Kids in the Kitchen: Glow in the Dark Food, Magic Colors, and Giant Bubbles!

If you’re coming in late, we’re doing back to school week!   Kate’s done 2 great posts about Breakfast on the run, and School Lunches.  And I showed you a fun rainy day recipe for homemade Slime– perfect for entertaining little (and who are we kidding? BIG) hands.  Today I have a little hodge-podge of 3 more kitchen tricks.  This stuff is purely for fun, and for making your kids think you are awesome.

#1  Glow in the Dark Food

The secret to glowing food is tonic water (diet tonic water works too).  It contains quinine, and guess what happens when you expose quinine to black light?

fun, right??  So if you mix up a drink (like Crystal Light lemonade like I’ve done below) and add a little tonic water…

magical glowing beverages!  (Have I ever mentioned that Kate hates the word “beverage?”  Hey Kate, beverage beverage beverage!! She’s totally hiding under her computer desk right now.)  Pretty much anything you can make that includes water can glow with tonic water.  Like Jello for example:

My kids thought that glowing jello was pretty much the coolest thing ever.

Now tonic water does have a nasty bitter taste to it.  My kids actually didn’t notice at all, which I thought was strange.  Maybe I’m just super sensitive.  I don’t like the flavor, so if you’re like me know that you only need a little to make it glow.  Adding a bit to juice or punch isn’t very noticeable.  And if you do jello, you can use part regular water (half and half, or even less tonic) to minimize the bitter taste.  And if you were wondering, YES you can even use tonic water to make glowing gak!

Think of other creative uses and gather stuff on your kitchen table.  Turn down the lights, flip on a black light, and watch your kids ooh and ahhh as they sip glow in the dark juice and chomp down radioactive jello.

#2 Magic Milk Colors

We have an issue in our house with sippy cups.  Every morning I give my boys a lidded cup with milk and every afternoon I find those cups somewhere in the house.  It’s not so old that it’s reached the nasty curdled stage (all you Mom’s know what I’m talking about- right??) but it’s old enough that I don’t want my kids drinking it anymore.  I hate watching it go down the drain, so lately we’ve been using it for play time.  My sister in law Emily told me about this one and I vaguely remember doing it as a kid too!

Place milk in a shallow dish and add some drops of liquid food coloring.

Now grab a *magic* toothpick.  What?  You don’t know where to buy magic toothpicks??  Just dip the end in dish soap 🙂

and let your kiddo touch the milk with it.

The colors instantly shoot out at lightning speed creating a wake of rainbows!  Try dipping the toothpick in the color first and then the milk and you’ll make rings.

Do it a few more times and then just sit back and watch.  As the soap disrupts the surface tension of the milk, the colors dance around all by themselves.  Kind of like a funky kaleidoscope.

Until of course, seconds later your kids can’t contain themselves and they stir it all around making a cloudy brown mess.  Not that I know from experience…

#3 Giant Bubbles
I have a little sister named Becca and my kids adore her.  One of the reasons is that she has endless ideas about how to entertain them.  Seriously, I really need to start taking notes.  Last time she was visiting my 4 year old came in the house from the back yard and said, “Quick Mom, Becca needs the dish soap!”  Since it was for my sister, I didn’t blink an eye, I knew she was up to something fun.  And sure enough…

All you need is a kiddie pool, a hoola hoop, some water, and a bunch of dish soap.  And then you can have human sized bubbles.  My boys thought this was SO cool (and so did I!)

My little guy is just mad his older brother wasn’t letting him pop it 😉
So there’s 3 more things for your Bag of Tricks.  File them away until you suddenly need something entertaining from ordinary ingredients!  Here’s a few more fun things:
*Disclaimer: this post includes affiliate links, which just means that when you purchase items through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps us keep working hard to create recipes for you!
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. I found a black energy saver bulb at Home Depot. It works in any regular light socket, so you don't need to buy anything extra. It was about $5 and works so much better than the "black" incandescent bulbs you find elsewhere.

  2. This drink really look awesome. I definitely want to try the recipe soon. I love new and interesting drink recipe. I found this recipe for Bohemia Sangrita recently. It's pretty interesting too. I thought you might like it too. Keep up the awesome blogging!

  3. Awesome! I LOVE quinine! I used to get freaked out when I ordered Gin and Tonics at nightclubs, until I found out the reason! I will be trying out the giant bubbles for my son though!

  4. Hale House- good point. Those black light *bulbs* that just look like regular light bulbs aren't strong enough. You need the long skinny tube style.

  5. You have to have a good quality black light for it to work. At first I bought the cheapest one along with store brand tonic water and it didn't work. So I exchanged the store brand tonic water with name brand and it still didn't work. After realizing it was the light, I bought a good one and VOILA!!!

  6. I love this!! Now just have to find a black light somewhere, but with Halloween coming up soon I'm sure they'll be popping up in the stores. I've added your link at my site as well 🙂

  7. Simpson Home- that's so weird! The bottle itself should glow like in the pictures. I wonder if you just got a dud?? Or if the generic is weaker? I just used Schwepps brand.

  8. Aaaahh! It didn't work for us. I was so happy because I am throwing a "glow-in-the-dark/black light" birthday party for my son TODAY. We went to the store and bought the generic tonic water. When we took it into the basement and the black light it had an itty-bitty glow to it. We added it to jello and it didn't glow at all! SO SAD. What kind of tonic water did you use? Any other suggestions?

  9. OH what great ideas! I have some grandkids coming to visit that I will have to experiment on!! Thank you.

  10. Jan Marie- I don't have specific measurements for the bubbles, she just poured it in until it worked! I do know it took lots- and we just used Costco brand liquid dish soap.

    Tia- black lights are relatively inexpensive. You can find them easily on-line or at party supply stores.

  11. I had no idea tonic water glows in the dark. So awesome! It would be fun to make glow in the dark treats for Halloween. 🙂 thanks!

  12. I'm going to use the tonic water for our Halloween bash this year…I'm excited already!

    Also, you may be more responsive to bitter compounds than your kids. Check out wikipedia's "Taste" article for how our genetics determine our abilities to sense bitterness.

  13. Love the glow in the dark food! So brilliant. I posted a link on my column (

  14. Erika- YES! I meant to mention that. You *can* use the tonic water to make glowing gak!

  15. The glow in the dark drinks…I mean, BEVERAGES…would be PERFECT for my Halloween bash this year! You are my best friend.

  16. thanks so much…. my grands are gonna have a blast with the milk and I'm gonna surprise them with glow in the dark "beverages" tonight at dinner…turn off the lights and Oma is magick (now if I can remember where I put the black light from Halloween) tee hee, The Olde Bagg

  17. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

    one thank you for each new idea posted! LOVE THEM ALL! I cannot wait to try them with the kiddos!