Playing with water is a great way to cool off during the half term holidays. Give your water play some direction with these fun, but educational water based activities.
#1 The Leak Proof Bag The experiment involves filling a clear plastic food bag with water, then suspending it underneath your climbing frame or swing set. You then use very sharp pencils, or wooden barbecue food sticks to pierce the bag, from one side straight through the other side.
Before you begin the experiment, explain to your children what you are going to do, and ask them to make a prediction about what will happen once the bag has been run through with the pencils. Most likely they will expect the bag to start leaking in water. In fact what actually happens is that so long as all the pencils remain in place, no water will leak out. This is because the polymers that the bag is made up of are flexible and hug around the pencil creating a watertight seal. When you are finished with the experiment, remove the pencils and the children can cool off under the homemade shower.
#2 Filtering Water In this experiment you will take really dirty water, and filter it using materials you have at home, to turn it into clean water.
Start by getting mucky making a bucket of clean water really dirty, mucky by adding bits of grass, plant matter, soil, and whatever else your children want to mix in.
Then ask them one question: Can we get this water clean again?
To clean the water, you will need to create a homemade filter. For this you need to take a clean flower pot with drainage holes in the bottom. Line the bottom with blotting paper, multiple layers of kitchen paper, or a very clean muslin style cloth. On top of this shovel in some sand, then top off with a layer of gravel at least an inch or two thick. The filter needs to be suspended above another pot to catch the water as it drips through. Pour the dirty water into the top, and after a few seconds of patience, clean (or at least cleaner) water will drip through. You can experiment with improving the cleanliness of the water by passing the mix through the filter a number of times.
#3 Walking Water This is a really simple experiment that you can adapt to try out a number of different hypotheses.
You will need some plastic cups, water, and good quality kitchen towel.
The idea is that you put water in one cup, then an empty cup just a little below it, for example one rung down on a ladder or one step below, and connect the two with kitchen towel (which you may want to cut long ways). The water will travel from one cup to the other.
There are a whole range of ideas you can try out: Race two sets alongside each other, one with hot water and one with cold (the hot water moves faster); try out different food colourings in the water to see if that changes how fast the water moves or what it looks like in the end cup; dissolve some salt in the water first and see what happens.
For more fun outdoor play ideas, including water play activities, visit the Wicken Toys blog.