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.
Do you know why some objects float and others sink?
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Anastasia @ Montessori Nature says
Such a simple but wonderful idea!! Thank you for sharing! pinned!
Thank you kindly Anastasia! 🙂
Sara @ Happiness is here says
Lovely play-based learning! 🙂
Thank you so kindly Sara! 🙂 x
Kate - The Craft Train says
What a simple, practical and fun way to learn. I love that she thought of it herself.
oh this is just such a lovely activity incorporating nature Kate…and look at Poss’s face, having such fun!! Love it, pinned x
water is always such a draw card for kids isn’t it! If there is water about my kids are surely in it or playing with it 🙂
Penny at Mother Natured says
LOVE this activity Kate. Sharing all over the place xx
Thank you so kindly Penny. X
Poss looks so gorgeous. They just love anything to do with water don’t they? Even better that this was self directed. Once when we did a similar experiment, we then used all the nature objects that floated to create some patterns and floating art which was a fun challenge. (floating things like to float around and not stay in the one place, LOL) 😉 I know Noah would love to have a go of this so thanks for the reminder 😀
Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky says
Floating and sinking activities are always close to my heart, that was one of the first lessons I taught as a student teacher 🙂 The kids always love it, it’s lots of fun and so hands on. I love how you’ve used natural materials and encouraged Poss to choose her own materials.
Suzie's Home Education Ideas says
What a great post!! This is such a great hands-on way to learn about early maths concepts all through play!! I LOVE IT!!
Kelly B says
Gorgeous! I love anything with nature! This is gold.
I remember doing a floating and sinking science activity with my Year 2’s during Open Day, when parents visit classes. We had buckets of water, clay, kids, parents… mayhem! Lol. Such a great day though – and even some of the parents were stumped about why some things sank while others floated; and so began our exploration into density.
I love that Possum initiated this exploration. Love, love, love this. You’ve inspired me to set up an invitation to explore with my kiddos. Thank you Kate. Pinning. xo P