Sinking & Floating Activities on a Water Table for Toddlers

Toddlers love to explore and they love new concepts. Giving your child a water table is even more exciting, because this is something unusual! Games and activities involving floating or sinking objects teaches concepts such as math and science. Help to build early science concepts such as water structure and math concepts such as mass and weight distribution through water table activities.

Chart It!

This game is not only fun, it shows toddlers how to associate a picture with an object. It also introduces early math skills. Create a chart. On the left side of the chart, draw the object which you will put in the water, such as a ball, a rock, or a rubber duck. Write the description of the object beneath the picture. Draw a line under the description all the way across the paper. Across the top of the paper, write the words "Sink" or "Float." Drop the objects in the water one by one then check off whether it sinks or floats. This game will teach the child early concepts related to mass. Objects to use include empty cups, toy cars, ducks, spoons and toy boats.


This activity is fun to watch as your toddler explores how it works. Use some plastic foam cups on water slightly deeper than the height of the cup. Place the cup face up on the water so it floats slightly. Let the toddler float the cup on the water surface 1. After a few minutes, give him something heavier than the cup, such as a toy car, and show him how to put it in the cup. The cup no longer floats! Watch what your toddler will do next with the cup. Will it be a boat? Will his favorite superhero float across the broad seas? This activity teaches the child early scientific concepts such as water displacement and early math concepts related to weight.

Fresh and Salty

It's true -- salt water holds things differently than fresh water. Fill two tables with equal amounts of salt water and fresh water. Let your toddler help you with this so she knows there's a difference. Using different colored tables or containers will also help her differentiate. Grab some things that float or sink, such as rubber ducks, toy cars and toy boats, then compare between the two tables. Make waves and see what floats better when the water is moving. The objects will float easier in the fresh water. This activity helps introduce scientific concepts, such as density, as well as math ideas, including mass. Your toddler will love switching between the different types of water.

Cargo Contest

How much water can you put in a cup or on a boat before it sinks? Find out with your toddler! Gather a boat or cup and put it in the water. Count objects, such as a heavy toy cars or blocks, with your toddler as you add them to the container. When does it sink? Talk through the activity so your toddler understands why you are adding objects. Your toddler will love finding out how much it will take to make the item sink. In fact, after the activity, let your toddler explore and find out for himself exactly what he needs to make that object reach the bottom of the container!