H is for Hydrology — an exploration of water systems

Mommy Crusader Preschool Units, School, STEAM 2 Comments

Our final activity in our H unit of study is H is for hydrology.  Hydrology is the study of water – how it behaves and moves. For this activity, we focused on how water always travels with the pull of gravity (or downhill). I had to wait until the weather was warm enough for my kids to play in water for this activity. When the sun finally came out for a bit, we went outside to play with water.

Objective: to help children understand that water always flows with the force of gravity (or downhill) and how retention basins work.

A sandbox or someplace to dig and create in.
A hand shovel for each child.
Buckets, and other sand toys.
Water (we used the garden hose)

First begin by explaining that water flows downhill. Talking about the water cycle, and how the water usually falls in the mountains, then is distributed through rivers, etc., down to lakes and eventually to the ocean, helps to set the stage for the activity.

We live in the western US and most of our water comes from retention basins and dams. These are life giving technologies in the desert. Part of this activity is to show how these work.

Next, take the children to the sand and ask them to make a lake. Once they’ve dug around for a while, turn on the water and let them see if their lake works – meaning holds the water. My children were able to make a very nice lake. They even made a mountain to go with it.

After the lake, have the children try making a river. The river proved more challenging because of how bumpy the ground was after the construction of the lake. I found I had to explain that water only flows downhill several times while they were working on the river. After leveling out the sand a bit, and digging the river channel deeper, they said they were ready for the water.

Finally, I asked my children to make a river flowing into a lake.  Again, orienting the river so that the water ran how the children expected it to run was a bit challenging and required several different attempts. Eventually, the children got the lay of the land worked out so that the river ran into the lake.

I was done with our hydrology study, but my children had one more challenge in mind. They decided to add a mountain and a smaller river leaving the lake. They had so much fun working out how to lay out this water system. And, for them to create their own challenge was really fun to see.

This was a fabulous activity that all the children enjoyed working on together. I had children from 18 months to 6 years old working on this activity at the same time. Everyone worked really well together and enjoyed digging and playing in the water.

I would probably wait to do this activity again later in the year when the weather was warmer. My Kindergartner didn’t agree with me that it was warm enough outside and went to get his winter coat. Other than that it was a fun and entertaining exploration of how water works.

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