Fun for (Nearly) Free!

Fun for (Nearly) Free!
Summer time is a great time to play with water. There are so many properties of water children can learn about when they are playing water. Children can learn about the movement of water by making waves, seeing erosion take place, and comparing water pressure when pouring water from two or three different types of containers. Children can learn about the states of water by observing ice form or water evaporating on a hot sidewalk. Children can learn about solutions and mixtures by adding different items to water and observing what happens. So much can be learned by playing with water! My current challenge to child care providers is to set out materials with a water bin, label it the scientific discovery station, and sit back and observe to see what your students will learn about all by themselves! Tell them the only rules are to keep the water in the bin and write down what they learn about water. Provide a clip board (even for non-writers) and let 2-3 students go to the bin for 15-20 minutes each and ask them to write down what they learn. After everyone that wants to has a chance, they can tell their classmates what they learned at the Scientific Discovery Station. Several suggestions are below but do not limit yourself or your students to the following ideas. Always provide a source of water and some way of writing about their discoveries.

Scientific Question Materials
What will float? Assorted Toys and waterproof objects
What will pepper do Pepper, Vegetable oil, food coloring, liquid soap
What colors can we make? Assorted food coloring bottles
What colors can we make? Assorted food coloring bottles
What will dissolve in water? Salt, sugar, kool-aid mix, beans, macaroni, pepper, cinnamon, parsley, oil, etc.
What will water do to types of soil? Small cups of sand, clay and soil, stirrring sticks

For older children in your program, give them the FREE and EXCITING waterfall challenge as follows:

1. Show your students some pictures of decorative waterfalls like the ones pictured here. Ask children to observe the motion of the water and write down everything they say about the water on a chalkboard or piece of chart paper.

2. Find a space where they can attach recycled plastic bottles. A chain link fence is perfect, but a tree or post may work as well. You can also use a piece of pegboard, a piece of plywood, empty crates or a sturdy cardboard boxProvide several recycled plastic bottles with one large cutout along the length of one side of the bottle.
4. Provide ways to attach the bottles to the fence or post or box. I have used cable ties, bungee cords, yarn, etc.
5. Provide notebooks for the students in case they want to document their ideas and plans or other questions they have about water and waterfalls.
6. Give your students the challenge: Build your own waterfall by using at least 5 bottles. Water must fall from the top bottle to the bottom bottle and land in the bin below. You can use more than 5 bottles. Don’t give in to their pleas for help. Encourage them to keep on trying different placements until they come up with a solution of their own. Make a big deal when they succeed, take pictures; have them tell their parents about the process of learning. The parents will be especially proud of them and thankful that you are teaching them to THINK and not just mimic something they saw you do.