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A comprehensive science program focuses on the elements of SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY:

star engage, notice, wonder, question

'' observe, clarify questions

star investigate - plan, predict, collect data, reflect, ask new questions

star share, discuss, draw conclusions

Exploring Water with Young Children

Every child (and adult!) is a natural scientist. Every time a child observes natural events, objects or materials, she is doing science. Every time a child wonders, asks questions, makes a prediction or uses scientisthis senses to note the world around him, he is doing science.

We have instituted a new series of professional development meetings this school year, based around the "Young Scientist" series by Ingrid Chalufour and Karen Worth.* Selected teachers participated in a "book club", sharing ideas through discussion with their peers about how to implement "Exploring Water" with their students. Please browse and enjoy the wonderful photos, stories, and student work documentation they have shared throughout this experience...

Phase One of the project is designing a water area and stocking it with materials to explore water flow, drops, sinking and floating...



Parents are Involved!

Stephanie Rad Quintana shared this sample letter to parents with us:

Letter Home - Water Exploration

Check back for more ideas to get families involved

Phase Two is called Open Exploration...

water area shelf with books, photos and materials
Dilma Reyes at Florida City Elem. used a bookshelf to display books about water and lots of interesting, inviting water exploration materials.

indoor outdoor water area
Stephanie Rad Quintana at Air Base Elem. uses both indoor and outdoor spaces for water exploration.

water table and tub
A water table and tubs with plenty of tubing and a "wire water wall" are basic materials for exploration of the "flow" of water.

water materials on shelf with shammy
Michelle Skalski at Tropical Elem. labeled materials with photos and lined the shelf and tubs with "shammy" material to soak up extra drips!

clear tubs attached to outdoor fence
Lorie Machado Tarrio from Miami Heights used tie wraps to attach clear tubs to the fence outside her classroom.

clear tubs attached to outdoor fence
The tubs can then be tilted up to be drained and stored.

child writes class rules for water area on a chart

At Norland Elementary, in Joann Greene's class, a fter completing a science discussion group, the class develop the rules for the water table. David transferred the rules to chart paper.

rules chart with picture symbols
A peer then added Boardmaker symbols so all the children can understand the rules.


children at norland elem exlpore water at the water table

children at norland elem exlpore water at the water table

The children have been very interested in the soap pump bottle in the house area and last week I added three bottles to the water table, as well as some dish soap and several different-sized containers for pouring, filling and dumping. I snapped lots of photos and took lots of real short videos.  We used these at recall time. The kids were thrilled to see themselves doing a lot of different things with the water, and I was able to use a lot of present and past tense verbs.  I am trying to use some questions to help the children make predictions. I could go on and on...

- Linda Alvarez, Half-Day Reverse Mainstream class at Norland Elementary

children at the water table with tube and funnel
teacher pours water through the colander while children watch

Cesar and Laura work together to attach the funnel in the tube and they succeed.  They discovered that water comes out the end of the tube as they pour water down into the funnel.

The children watched as the stream of water turned to drops as it flowed through the colander.
- Dilma Reyes, Half Day Reverse Mainstream class at Florida City Elem.

At each step of the exploration, children are encouraged to represent their experiences by drawing, painting, sculpting, or using their bodies to show how water flows, forms drops, etc.


The Teacher's Role

'' create a science-rich environment

'' engage children in water exploration

'' focus and deepen children's experiences and thinking through specific questioning and discussion techniques

'' conduct periodic "science talks" in a large group

'' document children's work with photos, videos, anecdotes/written observations, dicatation of children's stories, documentation panels, etc.

'' collect data regarding children's Science Inquiry Skills and Science Concepts

'' involve families with engaging ideas to try at home or ways they can share at school

'' invite guests to the class who have particular knowledge to share regarding water, ex: plumber, boat captain, dog groomer...

'' plan outings to experience water in different environments, ex: park, aquarium, school grounds after it rains...








Water table area labels in multiple formats (courtesy of Michelle Skalski of Tropical Elem.)

Water Table Labels (zipped folder)

Boardmaker boards for water exploration (courtesy of Mary Olson of Gulfstream Elem.)

Water Sinking and Floating

Water Table Symbols

Water Sink and Float Chart


Children in Dilma Reyes's class at Florida City Elem. are encouraged to draw the drops that they observe.

children's drawings of drops
The children's drawings of drops are displayed in the water area for future reference and to acknowledge their ideas.

painting of water flow
Jason painted the flow of water and he said, "Agua cae para abajo." (The water goes down.")

* The authors are part of a team from the Education Development Center, Inc., which was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.