Float and Sink Activity sorting picture cards, answer key, and information poster Printable

Introducing scientific concepts to young learners is an essential part of their cognitive and intellectual development. One such concept that fascinates young minds is the idea of objects either floating or sinking in water. To engage Montessori early childhood students in this scientific exploration, we have created an interactive activity set consisting of picture cards, labels, an answer key, an informative poster, and accompanying worksheets. Through these materials, children can actively observe, compare, and categorize objects based on their buoyancy.

Float and Sink Experiment

A Montessori lesson on floating and sinking focuses on teaching children about the properties of objects and how they interact with water. Here is an outline of how you can structure this lesson:

Begin by gathering the children in a circle and asking them if they have ever played with objects in water. Encourage them to share their experiences and observations about what happens when particular objects are placed in water.

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Show the children a variety of objects such as a rock, a feather, a plastic toy, and a metal spoon. Hold up each object one at a time and have the children predict whether they think the object will float or sink. Ask them to explain their reasoning behind their predictions.


Have a large container filled with water and invite the children to join you at a table with the objects you showed them earlier. Take turns dropping each object into the water, one at a time, while the children observe and record their observations on a chart. Prompt them to pay attention to whether each object floats or sinks.

After each object has been tested, bring the children back together as a group and review their observations. Discuss why some objects floated while others sank. Encourage the children to reflect on their predictions and whether they were accurate.

Provide the children with an opportunity to explore further by presenting them with additional objects or materials to test in the water. Out printable contains worksheets your students can use to make predictions, conduct experiments, and record their findings in small groups or individually.

Summarize the lesson by emphasizing the concept of density and how it affects whether an object floats or sinks. Encourage the children to continue exploring this concept in their everyday lives and look for more objects to experiment with at home or in nature.

Remember to provide a hands-on and open-ended approach during the lesson, allowing children to engage with the materials and explore their own ideas. Additionally, make it a point to use precise scientific vocabulary, such as “float” and “sink,” to help develop the children’s scientific language skills.

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Float and Sink Shelf Work

Setting up a float and sink Montessori shelf work involves gathering the necessary materials and creating a visually appealing and accessible arrangement. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Materials Needed:

  • A large tray or shallow basin
  • 2 clear containers (e.g., glass beakers or jars)
  • A variety of objects for testing, including small toys, rocks, rubber bands, wooden blocks, etc.
  • Laminated pictures or labels depicting “float” and “sink”
  • A cloth for drying objects
  • A small towel or absorbent mat

Arrange the Shelf:

  • Place the tray or basin on the center of the shelf.
  • Position the clear containers next to the tray, one labeled “float” and the other labeled “sink.”
  • Display the laminated pictures or labels above the containers, ensuring clear visibility.

Preparing for Presentation:

  • Gather a group of interested children and invite them to join you at the shelf.
  • Introduce the activity by emphasizing the scientific concept of buoyancy and explaining that objects can either sink or float in water.
  • Invite one child at a time to participate in the presentation.


  • Pick up an object from the tray and hold it up for observation. Ask the child if they think the object will float or sink.
  • Ask the child to place the chosen object in the water-filled containers, starting with the “float” container.
  • Observe the child’s reaction as the object either floats or sinks, and engage in a conversation about the result.
  • Encourage further exploration by inviting the child to test different objects from the tray, one at a time.
  • After each object is tested, guide the child in categorizing them into the appropriate container based on their floating or sinking behavior.
  • Show the child how to remove the object from the water and dry it with the sponge or cloth before placing it back on the tray.
  • Conclude the activity by summarizing the key observations and inviting the child to explore the activity independently.

Remember, during the presentation, it is crucial to allow the child to freely explore and draw their conclusions, fostering their critical thinking skills and innate curiosity.

Float and Sink printable

Picture Cards:
The picture cards serve as a visually appealing way to introduce the concept of float and sink to children. Each card features a high-resolution image of an object along with its name. This helps children to connect the concept to real-life objects they encounter daily. For example, cards may include images of a ball, a rubber duck, a rock, and a toy submarine.

To enhance vocabulary development, we have included labels for each object depicted on the picture cards. These labels enable children to associate the object’s name with its corresponding image. As children become familiar with the labels, their language skills improve, allowing them to communicate their observations and comparisons effectively.

Answer Key:
To aid educators in guiding their students through the activity, an answer key is provided. Educators can use this key to pre-select objects that will float and sink, highlighting the general principles behind each group. This will empower educators to lead discussions and encourage critical thinking among students.

Information Poster:
A colorful and informative poster is included, summarizing the concept of float and sink, and illustrating the key factors that influence whether an object floats or sinks. This poster can be displayed in the classroom, providing a visual reference and facilitating whole-class discussions.

The activity set includes worksheets to encourage student engagement and independent practice. Children can sort objects into ‘float’ and ‘sink’ categories or draw their own objects, predict whether they will float or sink, and test their hypotheses. The worksheets can be adapted to suit different learning levels and abilities by adding complexity or adjusting the criteria for categorization.

The Float and Sink sorting picture cards, labels, answer key, information poster, and worksheets provide a comprehensive and hands-on approach to exploring the concept of buoyancy for Montessori early childhood students. This activity set fosters cognitive development, language skills, critical thinking, and scientific reasoning in a fun and engaging manner. By actively participating in this interactive activity, students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for scientific concepts that will serve as a basis for further exploration in their academic journey.

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About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.