Floating Along 

Exploring the scientific concepts of “sink” and “float” in natural bodies of water


Through this lesson children will explore the scientific concept of

“sink” and float.” They will practice making predictions, engage in

trial-and-error experimentation, and analyze results to make conclusions

and evaluate their original hypothesis 


Clipboards for every two children  


Access to body of natural water














Introduce the nature walk 

  1. Introduce the lesson by saying, “Today we are going on a nature walk to explore what objects do in water” 

  2. Ask them if they have ever noticed anything in water. Was it in the bottom of the water? Or was it floating on top? 

  3. Introduce the vocabulary words sink and float and explain their meanings 

  4. Tell children that the focus of the nature walk will be to find objects in a nature and investigate whether or not they sink or float 


Walk to the water while stopping to collect natural objects  

  1. As you walk stop and collect items such as rocks, leaves, twigs, acorns, bark, and pinecones 

  2. Discuss the properties of the objects you find and make predictions about whether they will sink or float


Arrive at the water and observe its properties 

  1. See mindfulness prompts


Let children experiment with dropping their items in the river and observing whether they sink or float 

  1. invite children to record their findings on paper using tally marks 

  2. Invite them to count how many objects sank and how many floated 


Discuss the properties of the items that sink and the items that float 

  1. What were children’s original predictions? What actually happened?

To expand on learning inside the home fill your sensory table with water and let children experiment with ‘sink and float’ with indoor materials

Questions to Ask

  • What do you notice about the objects that sink? What do you notice about the objects that float?

  • Do you think that some items sink faster that others? Why?

  • Why do you think some items float for a short time and then start to sink?


Mindfulness Prompts 

  • Careful observation of the water When you arrive at the water for the sink or float experimentation first invite children to sit with the river for a listening mediation. Invite the children to close their eyes and listen closely to their surroundings - listening to the river if it’s running, listening to the birds, the splashes of fish. After the mediation ask the children about the different sounds they heard.

  • Don’t forget to thank the water and your natural surroundings for the learning they provided


Considering Developmental a Spectrum

  • Children with autism, language delays, and other developmental delays may need time to experiment with the cause and effect of dropping objects rather than the more abstract concept of sink and float 

Image by Daiga Ellaby