Water Absorption Tray

Water is a fantastic “chemical” to do science experiments and investigations with.  I love this Water Absorption Investigation Tray for toddlers and preschoolers.  Easy to set up with whatever you have at home and it’s sure to keep your little ones interested for a while.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Small tray/plate or cookie sheet
  • cup of water (I added color to mine because colors make everything more fun!)
  • dropper
  • Materials to test (we used: cloth towel, paper towel, styrofoam, plastic wrap, foil, sponge, cotton pads)


Cut your materials into small sizes for testing.  Arrange them on the tray with a cup of water and a dropper.


Give the tray to your child and ask them what they think will happen when water is dripped onto each material.  With older children ask them to explain why.  Let them test each material individually.  Ask them if their prediction was right.  Let them explore.

Some materials absorbed and soaked up the water.

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Some materials did not absorb the water and formed “blobs”.

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There was some pouring and some squeezing as they tested each of their materials.

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This was perfect for toddlers as well as preschoolers.  And you can use whatever you have at home and repeat over and over again.

The Science Behind the Activity:

I love activities like this because they are open ended and require no instructions for kids.  Using droppers helps strengthen those little fingers in preparation for writing as well as developing fine motor skills.  Testing each material individually and watching what happens helps them with cause and effect.  Several of the tots were surprised at how the water droplets behaved differently on the different materials.   The exploration was so fun to watch as some poured, some used droppers, and some squeezed out the sponges and towels.  One little boy had fun dragging the “blob” of water around on the sytrofoam.  SO MUCH learning to be had from a simple little tray filled with scraps of paper, plastic and fabrics.

Visit this link to see where I got my “wet” idea from: http://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/preschool-water-science-experiment/

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