Water Play Experiment: Does it Float or Sink?

ToddlersPreschoolers13 Comments

Seriously, the most asked for activity from Henry is a water activity.

After doing his own water experiment, painting with water on the driveway, a what dissolves in water experiment, the stages of water experiment, along with many other countless ones, I am struggling to come up with new ideas for water!

But, of course, there’s always more ideas.

And this may one of the more basic ones, but very successful at entertaining them in the kitchen while I got dinner on the table.

A simple water play experiment. Does it Sink or Float?


I started Henry with an empty basket to go around and grab a few of his toys that could get wet. (Which was hard to explain to him that wooden toys probably wouldn’t be the best, nor would ones with batteries in them. But we eventually found a few toys to experiment with.)

A water-filled tub and some toys are all you need.

Does the toy float? Or does it Sink?

As Henry and George began to put the toys in the tub of water, I prodded them with questions  about what they thought.

Do you think that one will sink when you put it in?

What do you think will happen with that toy?

… and so on.

Toddler & Preschooler Water play

Henry guessed each time. But it was completely a guess for him. He really had no clue.

And to George it was just a great big toy that was fun to play with! It was great entertainment for the boys while I got dinner ready. And when they were done, I just wiped up the splashes they made with a bath towel.

And bonus. My kitchen floor got mopped in the process! (I would have let the boys do that part, but Dad was working on something in the garage that took them away.)

We even had a couple things that just sort of sank. But floated still. Which caused for confusion. Tissue paper was one of them. Pom poms surprising floated. For some reason I really thought they’d fill with water and sink, but they didn’t. The pipe cleaner floated, but sank eventually.

Sink or Float Activity for Kids

And the purple tissue paper eventually made the water turn purplish too after the boys played for a while. Henry had to make sure I noticed that! And he knew what caused it too!

What’s your favorite way for the kids to play with water?

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  1. says

    Fun activity–thanks for sharing. You can also pair it with the book WHO SANK THE BOAT? by Pamela Allen. Nice to connect hands-on activities with appropriate books–BLUEBERRIES FOR SAL & make some blueberry muffins together, WE’RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT paired with a game of taking turns hiding and finding a teddy bear . . . you get the idea. Doubles the fun =)!

  2. Emma says

    My 4-year-old loves this experiment. Every once in a while, after we did it the first time, she comes up to me and says, “I want to see if this will sink or float. I want to try an experiment.” Yesterday she was seeing if crayons would float in her pool! lol

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