Water is a powerful natural resource that is necessary for all life. Covering almost 3/4 of the earth’s surface, it flows in streams, rivers and oceans and exists in the forms of liquid, solid and gas. It heats and cools our homes, helps our foods grow and provides habitat for all kinds of wildlife.
In the book Water Can Be…, author Laura Purdie Salas and illustrator Violeta Dabija take readers on a thought-provoking journey through the seasons, describing the many roles of water. This poetic voyage provides ample opportunities for conversation about water, with a handy section at the end that helps parents delve more deeply into the scientific concepts. Visit your local library for a copy, and then complete the activities below with your family.
Don’t have the book on hand? No worries! You can do most of the activities without it.
Pie Plate Aquarium
Make your own ocean complete with floating jellyfish and wiggling eels. Find a ceramic pie plate, plastic bowl or glass baking dish. Using dry erase markers, draw ocean creatures on the bottom (or use plastic critters if you have them). Add water to the pan to watch your ocean come to life and begin to float.
Experiment with warm water and cold water. Experiment with different colors and different ways of drawing (thick lines, thin lines, etc.). You can also try making an ocean diorama out of a shoebox and other supplies you have around the house. Compare your ocean habitat to the one on the “home maker” page in Water Can Be. Would you want to live there? How many animals can you count on this page? What do you think the fish at the top of the page are doing?
Corals that make up this coral reef home are actually animals! They might look like rocks or plants, but corals are considered invertebrates (animals without backbones). Coral reefs are like the cities of the seas, with many different types of animals finding shelter, staying safe, having babies and finding food.
Water Cycle in a Bag
Observe the water cycle in action — even on a sunny day. Find an empty glass jar or bottle (a plastic baggie will also work).Draw the ground on the outside of the jar at the bottom with dry erase markers, and add flowers and trees! Draw the sun at the top. Fill the jar a quarter of the way and add a few drops of food coloring, just so you can see the water better. Set your jar in front of the window and watch the water cycle as it goes around and around. As the water warms up in the sun, you’ll start to notice droplets of water up toward the top of the jar. The water has evaporated and condensed into those droplets. As the droplets get fuller and heavier, they’ll “rain” back into the bottom of the jar.
Drips and Drops
Explore how water sticks together. Get a cup of water and add a few drops of food coloring. Use different tools to drip water onto wax paper. Try a small spoon, eyedropper, paintbrush, sponge or any other tool you might have around the house. Which gives you the biggest drops? Try dripping the water from high up or just above the paper. Look closely at the drops on the wax paper. Draw pictures of the shapes you see. Wiggle the wax paper. What happens to the drops? Do they join together? Add sand to your water and see how that affects the size and shape of the drops.
This article originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2019 version of Academy Frontiers, the Academy’s member magazine.