This science center display explores water and sound. To make this display, I used glass vases from a craft store ($0.99 each). I added liquid watercolor paint to a pitcher of water (you could also use food color), and poured the water into the vases. The little wooden mallet is a guiro mallet from our collection of classroom instruments. Children use the mallet to gently tap the vases as they listen to the musical notes made.
The reason I used the same color of water in each vase is so young children understand it is the amount of water in the vases that makes the sound different, not the color of the water. If you use a different color of water in each vase, young children could get confused and think the color of the water has something to do with the difference in sound.
Extend the Activity
To show children that sound is made by a vibration (in this case, a vibration of the water), try this additional sound vibration activity. Tie a piece of string to a metal spoon. Wrap the string around a child’s finger and have the child place their finger in their ear. Tap the spoon with another spoon as it is hanging (not touching anything else). The child may have to tilt their head a bit, so the string and spoon are not touching their body. Talk about how the vibration from your spoon tap traveled up the string to their ear.
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Liquid watercolor paint can be purchased online at Discount School Supply, Dick Blick, or Amazon. I have used and can recommend Colorations and Sax brands. Liquid watercolor is an essential in my Pre-K classroom — it can be used for so many things!