There's a Pumpkin in the Water Table
Float and Sink Activities for Preschoolers
Fall brings us a host of new materials to use in a sink and float activity. Invite families to join in on the fun and bring something seasonal to test in the water table.
Science Knowledge and Skills; Approaches to Learning
Water tub or water table (it should be deep enough to accommodate the larger items).
A collection of items that represent fall: apples (that vary in color and size), mini pumpkins, full-size pumpkin, acorns, pine cone, etc; small squares of paper and crayons.
Fill the tub about ½ way with water. Make a simple chart with 2 columns. Label one column Floats and one column Sinks.
Make predictions. Tell the children that you’re going to do an experiment. The first step is to make predictions about which of the fall items will float in the water and which will sink to the bottom. For this activity, we’re going to do our thinking in our head, not out loud. When you predict something there is no wrong answer.
Ask a child to select one item from your collection. Tell children to predict (or guess) if this item will float or sink. Give every child a small piece of paper and ask them to use a crayon to write the letter F if they think it will float; and the letter S if they think it will sink. Don’t show anybody the paper until after the experiment.
Invite a child to perform the experiment. Remind the children it’s important to observe what happens when the object goes into the water. Then invite all the children to hold up the papers with their predictions.
Record the result on the Float and Sink chart.
Bring in different size containers. Invite children to predict which fall items will fit inside which containers. Encourage children to use trial and error as one strategy. Provide measuring tools as another strategy.
Here are some new words and phrases to introduce during this activity.
Predict – When you predict, you guess what you think will happen.
Float – In this activity, we’re referring to the definition of something staying above water. Ask children if they’ve heard that word in different contexts? Do you float in a swimming pool? Do you wear floaties? Did you ever drink a root beer float?
Sink – In this activity, sink describes something that goes to the bottom of the water tub. Think of other definitions of the word sink.
Experiment – When you experiment, you do an activity to learn something that you didn’t know before.