Colour, brilliant colour! Absorption and Patterns

Apr 17, 2012

Nappies hold a lot of wee, yet without any intentional questioning from you, it is doubtful your child will ever ask why that is. Never once did my daughter question why nappies could hold a lot of liquid whereas undies certainly didn't! :)

Nappies (or Diapers), are probably the first experience your child will have with absorption and it won't be the last. Cleaning up those puddles of spilt milk etc are just part of everyday life. Here we took a deliberate look at absorption with a simple little activity

Using absorbent materials can be fascinating for children. Just introducing the wonder of a simple sponge and a pool of water can be all the entertainment they need for a time.
So, while we set about testing the absorbency of a couple of different materials, we thought we might as well use coloured water and create some art as well.

absorption activity, science activity, colour activity
 Materials: various shades of coloured water, eyedropper, cotton pads (medical or cosmetic work well...check your first aid kid or make up removal) and towelling paper

 Using fine motor skills, focus and concentration to transfer water from the container to the cotton pad

 She just kept adding more and more water until the cotton pad couldn't handle any more. Look how it bubbled

 It was her decision to make each pad a different colour

But look what happened to the cotton pads that were touching! Watching the coloured water travel from one cotton pad to the other was exciting.

 Once we'd used all the cotton pads, we tested the absorbency of the paper towelling

We discovered that it wasn't as absorbent which we decided was due to the thickness

It was so much fun watching the colours separate out on the towelling paper and the end result looked fabulous. Many more sheets of towelling paper were used to create lots of different patterns :)

Handy tips:

- To extend this activity try lining the cotton pads up and seeing how far you can get the water to travel along them. Try creating new colours by having 2 primary coloured cotton pads side by side. (eg, a yellow and a blue cotton pad)

- For younger kids, start this activity by making the coloured water and learning how to transfer water with an eyedropper using this fun activity

- Let the cotton pads and towelling paper dry out when finished and then reuse them for crafts etc. We used a piece of the patterned towelling paper to help decorate a homemade birthday card. It looked great!

- Talk with your child about what they are doing. This will help them understand the physical and mental processes they are going through as well as giving them the vocabulary to describe it.

- Use new language and descriptive words like, "absorption" and "transfer." This will help with their language development.

-Ask questions to help connect their understanding and use vocabulary to give them words to describe what they're experiencing, eg. "Why do you think this cotton pad is going blue when you haven't put any blue water on it?" etc.

- If you have coloured water left, why not try making Cloud Jars?

- For more fun, have a look here and here to see what others have done using similar materials

Debs :)
Look where else we are. Are you following along? :)
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  1. We haven't had the eye droppers out in a while and my kids love them. Thanks for the idea.

    1. You're welcome Marci. I can see us using the droppers for many, many more activities. So much fun!

  2. Fun! We tried this with pipets (droppers) on paper towels a while back, but now that my daughter is older, it would be nice to have a conversation like this with her, not just the materials experience.

    1. Thanks Chrissy. My 3 year old was very interested so I think we'll have to carry on the experiments and take it further. Make do and Friend had a good activity that they just guest posted on Rainy Day Mum. Thinking we might try that next :)

  3. What a great activity - I love it more for the fine motor development than learning about absorpancy especially with toddlers. This is a great one that I could do with J getting him to develop those fine muscle controls in his fingers to release small amounts of water at a time. Of course as he gets older we can look at absorpancy as well.

  4. Thank you Cerys. Absolutely! We've done it since just to practice the fine motor skills (and for fun of course!) :)

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