The Sink or Float Game! An Educational Activity for Kids (+ A Giveaway)

sink or float 1
My husband Carleton and I both went to the same college (GO BEARS! CAL FOREVER!) and believe that a solid education is the best gift we can give our daughter. To that end, we like to turn family time into learning time whenever we can. This game of “Sink or Float” is loads of fun (kids love playing with water and making messes, right?), but it’s also really a science experiment in disguise.

We set up a “sink or float” tray, with a bowl of water and two hand-drawn life preservers labeled “sink” and “float.” Then we went around the house to gather test subjects.
gathering test subjects for sink or float

We then taught Scarlet about the scientific method by asking her to share a hypothesis for each item and test it out to see if her hypothesis held water (ha, see how I did that?). Based on the results of her experiment, each thing would be placed in the space labeled for the correct category; either “SINK”
sink

or “FLOAT.”
float

The experiment got really interesting when she decided to test out some juice boxes with varying degrees of juice remaining in them to see if they would float or sink when full, half full, or empty.
juice

The scientist manned her station,

and with a little input from Dad,
with daddy

began her lab work.

Would her hypothesis prove correct? Would she learn anything or get bored? Did her right shoe end up in the water? Did my house end up a total mess? Does she now want to be a scientist when she grows up? Find out the answers to all of this and more, and get inspired to create a day of educational fun for your family after the jump…
Tracking Pixel

Her first hypothesis proved incorrect when the straw did not sink, but floated. She found this very interesting, and was now hooked. Let the games begin!
getting started

Next up came a whole packet of seeds. I had intended for her to remove the seeds and test them individually, but I am not in charge of this experiment. They floated.

Dad took a turn with a popcorn kernel.
popcorn sink
It sank, as predicted.

The head scientist instructed me to take a turn. I chose a feather. She hypothesized that it would float.
feather
She was correct.

We had so much fun predicting what would happen with each new item. She knew shells sat on the ocean floor, so she correctly hypothesized that they would sink in our bowl.
me and s

Soon all grown-ups were banished from the experiment station and Scarlet went at it on her own.
on her own

The toy car sank, and was promptly placed in the “sink” section.

Then she decided it was time to up the ante with the juice experiment.
juicy juice experiment

First up was the full box of apple Juicy Juice. She predicted it would sink.

Correct! This made her very proud.

Next up, a half full fruit punch. She also predicted it would sink.
half full juicy juice
But it didn’t! However, it didn’t quite float either. This piqued her interest.

She moved on to the empty kiwi-strawberry Juicy Juice box. Learning from the previous result, she predicted it would float.

And it did!

Then she had an idea… maybe an empty juice box could work as a boat to hold other items that would normally sink.
juicy juice boat
Also correct!

I thought the juice experiment went quite well and would wrap up now, but she had her own ideas. She went back into the “sink” pile and stuck a straw in the full apple juice,
drink the juice

proceeded to take a sip,
drinking juicy juice

and after each sip, put the juice back in the water, to see at what point it would stop sinking.

I love this kid! What a great experiment she made up on her own!

She continued on her own for awhile, running around the house grabbing stuff to test out.
sink or float 2

Soon things started to go nuts.
shoe

Maybe we had a lesson in spatial relations as well. Does not fit.
plate

The mad scientist took it to another level…

…working on transferring liquids (i.e. making a mess),

and cackling all the while.
happy scarlet

I decided to go with it, since this whole science experiment had her really excited about testing hypotheses, and gave her a turkey baster to play with.
turkey baster
That was a huge hit: recommend.

At the end of our experiment we looked at our results. In the sink category we had:
sank

And in the float column we had:
floated

Overall, a great couple hours spent making science and learning as fun as possible for a kid.
sink or float finished

My favorite part was at the end, when she ordered Daddy and I to sit on the couch and proudly announced “NOW PRESENTING THE SCIENCE OF STUFF PUT IN WATER WITH SCARLET CURTIS!” before sharing her findings.
presenting

This post was inspired by our sponsor, Juicy Juice, who believes that it’s never too early to start a conversation about higher learning. Thank you for inspiring a day of educational fun for me and my family!

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– A set of college gear from the school of your choice
– A copy of “Where the Wild Things Are”
– What Comes Next puzzle
– 1 Juicy Juice multi-serve bottle and 4 8-packs of Juicy Juice boxes

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14 Comments

rebecca at thisfineday

Love this sink or float activity. Could be fun to do in a blow up pool outside for summer! BTW- I went to Cal too and just never left Berkeley after that! Thanks for the post!

Reply
» Giveaways–June 26, 2013

[…] Prudent Baby – a set of college gear from the school of your choice, a copy of Where the Wild Things Are, What Comes Next puzzle, one Juicy Juice multi-serve bottle and four 8-packs of Juicy Juice boxes.  Ends July 2. […]

Reply
juli

What a cute idea! This is a great way to introduce critical thinking to kids while having fun. Love this!

Reply
Jessie C.

Love your idea, I try to keep learning fun by adding elements into fun games as well.

Reply
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Chris

This is relevant and so I thought I’d drop this link to a game that we wrote for this very activity. It’s definitely better with the real materials, but this little app is less mess to clean up! 🙂

There is also an Android version you can find on http://Donkeysoft.ca

Cheers,
Chris.

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