Garden Sink or Float Activity

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The weather is warming which means it’s the perfect time to get outside for some learning fun! Sink or float experiments are ideal to do with small groups of children at home or at school. You can engage your children’s natural sense of curiosity and introduce them to the basics of a science experiment with our Garden Sink or Float Activity! This is sure to be a hit with your kids as much as it was with mine!

*Pair with our Summer Writing Center Activities for Early Learners!

Engage children's natural sense of curiosity and introduce them to the basics of a science experiment in this Garden Sink or Float Activity!

Garden Sink or Float Activity

As we head into summer, it’s time to start taking as many of our activities as we can outdoors. The fresh air gives kids an extra energy boost making them eager to learn. Plus, taking a water activity outside is a great way to help minimize the post-activity clean up!

Supplies Needed:

Setting Up the Experiment

Fill a large tub with water and take it outdoors if you can.

Then, either gather together a selection of objects from the garden or send the kids off on a scavenger hunt to find suitable objects for testing (think rocks, watering cans, twigs, leaves, small gardening tools, etc. – there are no right or wrong items).

Draw a grid on a sheet of paper to record predictions and results for each of the objects.

Draw a grid on a sheet of paper to record predictions and results for each of the objects.

Conducting a Garden Sink or Float Experiment

Select an object for testing. Draw or write down the name of the object in the first column on your grid.

Attach the grid for making predictions to a clipboard for kids to write on.

Ask the children to predict whether the object will sink or float when placed on the water.

Encourage them to hold the object in their hands to feel how heavy it is and chat to each other about what they think will happen.

Encourage kids to hold the object in their hands to feel how heavy it is and guess if it will sink or float.

Each child takes a turn placing an object onto the water to see if it sinks or floats. Record the results onto your grid and discuss.

Our Experiment

I had great fun conducting a sink or float experiment outside in our garden with my own three children.

While filling up a deep tub with water, I sent my kids off to have a look around the garden for interesting objects to test in our experiment. They came back with:

  • a skipping rope
  • a rock
  • a flower
  • a watering can
  • a soccer ball
  • a plastic garden fork
  • a small plant pot

They each took a turn selecting an item, which they drew a picture of before predicting what would happen when they placed it into the water.

We predicted whether or not our soccer ball would sink or float.

For our final item, we tried something a little different and did the test in two parts. My daughter had selected her small plastic watering can that they all thought would float, which it did. But then to get them thinking a little more, I asked them to predict what would happen if we filled the watering can with water?

What do you think? Why don’t you have a go with your kids and see if you are right?

We also tested whether or not a small watering can would sink or float.

Results and Conclusions

My kids did a pretty good job with their predictions. They had a little trouble with the plastic fork. It felt heavy to them, leading them to think it would sink when in fact it floated. This proved to be a great talking point as we tried to work out how this surprising result came about.

My kids loved this activity so much that they ran off to find even more objects to test out. The evidence of a successful learning activity!

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