• Invite reluctant explorers to hold a tube or funnel for you or one
of their friends.
• Place an “observer’s chair” near the water table for children who
may want to watch the water play for a day or two before they
join in. Engage the observer with comments about what’s hap-
pening at the water table. For example: “Wow! Did you see that?
They made the water come out of that tube like a faucet. I won-
der how they did that.”
Look at books about water.
Use one or two pages from books with large photographs or drawings
of water to help individuals, small groups, or your whole group of
children reflect on their open exploration. Ask children to compare
what they’ve experienced with water with what they see in the photo-
graphs. Ask follow-up questions like these:
• What do you notice about how the water seems to be moving in this pic-
ture? Have you done anything like that with water?
• Look at how the illustrator drew the shape of the water in this picture. Have
you ever seen water look like that?
Look at moving water outdoors.
Tell children that during choice time you will take turns bringing
small groups of children for a walk around the school building (or
outside if it is raining or has rained recently) so they can look for
water. Remind children that water can be found in many different
places. You might ask questions like these:
• Wheredo you think we’ll see water?
• What do you think it will look like?
• Where do you think we will find puddles? Drips? Streams?
Bring a camera, if possible, and clipboards with paper and markers
attached. If it’ssafe to do so, have children sit and draw what they
see when they find pipes or evidence of water. Outside, invite chil-
dren to sit and draw a roof, gutters, and downspouts.
Reflect and Discuss
With small groups during choice time, and in weekly science talks
with the whole group for ten to fifteen minutes, share water play
Conduct small group discussions during choice time.
Every couple of days, join children at the water table or the water
center for a few minutes before choice time ends. Ask children to tell
you about their play and use follow-up questions like these to focus
their thinking on the effects their use of materials has on water.
Open Exploration 33
Issue:My children are always splashing
Response:Controlling water is not
easy for young children. Unexpected
splashes will happen. But if children
are purposefully splashing each other,
you need to reiterate clear rules, redi-
rect their play, and, as a last resort,
remove children from the area for the
day if they cannot or will not stop.
Teacher note: Summer loves the
water table and the collage table.
After she’d observed bubbles one
day and I’d printed some photos
of her exploration, I engaged her
at the collage table. She used our
photos to make a three-dimen-
sional representation of her dis-
covery. Then I asked her if she
would draw me a picture of what
happened. She agreed! As she told
me about her drawing, I wrote
down her words: “I took the cup
and screwed the cover on it and I
scooped up the water with a
shovel into the cup, all the way to
the top of the cup. I put a funnel in
the hole and tipped it over slowly.
The water came out. Therewere
bubbles inside the cup while the
water was coming out.”