Water Transfer Colour Guess Game. Fine motor skills activity for kids.

Mar 28, 2015

Back when Maddie (aged 6) was just 3 years old, she was a great fan of transferring water from one vessel to another. Now that Noah is 3, I've been going back through my own blog to see some of the activities she was getting up to at that age. I found our Colour Discovery Water Transfer activity and knew that it'd be right up his alley.

This time, to mix it up a little bit, we had a go of this in 3 different ways. From the basic skill of moving water from one container to another, to a couple of different versions of guessing colours and making them appear.

Ages: 2+
(See Handy Tips at the bottom for ideas to simplify or extend to suit your child's needs)

As an introduction to water transfer we started with just two containers (one with liquid and one without) and a pipette (these are lab tools often used in science, medicine etc. Pipettes or little plastic syringes often come as a dispenser for medicines, or you can buy some cheaply from a discount chemist.)
The challenge was to learn how to use the pipette (squeeze in the bulb at the top to push the air out. Put the pipette tip in liquid and release the bulb to pull the water up into the pipe. Move to where you want to relocate the liquid and then squeeze the bulb to release the water again.) and try and move the water from one container to the other without tipping it in.

Following the steps in order to correctly transfer the water can be challenging for younger children. It requires fine motor skills, concentration and thought. Like any skill, it takes practice.

Once he had the hang of how to use a pipette, we moved on to using the newly acquired skill for a guessing game and way to talk about colours. I set up the same activity in 2 different ways. One with the dots of food colouring visible and one with them hidden under a cotton ball.

  • Divided plastic container (recycled items are great)
  • Container of water
  • Pipette or plastic syringe
  • Food colourings (or watercolour paint)
  • Cotton balls (optional)

I quickly put a tiny dot of different coloured food dyes (I used some liquid and some gel) into each section of a recycled plastic container. For some different colours you can put two different drops into the one section. Some of the colours seemed obvious as to what they would be and others were very hard to tell. For a complete guess without any sort of visual clues, cover the dots of colour with a cotton ball.

Ask your child which section they are going to squeeze water into first. What colour do they think the water is going to turn? Can they see any other section that they think may be the same colour? Let's find out! (You could ask older children to write down their predictions and record the results)

As well as discussing the varying colours, we talked about how the strength of the colour also changed depending on how much water we added. This is great for their developing vocabulary and language skills.

He was keen to have a go of the covered colours as well. Can they tell which colours these ones will be?

It will take more water (and possibly some poking) to get the colours to appear from beneath the cotton balls. Why might that be? (Use this to talk about absorption)

Look at the pretty colours!

Rather than just tipping your coloured water down the sink, use it for further play and experimentation. (See ideas in the Handy Tips below).

We decided to do a bit of printing onto towelling paper with our left over colours. I added some pegs to the coloured cotton balls for some further fine-motor skill and hand muscle strengthening. They make a good handle for painting and splodging with. (There are further ideas for using pegs with paint here.)

Splodging with the coloured cotton balls and pegs was thoroughly enjoyed, and many new pieces of towelling paper and regular paper were requested.

Handy Tips:

Simplify this activity for younger children by focusing on the water transfer. Can they move the water from one vessel to another without tipping it? If pipettes or syringes are too tricky for little fingers you can provide a variety of different sized spoons for them to transfer the water. Find out: Which is the most efficient way of transferring the water? 

Extend this activity by using your coloured water to experiment with. You could try: 

- Use this time to demonstrate particular skills to them that they might be attempting unsuccessfully. Learning the process of squeeze in, release and squeeze again to transfer water with a pipette can be a little difficult for little kids. Let them practice and experiment until they get the hang of it.

Observe what happens to the colours when you add more or less water. Talk about the strength of colour. Dark or light? etc.

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. eg. "You are doing a great job transferring water from one vessel to the other" etc 

- Use a tray to sit your containers of water on to minimise mess and to make clean up easier.

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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