No lab required: Using simple science to produce language opportunities

Sometimes you spend lots of time planning and gathering materials for a lesson only to find it just doesn’t work out.  The students may not understand the concepts or your lesson goes too quickly and you’re left thinking, “Now what?”  For this science experiment, you will likely always have the materials on hand and it promises lots of language, concepts and vocabulary.  The best part is it can be done at any time.

To get started, you’ll need water and two or more containers of different sizes and shapes that can hold water.  That’s it!  The question you and your students will ask is: Which containers hold more water?  The students should make their hypothesis and record guesses with a drawing.  The language you will want to hear is “I think…” or “My hypothesis is….”  You may want to take or draw pictures throughout the experiment to use for later lessons, to make a book, or to display.

Now comes the fun part! Fill up the smallest container and pour it into the biggest.  The students can practice telling you to pour the water in the container.  Then see what happens. Use prompting and imitation to have the students say, “It’s not full.”   Now fill up the big one and pour it into the little one.  What happens?  Of course the water will overflow!  Discuss which container holds more water.

If you’re using more than two containers, continue pouring water into each of them in the same way.  Each time, the students should explain what is happening.  When the experiment is complete and the results are in, compare the results with the students’ guesses.  Were they correct?  The students can say, “I know….” or “I learned…”

Don’t forget to share the pictures with the students for additional opportunities to talk about this fun experiment, especially at home!

Jennifer Manley served as a classroom teacher for students ages 3 to 12 at CID – Central Institute for the Deaf. She currently works in professional development giving presentations on auditory development and is co-author of CID SPICE for Life, an auditory learning curriculum and author of the 2nd edition of CID SPICE.

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