Instant Engagement Activities for Teaching Properties of Water

Properties of water activities are always a hit in the classroom!

Learning about water is ridiculously fascinating and SO MUCH FUN to teach!

I love when students ask what was “added to the water” to make it do these things! 🤣

What makes teaching properties of water so wonderful?

  • Properties of water lab activities are CHEAP!
  • Materials are easy to find (you probably have everything in your room).
  • There are SO many labs you can do either as stations, partners, or demos!

Let me share a few of my favorite activities to help your middle school students love learning about the properties of water!

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Get your students hooked right away with this mind blowing activity!

Challenge students to see how many pennies they can fit into a cup of water filled to the brim!

It’s quick and easy to set up!

Fill a cup of water to the brim so the cup can not hold any more water.

Ask students to predict how many pennies can fit in to the “full” glass without it overflowing.

Challenge students to gently place pennies into the cup of water. Drop them in by the thin side.

Students will be amazed to see that they can add an additional 20-30 pennies into a full cup of water!

Bonus: Observe and draw the “dome” at the top of the glass!


Every year during our water unit I get asked this question. I love to have this discussion and then play “Why water is not wet – with PROOF” video on YouTube.

This makes a great CER too!


  • Water Droplet Stretch
    • On a sheet of wax paper, use a pipette to place a drop of water about the size of a penny. Give students a toothpick and challenge them to stretch the drop as long as they can. Bonus tip: Incorporate measurement by adding a cm ruler!
  • Water Droplet Maze
    • Print a maze on paper and place it in a clear plastic sheet protector. Place a drop of water the size of a penny on the sheet protector and challenge students to move it through the maze as fast as they can. Add a stopwatch for extra fun!


  • The Floating Paperclip
    • Ask students what will happen when you drop a paper clip in water. Of course they will say sink.
    • Give them a fork, paper clip and water and challenge them to make it float.
    • Here’s the trick: Place the paperclip on the fork and gently set it on the surface. Then slip the fork under the paperclip and remove from the water.
  • Pepper
    • Sprinkle black pepper on the top of water. Surface tension will cause the pepper to lay on top. Bonus move: dip a toothpick in detergent and place it in the water. The detergent will cause the surface tension to break and the pepper will disperse and sink.
  • Penny Lab
    • This is one of my favorite properties of water activities! It’s a great way to easily investigate surface tension, cohesion, and adhesion at once
    • Plus, I love it when the kids ask what I did to the water to make it act like this!!!!
    • Check out this QUICK-PREP LESSON!


  • Rainbow Walking Water Demo My students love this every year!
    • Set up: Set up five clear glasses in a row (or circle). Fill glass 1, 3, and 5 halfway with water. Fill glass 1 with red food coloring and water. Fill glass 3 with blue food coloring and water, and fill glass 5 with yellow food coloring and water.
    • Place a 2 inch paper towel in an upside down “v” shape connecting each class to its neighboring glass. Have students predict what will happen. Compare predictions to the results the next day.
  • Drinking Straw Activity
    • Observe a clear drinking straw in water. The water level inside the straw will rise slightly compared to the water level of the straw. Experiment with different size straws to see how the water level is affected.
  • Celery Demo
    • Cut the end off of a celery stalk and place it in straight food dye.
    • Using concentrated food dye is a huge game changer – results happen quickly and are vibrant!
    • ** This is also great to do with white carnations or daisies!
  • Paper Towel Lab
    • The paper towel lab is a great way for students to explore capillary action in a meaningful way. In this activity students will explore several brands of paper towels and determine which has the most capillary action. I love to throw in our school paper towels for comparison – it really explains a lot!!!
    • Check out this easy prep lab below!


The balloon demo is always a hit!

Using two balloons, fill one balloon with air and one balloon with water. Hold both over a flame. Kids LOVE this part!

The balloon filled with air will pop quickly, while the balloon with water absorbs the heat energy keeping it from popping.


I love this four part lab shown below to help students observe properties of water and see how they work together!


Are you looking for super low-prep and engaging activities for your students?

Take a look at the Water Properties Bundle! It has 7 of my best-selling properties of water resources that are friendly for in-person or distance learning because we know how flexible teachers need to be!

All of the planning is done for you, so you can spend more time on nights and weekends doing the things you love!

Teachers like you said:

This resource was PERFECT! As a VA educator, finding a resource that fits the SOL’s exactly is nearly impossible, until now! My students loved the labs, they were super low prep, and engaging for the students. The language was simple enough for them to understand the content, but appropriately introduced the vocabulary. I will definitely be coming back to this shop!

I used this resource with my Science Bowl team. It did a great job introducing the concepts we needed in order to be successful in our competition. We did very well this year in our competition. Thank you for the resource!

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