Kindergarten children love to play with water, and sink and float activities also help teach concepts such as different objects having different properties. These activities are also a good introduction to science and the idea of answering questions and finding out information by testing. Sink and float activities can be varied for different ages, with younger children simply testing which objects float and which sink, while older children can be guided to think about why some objects sink while others float.
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Sink or Float?
Have the children test objects to see if they sink or float. Provide children with a variety of objects and ask them to think about which ones will sink, and which will float. Have the children drop the objects in water and see if they were right. You can also place a variety of objects on a table and ask children to choose ones they think will float. Then drop those objects into a tank or bowl of water to test their choices.
Give each child a ball of clay the size of a large marble. Ask the children to drop the clay into a tank or bowl of water. The clay will sink. Fish all the clay out of the water and show the children how to make a bowl shape from the clay. Once the children have made their bowls, ask them to place them back in the water. This time they will float. Now challenge the children to make a boat shape from the clay that will float. Let the children experiment with different shapes and whether they float or sink.
Sink the Boat
Have the children make a bowl or boat shape from clay, as before. Float the boats in a tank or bowl of water. Have the children place a marble in their clay boat -- the boat should remain floating. Ask the children to find out how many marbles it takes to sink their boat. Challenge the children to make a boat shape that will hold four or five marbles before sinking. Guide them into thinking about how to do this; experiment with making the boat bigger, thicker or thinner or a different shape.
Fill a tall, clear glass with sparkling water or clear soda. Place a few large raisins in the glass and ask the children to watch carefully. The raisins will float for a time, then sink, then rise up, then sink, then rise, etc. Tell the children the raisins do this because the bubbles stick to the raisins and make them lighter, so they can float. This is also how fish swim. Fish have a sack inside them, called a swim bladder, that they fill with air when they want to rise up, or empty when they want to sink down. Divers use a similar device, called a buoyancy control device, to swim under water.
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