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Explore and Play: Water Globes

Put tiny objects in a bottle of water, flip it over, and see what happens.


  • clear plastic soda bottles, with bottle cap and label removed (one per child)
  • small objects that float: sequins, Styrofoam pieces, beads, small pieces of plastic straws
  • small objects that don’t float: buttons, glitter, paper clips, pennies
  • water
  • (for extension) a snow globe or picture of one downloaded from the Internet


Tell children that they will add water and different small objects to a bottle and see if they float or sink. Pass out the bottles and have children fill them almost to the top with water. Invite children to choose small objects to add to their bottles. Have them close the cap tightly.

  1. Have them flip the bottle over, hold it still, and see what happens: do the objects float or sink? Have them try it a few more times. Do the same objects sink or float?  
  2. Ask children to talk about what they notice.
    • Which things go up and which things go down?
    • Which things float down slowly, and which ones go down quickly? Why do you think that’s so? 
    • What are other ways you can experiment with the bottle? (Lay it on its side and see what happens; shake it up, then let it settle.)
  1. Have children trade bottles so they can see what others added to their bottles. Store the bottles in the Art Center.


Ask children if they’ve ever seen a snow globe. If so, have them describe what was in it.  Show them one (or a picture). Ask them why they think the flakes look like snow—is it just their color? Tell them that they can reuse their bottles to create the same beautiful effect by filling the bottles with glitter, sequins, and a little food coloring.