Exploring what will float or sink in preschool

We have been exploring transportation and of course, boats were on the list. I didn’t have any toy boats but no worries – we discovered that there are other materials that can float across the water…

The children used Styrofoam trays for their “boats”. Our “river” was quite congested at times with all the boating traffic…

Before adding our Styrofoam boats, we talked about what might float and what might sink in the water. I set out some of our “math tokens” for the children to test in the water…

Oh and in case you are wondering what the white stuff is floating around in the water – that is “snow” that we had leftover in the tub from our snow globe sensory.  The kids didn’t want to wait for me to rinse all the snow out so we had snowy water….

We discovered that our plastic lids can float but our cars and the seashells sank to the bottom of the tub….

To help the cars float across the river, we discovered that the cars could be placed on top of our boats and they wouldn’t sink…

I’m glad I never stopped to pick up any toy boats because these Styrofoam trays actually made great boats and they were great for exploring what sinks and floats!

Fun and Simple!

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By |2012-01-11T00:21:20+00:00January 11th, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Thummarat Natehin January 11, 2012 at 2:40 am - Reply

    We always played sink&float in our bathroom at our bathtime.
    Extreme fun simple and excited.
    My kid love it.

  2. Esther January 11, 2012 at 8:41 am - Reply

    Simple and exciting!
    Water play is super hit activity @our home
    I make lot of origami paper boats and my daughter loves to float them in the water!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 11, 2012 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      I am going to have to learn how to make origami boats!

  3. Chrissy @ The Outlaw Mom Blog January 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    How timely! We were just watching this experiment on Sesame Street today 🙂 Time to put our lessons into action!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 11, 2012 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      Haha – I love Sesame Street!

  4. Susan Syddall January 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    This is a great activity!
    We did it recently as well but, like you, had no boats. Ended up using tinfoil to fashion boats which worked well. Sinking and floating is terrific fun!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 11, 2012 at 9:57 pm - Reply

      Tin foil is a great alternative too! I hadn’t thought of that!

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