There seems a natural curiosity for kids to add things to water. A sink and float experiment with nature is always lots of fun and a great way to teach them about predicting and testing ideas. It’s also a delight watching their face react to the surprise of the expected and unexpected. 🙂
Whilst a sink or float experiment with nature is not new, I have to be honest here and give Possum (almost 3 years) the credit for setting up this idea simply from her access to a tub of water. It was one of those moments that was completely child led and wonderful.
Recommended Age: 2.5 years +
(Active supervision is required on all my activities)
Quite simply, Possum gathered up her bucket and began collection various natural objects found in our garden. A few things she found were –
- Tree bark
- Fallen leaves and
The smallest natural object she found began the experiment and she delighted in her findings that it was able to float, even when pressed down to the bottom of the tub of water. It continually rose to the surface.
It was clear to me that Possum knew the terms ‘floating’ and ‘sinking’ and what they meant so she already had that background understanding. Gently and before she could test any more natural objects I simply asked her the questions, ‘Will it sink or will it float?” and encouraged her to answer.
Learning through play
Possum came to realise that the natural objects that she had collected, which were solid and heavy, would quickly sink to the bottom, even when carefully placed on the surface of the water or thrown in. What great experimenting!
I also noticed that Possum had collected lots of fresh leaves and so I asked her to try some dried ones. Would they react differently? This was another layer to her investigation.
Of course like you’d expect, soon everything ended up in the water tub and it was a mixture of natural objects that had either sunk or were floating on the surface. What a beautiful sight. I see now that Teach Preschool did a very similar activity in the classroom, which you might like to see here.