Grade Levels: K-3

In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about sinking and floating. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Sink or Float topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.

Classroom Activities for Teaching Sink or Float

Sinking Soda
Bring in cans of regular soda and diet soda and have students predict which will sink and float. Have students examine the size of each can, the contents label, and the amount of liquid in each before they explain their predictions. Then drop both cans in a large bowl or tank of water. Have students make and record their observations. Why does the diet soda float? Why does the other soda sink? Have students research the Internet and determine if their predictions were correct. Encourage them to draw conclusions and share their ideas with the class.

Sunken Treasure

Give small groups a bowl of water and a set of waterproof objects such as metal and plastic spoons, toothpicks, bolts, screws, number cubes, small balls, and metal keys. Have students predict which items will float and which will sink. Then have groups discuss their predictions and drop different items into the bowl. Students should sort the floating items from the sinking items. After everyone has completed the experiment, place all the sinking objects into a tank or large pot filled with water. Hide the “sunken treasure” in your classroom or, if possible, the school and draw a map that helps the students find the treasure.

Water Line

Give pairs of students a clear cup of water and small items that sink or float. Remind them that when an object is placed in water, the level will rise. Have them predict how much they think the water will rise for each item. Students should mark the original water level and draw their predictions on the side of the cup. Children can make their predictions based on the weight, shape, size, and density of their objects. They can use different colors of marker to distinguish their own predictions. Then have them drop different items into the cup, make observations, and record their data. Encourage them to measure with a ruler to see how much the water rose.

Sink the Ship

Float a toy boat in a clear tub filled with water. Have students find ways to sink the ship in the tank. Students may wish to add items to weigh the ship down, so it is important that they use items that are waterproof. Explain that you can waterlog the ship by tipping it over and filling it with water. Have students predict why the boat sinks when it tips over. Explain that air inside the ship helps the boat float, but when it tips over, the air escapes and water fills that space. Thus, the boat sinks.

Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching Sink or Float

Boat Float

Have your child make boats out of different materials, such as toothpicks, cork, paper, craft sticks, fabric, and clay. Have him or her make predictions about which boat will sink or float and write them down. Then have him or her try out their boats in a bathtub. Which boat floats? Which boat sinks? Do any boats float for a while, and then sink? Encourage your child to explain what happened. Then have him or her think of ways to make a sinking boat float and vice versa. Allow your child to experiment using different shapes and adding weight to the boats.

Floating Animals

Together go to a local zoo and find animals that float. Animals like ducks, seagulls, beavers, and otters can all float on top of the water and walk on land. Have your child draw comparisons between the animals and write down their observations. Then have your child research on the Internet or at the library about his or her favorite floating animals. What body parts help them float and swim? How long can they hold their breath? How do they stay beneath the surface of the water, and how far do they travel? How much time do they spend in the water? Can their offspring float right away, or do they have to be taught? Encourage your child to think of adaptations the animals have that allow them to live in the water.

Filed as:  Forces, K-3, Science, Sink or Float