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Splish, Splash, Sink, and Float! Testing Buoyancy Builds Babies’ Skills

Photo by AzmanL / iStock
Photo by AzmanL / iStock

By Rachel Ward

Flowing, falling, swishing, trickling, dripping, dropping, and of course, splashing—the sound and sight of water is absolutely fascinating to infants. And for good reason! Water is a completely unique substance in the world, and also happens to be introduced fairly early, making it one of the first new things babies experience (oh, the baby bath in the sink: priceless). Not to mention, water is a great way to build babies’ science and motor skills.

That’s why this month, we’re including plenty of opportunities for water play—and one of our favorites is encouraging infants to drop different items into water to see if they sink or float.

“By handling different items like plastic boats, balls, or wooden blocks, babies are exploring textures, which is a proven brain-builder. They’re also getting some hands-on practice at building motor skills (i.e., using muscles) in their hands and arms, which helps them prepare for physical milestones like crawling,” says Linda Nelson from KinderCare’s Education team.

This Activity Builds Babies’ Motor Skills and Offers Early Science Lessons

Watching babes’ eyes pop as they see some things sink and some float is always fun—and as they practice early experimentation, they’re also getting a chance to splish, splash, and swirl their hands in water to discover how it moves and flows.

And guess what? This is early science skills in the making!

“By playing with and splashing in water, infants are developing an understanding of its structure,” explains Nelson. “By dropping items into water, they’re also learning a crucial early science skill: cause and effect, which means that they’re beginning to understand that their actions can cause things to change.”

We’re keeping the learning going in our centers, and there are many ways you can do the same quickly and easily at home. Try some of our ideas!

4 Fun Ways to Build Your Baby’s Science and Motor Skills Right at Home

Photo by ChristinLola / iStock
Photo by ChristinLola / iStock

1. Dig into the sandbox

Yes, even infants find a whole lot of joy in that nitty-gritty substance called sand. Plop your little guy or gal down into the sandbox, and hand over a teeny-tiny bucket or shovel. As they use their tools, they’re building motor skills and seeing the effects of their actions when they, say, dump the bucket of sand over. Try more sandy science ideas here.

2. Let there be light! Play with a flashlight

If they need help, go ahead and assist—your babe will be in awe as they discover that long, thin tube can make light on demand with just the push of a button!

3. Bring out that babyhood classic: the pot and wooden spoon

On a day when you’re feeling particularly relaxed (you never know how long baby may find making banging sounds a fascinating pastime), set ‘em up on the kitchen floor. They’ll love making noise, and they’re building those motor skills while simultaneously exploring cause and effect.

4. Get a little dirty and make some mud pies

Grab a mini poncho and head outside to play in the mud! Your baby will adore squelching mud between their fingers, and they’re building valuable skills at the same time.

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