Sink or Float Sensory Sink with Natural and Found Objects

Looking for a simple science activity for your toddler or preschooler? Sink or float experiments are always a hit with the little ones. This one is quick and easy to set up and uses natural materials that you can find outside or in your own house.
water activity for kids with objects from nature

Welcome to another Sensory Sink Sunday! If you’re visiting us for the first time you might like to take a look at our introductory post, which explains what sensory sinks are all about and how we’re doing this series.

All our sensory sink activities in this series can be found by clicking the following links:

  1. Introducing Sensory Sink Sundays!
  2. Inspired by Baking Sensory Sink
  3. Messy Mud and Worms Sensory Sink
  4. Sunken Treasure Sensory Sink
  5. Sink or Float Sensory Sink
  6. Pond Themed Sensory Sink

This week’s theme is sink or float. Peanut (34 months) and I have been playing with objects from nature recently and so I decided to use natural and/or found items for our sensory sink.

What We Used:

  • pinecones (2 types)
  • pine needles
  • rocks (different sizes)
  • a small piece of wood
  • acorns
  • a shell
  • a periwinkle
  • sea glass
  • a piece of pottery found on the beach
  • a walnut in its shell
  • dry lentils
  • a raisin
  • a cashew
  • a wooden bead

Peanut watched me collect these items from around the house and excitedly said, “I’m ready to do the sensory bin!”. Never mind that it was a sink rather than bin based activity; I was just pleased to have such an enthusiastic boy!

We began by putting a piece of felt on the bottom of the sink since we’d be dropping heavy objects into it.

Putting felt in sink











I put a washcloth on each side of the sink. I put a card with the word “sink” on one and a card with the word “float” on the other. Peanut is obviously too young to read however he does understand that words in our environment give us information. I chose different colored cloths to help him remember which one was for the items that sunk and which was for the items that floated.

I then gave him the container with all the objects I’d collected and he began dropping them one-by-one into the sink.

sink or float experiment for preschoolers

For the most part Peanut did very well assigning each item to the correct washcloth. I believe in the philosophy of learning through play however, so when he grew tired of classifying each object I simply let him enjoy playing at the sink.

sink or float experiment

To see what Frogs & Snails & Puppy Dog Tails did with this week’s theme, please click here:Sink or Float Sensory Sink.

For more sensory play indoors and at the sink, please see our Sensory Sinks and Indoor Water Play page.

Sensory Sink Sundays Series 2



Thanks for reading!


23 thoughts on “Sink or Float Sensory Sink with Natural and Found Objects

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  7. What a neat idea Ann! Drew is only 2 but it’s definitely something we could try and tackle this summer. Your granola bars you posted the other day are what I’m dying to try! :) I did want to also invite you to join our Easter Basket Showcase link party on Thursday the 28th. I’d love to see what’s in Peanut’s basket…. and if you don’t have it ready by then, just feel free to put anything Easter related in the link up!

    • Sarah, I’d give this a try even with a younger two-year old. Just omit the part about classifying the objects and let him have fun playing with different things that float and sink.
      Thanks for the invite to your Easter Basket Showcase. I actually don’t have anything specifically planned for Peanut’s basket…I have a feeling I’ll be doing it last minute so I look forward to finding some inspiration from your link up!

  8. love the items you used! Great idea to let the boys try this with some of the things we pick up in the yard on our nature hunts.

  9. I think this is the best sink yet! I love the idea of natural objects and of classifying them as float or sink. What a great introduction to some basic science!

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