process of data collection and how bar graphs are built up. Once they have asked their friends and family they will have a nice chart and can compare and contrast their data. Is there one Shopkin that is very well liked? How would you be able to tell?
3. Make a model of your head as if you were a real-life Shopkins Shoppies
OK, I have to admit, this is a project I have always wanted to do with all of those dolls that have massively humongous heads and short tiny bodies. I mean really, your head would be gigantic, right?
There are a lot of places you can go with this activity, but first, we need to do a little math to figure out just how large our heads would be if we were Shopkins Shoppies. To do this we will need to do a little measuring.
Measure the height of your Shopkins Shoppies from their toes to their chins. Then measure your height. Now measure the circumference of their heads using a measuring tape. The circumference is the measurement around the equator, or middle, of the head. Record this value for your Shopkins. You won’t need this value for your head since we are about to find out just what your head would be!
Older kids can try and figure out how they can use these three pieces of data to figure out what their Shopkins head size would be. They will need to use fractions and ratios to do this.
Younger kids can plop it all into a calculator using the formula below (don’t peek older kids!):
(Your height/Shopkins height)x(Shopkins Circumference) = Your Circumference
Don’t forget to make sure you are using the same units for everything (I would choose inches if you are in the States, or cm everywhere else). Now that we know the circumference of your Shoppies head, let’s make a model!
You’ll need some large paper, and likely tape to make your paper even larger. Let’s assume our heads are round balls, so the circumference will be the same in any direction. To draw our heads on the paper we will really need to know how wide our circle is, or the diameter. To find the diameter we can divide the circumference by pi (or 3).
Now you can draw your Shoppies head. Measure out the diameter of the circle on your paper both vertically and horizontally, making sure to keep the middle point the same for both, just as the middle point of a circle is always the same. Once you have the four dots on your paper you can use them as a guide to connect them into a circle. Once you have the outline of your Shoppies head it’s time to decorate it with whatever hair, jewelry, eyes, etc you would want to have if you were a Shoppie. Now you can have someone snap a shot of you with your ridiculously large Shoppies head!
4. Research and make a model of the sugar content in various Shopkins.
Shopkins are delicious little critters. They open up the door to make a model of sugar content, much like the one we always see the amount of sugar in water, juice, soda, etc. This is a pretty easy project, you just need Shopkins, a computer, and sugar.
Now you’ll need to do a little research about each Shopkin. For example, if you are looking at Waffer Tops you’ll want to find out how much sugar is in a serving of wafer cookies. You can either look this up online or head to the grocery store to learn about reading nutrition labels. Online I can find that a serving of wafer cookies has 2.2 grams of sugar.
Using a scale, measure out 2.2 grams of sugar and put it in a ziplock bag or vial – don’t forget to label all of you bags/vials as you do this!
After you have done a few Shoppies you can look at them to see who has the most/least sugar content and also open the door to talking about how much sugar we eat, how much we should eat, and what sugar does to our bodies!
5. Bake your favorite Shopkin
You might be thinking that baking your favorite Shopkin is less math and science and more home economics. But cooking uses a ton of math and science. By measuring, ratios, chemical reactions, and thermodynamics, cuisine of all types are rife with STEM.
Choose your favorite edible Shopkin, find a recipe and gather your supplies. More advanced kids can try and tweak recipes to make them more like their Shopkin.
Create, decorate, and enjoy!
5 Shopkin Engineering Challenges Explained
1. Engineer a Shopkins or Shopkins Shoppies boat to sail around Shopville.
This is a fun water play engineering activity. You’ll need to decide ahead of time what kids can use as materials – I often use just foil, not even tape. Of course, you could use straws, paper cups, plastic wrap…the options are endless, just make sure that you agree to a specific set of supplies. Having the limitation on supplies helps kids think outside of the box and focus on what they can make rather than what they can find. Encourage kids to pursue their ideas, just because it doesn’t look like a boat, or it isn’t the way you would put it together, doesn’t mean it won’t work. Sometimes kids come up with ideas that work better than what adults do.
To make sure you don’t impede on your child’s engineering ideas I suggest you build your own boat at the same time, because why not?!?
2. Build a Shopkins cart from recycled materials.
Whenever I think of recycled materials, I think of our recycling bin. The girls can go through that and pick out absolutely anything they want to use in their project. I usually put out scissors and hot glue to help them put things together.
Keeping the materials limited to our recycling bin adds an extra challenge (who knows what, or how much of anything is in there), and also keeps them from ripping wheels off of their own toys.
Once they have made their Shopkin cart you can see how well it rolls, or just enjoy it as a new storage box for all of their collection.
3. Build the tallest Shopkin tower possible.
How tall of a Shopkins tower can your kids make using only one can of playdoh and their Shopkins?
It’s fun to see how kids think about going straight up at first, and quickly realize through trial and error that they need a wider base.
During this project kids will need to think about how much playdoh to put between Shopkins to hold them together, but also keep some of the remaining building. They will also need to think about how the Shopkins can fit together, and if there is an ideal order (like wider Shopkins at the base and skinnier Shopkins at the top).
You can make this more difficult for older kids by seeing how many they can stack without anything to stick them together (eg with playdough)!
4. Design a Shopkins air tram for Petkins Park.
Since we’re engineering fun things like ships, why not add a nice air tram to tour around Petkins park with? This is a great activity to mix in other building toys with, like Lego, Magnatiles, bristle blocks etc. You’ll need a way to build the towers, string to act as the go-between, and some sort of tram vehicle to keep your Shopkins safe and secure.
5. Create a conveyor belt to move Shopkins around.
Given that Shopkins are little products you can buy at the supermarket (in both the plastic and real form), it seems like a great activity for kids to try and make a conveyor belt. This is a great engineering project to get kids thinking about what creates movement, and how they could create it in a way that is compact. Make sure to give constraints on this project in terms of size and supplies they can use.
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