Sink or Float?

Updated: Apr 26

The water table is one of the favorite areas for children to play in the Sky Room. As an extension, we set up jars of water with rocks and corks. Small children love filling and dumping and they loved seeing what would happen to these objects if they varied the number they put into the jar, or the order in which they put them.

You can explore water displacement and buoyancy with your child at home. Fill a large bin with water. Collect items from around the house and natural objects from outside. Invite your child to play in the water. Follow their lead. Perhaps ask them some of the questions below as they play.

Points to ponder with your child:

  • What will happen when I place this in the water? Why?

  • What happens when we put objects in the water at different angles?

  • Will altering the material (ripping pieces of foil, or crumpling up a piece of paper) affect whether it sinks or floats?

  • Which materials seem to float? Do certain materials (metal or wood, etc) always float or always sink?

  • Why do you think it sinks or floats?

Listen to the read aloud Floating and Sinking by Amy. S Hansen. Pause the video when there's a question and see what your child thinks!

Try out a Penny Boat Challenge

All you need is foil, pennies and a bin of water. Design a boat out of foil, float it in the water and count how many pennies it can hold. Invite your child to improve their design and discuss:

What went well? What didn't go well?

How can we improve our design?

Keep looking for ways your child can explore sinking and floating around your house!

~Christine Buti, AM 2’s Investigators Co-Teacher

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