Join me on my quest to keep a toddler entertained in my garden and home, with nature as our inspiration, and with fun (and a bit of learning!) as our goal. My 2 and ½ year old will test out these simple and easy-to-do-at-home activities; we’ll let you know the results, and would love to hear how you get on, too. I’ll offer some Outdoor Learning Top Tips on how to adapt the activities for older children, and suggest what skills each activity helps you and your child explore. All the activities are simple, use mostly things you will find in and around your home, and will be free, and will hopefully help to keep you both entertained (and sane!) a they have done for me. Enjoy!
Float or Sink?
An activity that explores what items sink, and what items float, when put into water.
What you’ll need:
A container to hold water (see-through is best, but not a must)
A basket or box to collect things in
Items found in your garden and home (the possibilities are endless…)
A change of clothes and a towel!
Collect some small items from around the garden and/or your home (that you don’t mind getting wet) and gather them in a basket or box.
Fill your water container – it works really well if you can find a see-through one so you can watch things sink to the bottom – fill it with water, and get ready to experiment!
One by one, ask your toddler to drop an item in the water. See if they can tell you whether an item might float or sink before they put it in.
Top tips (that we learnt along the way):
- Remove items from the water as you go – this helped us to focus more on the item being put in, rather than what was already in there.
- Help to select a few items yourself, especially ones you know might give a surprising result – the real lemon worked great for us – it sank, and then slowly bobbed up and down before settling just below the surface.
- For early or pre-talkers try to repeat phrases like ‘it sinks’ or ‘it floats’ rather than using a combination of sank, sunk, sink, etc. This will help them to grasp the concept more easily, and pick up the words if they are new to them.
- Repeat the activity with the same items (adding more if you want) to see if your toddler can remember what each one does, and maybe even start to tell you.
- Try the same activity at bath time (perhaps with different items!)
Oscar loved collecting different items from around the garden, especially after being told we were going to drop them all into water.
Keeping him focused on collecting items was a bit challenging at times, but once the water container came out, he got really excited and proudly bought his basket of scavenged items over ready for the dunk.
Oscar definitely didn’t fully grasp the activity first time round, and didn’t readily use the words ‘float’ and ‘sink’ to describe what was happening. After taking them all out and starting again a couple of times, he was starting to predict/remember what each item does before dropping them in, and talking about it.
For older ones –
- Have a go at predicting what each item might do before you put any in the water, and then record the results! Can you make a sinking item float? Or a floating item sink?
- Can you select only items that will sink? Then only items that will float?
What we used:
A lump of mud
A plastic lemon
A real lemon
Piece of rotten wood
A lump of moss
A piece of bark
A large leaf
Good luck and let us know how you get on.
Landscape Connections Project Officer