This easy water displacement experiment is a fun way to show teach toddlers and preschoolers about water displacement. Using stones and a jug of water, kids will see with their own eyes how water is displaced when an object is submerged in it. It’s a terrific activity to do after reading the book The Crow and the Pitcher too!
When it comes to science experiments for preschoolers, I like to keep things simple and affordable, using items we already have around the house. This water displacement experiment will show you how to use a simple water play activity to teach a scientific concept to young children.
What is water displacement?
Water displacement happens when an object is submerged in a fluid and the fluid is pushed out of the way (or displaced) to make room for the object. The amount of water displaced is directly related to the volume of the object.
How to demonstrate water displacement to children
An easy way for children to see the displacement of water is to give them a container of water and have them add objects to the water so they can see the water level rising in the container. A fun way to do this is with the simple water displacement activity I’m showing you today.
We have quite a large collection of stones for play so it was easy to pull this activity together, and the hooligans had so much fun with it!
If you think back to your childhood, you may recall a popular fable called The Crow and the Pitcher. It was one of my favourite fables. It’s a tale about a thirsty crow whose beak did not reach far enough into a half-full pitcher of water for him to get a drink.
Thankfully, the he knew a think or two about water displacement. Being the crafty crow that he was, he dropped stones into the pitcher to raise the level of the water until it was high enough for him to get a drink.
To demonstrate water displacement to my daycare hooligans, we re-created that story here today using a a few stones, a plastic container and a toy turtle.
You can purchase The Crow and the Pitcher here with my Amazon affiliate link if you’d like to read it to your children before doing this experiment.
Items needed for your water displacement activity:
- a clear, plastic container
- stones and rocks
- plastic toy
- permanent marker
Conducting our water displacement experiment:
We experimented with a few different containers, and discovered that the one with the largest opening worked best.
We filled our container with water, and I marked the level of the water on the container so we could monitor our progress.
Then I hooked a plastic toy turtle to the top of the container, and the fun began.
The children worked together, dropping the stones into the container.
More easy science activities for toddlers and preschoolers:
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.