Science Programs for Children Ages 4 and 5


  • To introduce the idea of floating and things that float.
  • To introduce the idea of sinking and things that sink.
  • To encourage free play and exploration with water.

Book : (In kit)

  • Water by Frank Asch

Equipment : (In kit)

  • 20 Aprons – child sized
  • 2 Bags of corks (assorted sizes)
  • 12 Dishpans – Rubbermaid
  • 10 Funnels
  • 6 Plastic dish detergent bottles
  • 1 Plastic sifter
  • 4 Sets of stacking cups
  • Towels
  • 4 Turkey basters
  • 9 Water pumps
  • Odds & Ends:
    • brass screws
    • marbles
    • 12 small wood blocks
    • 1yellow plastic coffee scoop
    • 1 metal lid with wooden knob

Consumables : (To be supplied by you)

  • Water (1/8 gallon per 2 children)

Resource Books : (Contact your local library to borrow)

  • Gordon, Maria. Float and Sinkr. Thomas Learning, 1995.
  • Levenson, Elaine. Teaching Children About Physical Science: Ideas and activities every teacher and parent can use. TAB Books, 1994.

Bookmarks : (In kit)

  • Paper copies of the bookmark are included in the kit. PDF and JPEG copies are available here.
    • PDF – 4 bookmarks per page. Ready to print in color.
    • JPG – single high quality jpeg image.


  • Objectives
    • To introduce the idea of floating and things that float.
    • To introduce the idea of sinking and things that sink.
    • To encourage free play and exploration with water.
  • Introduction
    • Read WATER by Frank Asch.
    • Talk about where we find water, how it is used.
    • Demonstrate with different things to decide what will float and what sinks. Does metal always sink? Turn metal lid upside down and float it like a boat. Does plastic always float? Fill a plastic container with water and watch it sink.
    • See if children can figure out that an object needs air to float and then try some different ways to trap the air so it floats. Have children guess if it is a floating or sinking object.\
    • Show how the pump works. Prime the pump – you need to take the air out of it before the water will flow through it. NOTE: For this to work effectively, the water needs to be deeper than the yellow or red plunger at the bottom – approximately one-third the way up the cylinder. This is about ½ – 1 gallon of water in a dishpan.
    • Show how the turkey basters work – you must force the air out before the water can flow in. Water and air cannot occupy the same space.
    • Encourage free play in the water with lots of combinations of the play things. See what will hold sinkable items so they float. Can we get corks to sink at all?
  • General
    • If you are working at a table, be sure it is low enough for the children to have the dishpans at waist level so they can reach in easily.
    • If the tables are too high, have the dishpans on the floor instead. The floor will likely be quite wet.
    • Aprons – useful if the children are standing, but not really needed or effective if children are kneeling on the floor. Please be sure aprons are thoroughly dry before folding them for storage.
    • Rags – if working on tables, it is pretty easy to mop up and squeeze the water back into the dishpans as you go. This prevents major flooding. (We have done this program on low tables in a carpeted library with no noticeable water on the rug.)
    • Sharing – There is less mess if each child gets a dishpan, but there is more creative interaction and challenge to try something different if they do share.
    • If space and equipment allow, it works well to put the children around the table or in a circle on the floor with an extra empty dishpan or two in the middle to hold the equipment not currently in use. This allows for a nice exchange of things since anyone can take from the center and it keeps objects from dripping freely on the table or floor.


Please print this evaluation, complete it and return to MVLS in the SWS red envelope.

Topics | About the Kits | Lending Policy

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