Find resources / Activities / Floating and sinking — Te tere me te totohu Activity

Provide a safe place for tamariki to play with things that float and sink in water.

Why do it?

So that tamariki can:

  • enjoy a play and learning activity indoors or outside
  • have an opportunity to predict and test ideas
  • experience the fun and soothing effects of water play
  • strengthen expressive language by building their vocabulary of terms related to floating, sinking and water play.

How to do it

  • Make sure the situation is safe for your tamaiti. Water play needs close supervision at all times.
  • You’ll need some water in a container — for example, a bath, basin, bowl, bucket, puddle or rock pool.
  • You’ll need things to test — ask your tamaiti to help collect some nearby things that are okay to get wet.
  • Items from home could be a wooden block, a plastic lid, a peg, a cork, a sock, a metal spoon, a flower or some leaves.
  • At the beach you could collect small stones, shells, sticks, feathers, pumice, some seaweed or leaves.
  • Have them hold each thing one at a time and ask them what they think will happen when they put it into the water.
  • Ask them, ‘Why do you think that happened?’
  • Try all the things you collected to see what floats and what sinks — you could help them to group the items.
  • If your tamaiti is still interested, you can think and talk about what the things that float or sink have in common with each other.
  • If you’re playing in a bucket, bowl or a bath, explore what happens to the water level when something big sinks to the bottom. If you can make a mark on the bucket before and after, you can measure the difference the sinking object makes to the water level. This is called ‘water displacement’.
  • In the bath, notice what happens to the water level when someone gets in (and out) of the water.
  • Share picture books such as, Who Sank the Boat?, Mr Archimedes’ Bath and Alexander’s Outing, all by Pamela Allen.

Will the […] float ?

Ka taea e te [...] te tere?

The […] won’t float

E kore te [...] e tere?

Will the […] sink ?

Ka taea te [...] te totohu?

The […] won’t sink

E kore te [...] e totohu

Bath

Tāpu kaukau

Bucket

Pākete

Puddle

Tōhihi

Basin

Peihana

Bowl

Kumete

Rock pool

Papawai

Stone

Kōhatu

Shell

Anga

Stick

Rākau

Feather

Awe

Seaweed

Rimurimu

Leaves

Rau

Wooden cube

Rākau tapaono

Plastic lid

Taupoki parahitiki

Plastic peg

Tīmau parahitiki

Wooden peg

Tīmau rākau

Cork

Takawiri

Spoon

Koko

The feather can float

Ka taea e te awe te tere

The feather won’t sink

E kore te awe e totohu

The stone will sink

Ka taea te kōhatu e totohu

The stone won’t float

E kore te kōhatu e tere