Open Exploration: Exploring Water

Your Turn!

Gather materials together, including:

  • Measuring cups

  • Turkey baster

  • Funnel

  • Tubes

  • Objects that can sink or float, try a penny, an apple, small figurines, wooden blocks

Try out the materials in a container of water.

Think about

  • What can you make the water do? 

  • How can the different tools manipulate the water?

  • How can you make the water move from one place to another? 

  • How do the objects act in the water? 

Draw what you see.



What questions about water do you still have?

How was the documentation process helpful?


Beginning Open Exploration in Your Classroom


Open Exploration of Water at Kenilworth Elementary School, Washington, DC

Now that you have had a chance to explore the materials, it is time to introduce Exploring Water to your students.

Week 1: Observing everyday water.

  • Introduce water during circle time. What do students know about water? Ask them to list what they can do with water and write them on a chart.

  • Show the students images of all different kinds of uses for water.

  • For a literacy connection, read a story that features water, such as Peter Spier's Rain.

  • Go on a neighbhorhood walk or a walk around your school. What do they see? Perhaps there are puddles. Maybe it is raining - that is a great time to go on a water exploration walk!

  • Locate gutters on buildings. When the rain falls on the roof, water goes down the gutter! 

žWeek 2: Get your hands wet! 

  • Meet with students during circle time to come up with classroom rules.

  • Allow students to go in groups to the water tables and explore the materials.

  • Observe the students, asks guiding questions such as, "What are you doing with the water?" or "What do you notice about the water?," etc. 

  • Continue observation until you see students becoming familiar with the materials and asking questions about their discoveries.


Students may explore all different areas of water exploration right away, sink and float, flow, or even drops. This is ok. When the time feels right, tease out one of these challenges at a time for your students to focus their attention. This is the transition into Focused Exploration.