34 Exploring Water with Young Children
• What happened when you lifted the funnel up? Put the end of the tube in
the baster? Squeezed the squirt bottle under water?
• What did it look like? What did you notice about what happened to the
• Did the same thing happen to anyone else? How was your experience
Conduct weekly science talks with the whole group.
Use your sketches or photos of children’s exploration to initiate a
conversation about what children are noticing.
You might ask or say something like this:
• Justicia, what were you doing in this picture? Where did the water go?
How did you help it to get there?
Invite children to compare experiences. You might say something like
• Whoelse used the squirt bottles? Tell us about it.
• Did anyone else discover the bubbles coming out of the baster? Tell us what
Transition from Open Exploration
to Focused Exploration
When children areengaged in open exploration, they notice, wonder,
and ask general questions about water.Children’squestions areex-
pressed in actions and words. For example, during open exploration, a
child may reach for a funnel to fill a tube. Or a child might say,“Let’s
use this baster to squirt the water up.”
During a focused exploration, children plan an investigation that
focuses on a question that is central to their particular interest. They
make new observations and record and represent their experiences.
They reflect on their actions and look for patterns and relationships.
Often these reflections lead them to ask new questions. These experi-
ences can also lead to the formulation of new understandings or
theories based on the evidence they have gathered.
When children begin to focus their observations and ask specific
questions about how water behaves, they may be ready for focused
exploration. Herearesome samples of morespecific questions chil-
dren may begin to ask: Will this skinny tube move water faster than
this fatter one? Do drops always run down? How can I get water to
move up? Do all heavy things sink?
If most of your children have been engaged in water play a number
of times over the past few weeks, many of them may have developed a
particular interest. Here are some signs to look for to determine which
children might like to pursue a more focused question or exploration:
Teacher note: Yesterday Reggie
and Rey played gas station at the
water table. Empty bottles be-
came cars, and they filled the
cars up with gas by putting hoses
into the bottles and pouring water
into the other end of the hose. I
jotted down the pieces of their
conversation that related to their
experiences controlling the flow of
the gas, and I took a few photo-
graphs too. During today’s science
talk I invited the two boys to talk
about the photos, and I read aloud
atranscript of their conversation.
The boys told us thatthe gas
didn’t get into the cars very well—
it spilled, and it went slow, and
then stopped. I asked the group to
help make a list of things the boys
might do to keep the gas from
spilling and to help it move faster.
We posted the finished list next to
the water table:
• Use a funnel at the end of the
tube and then pour the gas.
• Use a baster to squirt the gas
into the cars.
• Shake the gas when it’s in the
tube and get it to go in the car.
I’ll refer to the list for the next
few days as children explorethe
Reggie:The gas is spilling—it’s
spilling! Hey, you can’t spill the
gas! I’ll get a bigger car. Look! It’s
going in, but you have to go faster.
Rey:I’m going fast! The gas goes
slow.Ihave to stop to fill up the
Reggie:Let me do it. Let me go
faster. This goes too slow. Pour it
with something else.