As the weather heats up, children will be happy for the opportunity to cool off. Water can teach simple science concepts about temperature, weight capacity, and color. Here are a few ideas to help tap into water for learning and fun.
Summer splash down
While children laugh and play in a wading pool, they are actually demonstrating phenomena of physics. What causes splashes when you hit the water? It's called displacement. Demonstrate the power of force; the harder they hit the water, the bigger the splash. And what happens when children position their hands differently? The force changes, and so does the size of the splash.
Painting with water
Now give children a bucket filled with water and some paintbrushes. Invite them to "paint" the house. Besides being fun, this activity will build young bodies. Now, what happens to the water they have painted on the walls after a few minutes in the hot summer sun? It disappears and evaporates into the air. It's all part of the same water cycle that affects our weather.
Try to catch water; it just can't be caught in the hands. That is one of the things that makes water so much fun to play with. But it can be caught in containers. Experiment with capacity by exchanging water into different cups, small pitchers, bowls, etc. Ask, "Which containers hold more water?" Fill one container and then pour the water into a different one. Will it fill it to the top?
Ice is nice
Young children are fascinated by the dramatic change in water when it is subjected to a temperature of 32 degrees. Freeze water into fancy ice cubes using containers like muffin tins, candy molds, and play dough molds, anything that holds water. After the freeze, reverse the process and let the children observe the melting stage. Squirt the frozen ice with a baster or squirt bottle filled with warm water. What happens?
Spray bottle painting
For an artistic outdoor activity, fill several pump-type spray bottles with water and add food coloring. Experiment with mixing colors and talk about what makes the colors lighter and darker. Now, attach a large sheet of white paper to a fence. Show the children how to aim the spray toward the paper to create watercolor art. Discuss the importance of aiming the spray away from themselves and other children. Besides the beautiful pictures, the children are strengthening their finger muscles with this project.
When teaching science to young children, provide them with lots of objects to examine from the natural and physical world. One does not have to be "scientifically minded" as most science is common everyday knowledge that is used without thinking all the time.