SKILLS: Children will learn about weight, volume, and the changing properties of wet and dry sand.
- table or basin of sand
- sand shovels, scoops, and spoons
- plastic containers of different sizes, such as yogurt cups, buckets, and margarine tubs
- chart paper and marker
- basin or bucket of water
- strainers or sieves
- sand/water wheel
1 Invite a small group of children to join you at the sand table. Provide them with sand toys to investigate the sand. Encourage them to describe what they are doing and how the sand feels.
2 Encourage children to fill different containers with sand. Ask them to estimate how many scoops of sand it will take to fill a yogurt cup, a sand bucket, and so on. Write their estimates on a piece of chart paper and invite them to fill the containers to see if their guess was correct.
3 Bring a bucket or basin of water to the sand area. Ask children what they think will happen if they add water to the sand. Fill a small plastic container or measuring cup with water and invite a child to pour it into the sand. Ask: "What happens to the sand? How does the wet sand feel? Does the wet sand look the same as the dry sand?"
4 Explain to children that you would like to keep one side of the sand table dry and one side wet so they can investigate the difference. Pour water onto the wet sand area until it is well saturated. Encourage children to use the sand toys to investigate the wet and dry sand.
5 Ask children to pour dry sand into a strainer or sieve. What happens to the sand? Now invite them to pour wet sand into the same object. What happens? Place a sand/water wheel into the sand table. Ask children to investigate the wheel using both types of sand and to discuss their findings.
For younger children: Give them plenty of time to explore wet and dry sand. Can they work together to create sand castles, forts, and tunnels that will hold their shape?
For older children: Using the same containers children filled earlier with dry sand, ask them if they think the same number of scoops of wet sand will fill the same container. Record children's estimates before inviting them to conduct their investigation. Assist children in counting the number of scoops. Compare their guesses with the actual amount of scoops.
Weigh the sand. Give the children a pan-balance scale, cups, and wet and dry sand. Using two cups of equal size, invite children to fill one with wet sand and the other with dry sand. Ask them to guess which cup of sand will be heavier. Place each cup on either side of the scale. Did they guess correctly? Ask children to place cups of dry sand onto the scale until the balance is equal.