Observing the Properties of Liquids
Essential Question(s):
Can water that looks different actually be the same amount?
Estimated Time Required:
About 40 minutes
Assemble the following materials:
  • 2 water glass containers with different shapes: for example, one tall & thin and one short and wide
  • a pitcher of water
  • food coloring (optional)
  • a copy of the Activity Sheet
  • pencil
  • crayons or markers
  • Ziploc baggies in two different sizes (optional)
It can be exciting to witness young children “discover” seemingly contradictory physical properties.  For example, for most four year olds, and many five year olds, anyone who is taller than they are, is by definition older, because they are bigger.  This learning activity introduces young children to the fundamental properties of mass and matter by asking the question: “Can water that looks different, actually be the same amount?”. Here is what to do:
  1. Fill a pitcher with water. If you have food coloring, pick a color and add a few drops. It will be easier to see the levels of the water if it is a color.
  2. Together with your child, fill one of the glass containers with water, and “record” the level of water on your activity sheet.
  3. Pour the water from the first glass container into the second glass container and “record” the level of the water on your activity sheet.
  4. Fill in the answers on the checklist and “discover” that, despite how the water looks in each glass, both glasses had the same amount.
  5. Repeat the same process using “zip-lock” baggies of different sizes. Print another Activity Sheet. Pour water into bag one, hold up the bag and see how full it is, and draw a picture of the baggie. Pour the water into the second baggie, and draw it.
  6. This activity is a wonderful opportunity for you and your child to practice the scientific method by asking a question, making predictions, observing, recording your findings and then thinking about what you saw.
This activity was designed by Julie Matz.
The raindrop clip art on the activity page was accessed from the Clips Ahoy Web site .
Observing for information
  Properties of Liquids
Grade Level(s)
• Pre-K
• Kindergarten
• 1st Grade