Children's Museum of South Dakota

Beyond Splash


Wonder and Grow

Explore at home, ideas and activities, either before coming to the museum or after your visit.


Here are some ideas and activities to expand on prairie ideas at home, either before coming for a visit to the museum or after your visit.

On the prairie, wind is almost a constant characteristic of life. It is everywhere. Here are some ways to explore it with your family.Investigating water, how it moves and how it can be moved are the challenges in Splash.  


Splash Table

In this exhibit, children learn about water properties. They test the movement of water in many different ways, creating tools to move the water or move in water. Try these activities to inspire young civil engineers.

Experiment with the differences between salt water and fresh water.
Try floating objects in both fresh and salt water and note the differences. Talk about where to find fresh and salt water throughout the world.

Experiment with water’s surface tension & breaking the surface tension with liquid soap.
Try some of the simple water experiments in Water: Simple Experiments for Young Scientists by Larry White & Laurie Hamilton or Experimenting with Water by Bryan Murphy for younger children. They both can assist you in a series of water experiments.

Take your child swimming. 
Talk about the differences in water pressure that you feel when you swim underwater.

Experiment together with water pressure. 
Cut four small holes in a 2-quart plastic soda bottle. Then fill it with water covering the holes so the water doesn’t leak out. You’ll need to work together for this because you will need at least five hands! Then quickly uncover the holes! Out of which hole does the water spray the furthest? Talk about water pressure and how the weight of the water makes the spray go further.

Experiment with soda.
Another experiment with water pressure uses a 2-quart plastic soda bottle and a pen cap weighted with a little bit of clay on the long thin end of the cap. Fill the bottle with water and drop the pen cap inside.  Then predict what will happen when the bottle is squeezed. The pen cap should move up and down inside the bottle as outside pressure is applied and released.

Try moving things with water. 
Make a water wheel together out of found objects around the house. Experimenting with Water by Bryan Murphy can help you in creating water wheels.

Make boats out of wood, clay, sticks or paper.
Try them out on a nearby puddle, backyard pool, stream, or bath tub. The book, Projects with Water, In: Simple Science Projects, by John Williams, explores different types of boats using many materials found in a kitchen.

Experiment with solid, liquid, and gaseous states of water. 
Bring snow in from outside and watch how it melts. Explore when water boils with older children. The book, Water: Science Alive, by Darlene Lauw and Lim Cheng Puay, would be a great help when experimenting with early grade school children.

Experiment with water movement like ocean currents. 
Pour colored, cold water into a tub of clear warm water. Watch how the water moves. This simulates the colder and warmer currents of ocean bodies.

Experiment together with other ocean characteristics.
Check out the book, Oceans, the Hands-on Approach to Geography, In: Make it Work! Series, by Andrew Haslam & Barbara Taylor. This book would be especially helpful with 9-12 year olds.

Explore fog. 
Make a cloud or fog in a bottle by filling a glass jar with hot water. Once the water warms the glass, pour a couple inches of water out and place a plastic cover over the jar. Then add ice cubes on top of the plastic. Watch as the water condenses and the cold and warm airs meet. Fog or a cloud will form in the jar.

Tot Spot

Watching water movement, anticipating what it will do and exploring water in different forms are great water activities for the very young. Try these activities to extend water experiences with toddlers.

Blow bubbles together. 
Make bubble solution by gently mixing 1 cup of dishwashing soap with 5 cups of warm water. (Joy works really well). Then make bubble wands from wire or bubble pipes by making four ½ inch slits on one end of a straw and bending the straw flaps back to support the bubbles as they get bigger. Have fun!

Try blowing bubbles on a cold winter day. 
Do the bubbles go up or down? Talk about why that might be happening. (Warm air will make it rise more quickly in cold weather than on a summer day).

Toddlers love to play with water! 
Pour water back and forth between different shapes and sizes. Talk about how the water takes on the shape of the bucket or pitcher.

Color water together, using food coloring. 
Watch the food coloring move through the bowl and mix with the water. Then use the colored water you made to paint the snow in your back yard. Clear spray bottles (or recycled spray bottles rinsed out) work well as “brushes” for outside snow painting.

Make sprinklers with your toddler. 
Cut a few holes in a recycled plastic container and show him or her how to fill up the container with water and watch it sprinkle out of the holes.

Play with sponges and water.
Soaking up water and squirting it out between fingers is great fun.

Make simple boats out of plastic container lids or large sponges. 
Float in a tub of water or bath tub.

Play with funnels and buckets with water.
Dump and pour is a favorite activity.

Plink Plank Plop

Make a ball path across a kitchen table and then try it out! These activities will build on that planning process.  

Make a tennis ball path.
Use found objects around the house or garage to create a path.

Make a marble roll path.
Draw out a marble roll path and then make it together out of wrapping paper rolls, toilet paper rolls, and tape.

Play games. 
Check out games like, Chinese checkers, Mouse Trap, or Kerplunk to plan actions and then see the “change of events” happen.

Make a Plinko game.
Use a 2X2 board and rows of nails  – about 1 or 2 inches apart. Then use a marble or a ping pong-sized ball to travel around the nails and down the board. 

Continue to play, explore.
For additional activities to try at home or at school, check out the Teacher Resources.

Before & Beyond Splash Gallery - Activity Guide

Simple Experients with Light and Shadow

The bubbles in the Splash Gallery create lots of interesting combinations of light and shadow. Here is an idea to experiment with light and shadow in order to tell time.


What You’ll Need:

  • Stick
  • Rocks
  • 1 cup of playdough (optional)
  • Watch or clock

Set Up:
Collect supplies and select an area of sidewalk or concrete that is in the sun.

What to Do:

  1. Find a sunny spot in a lawn or even on a sidewalk.
  2. Put the stick in the ground. If it is a sidewalk, put the stick in the playdough and use that to hold the stick upright on cement.
  3. Throughout the day, place a rock, or mark with chalk for each hour indicating where the shadow falls at that time. Depending on your time, you may have to place rocks over a couple of days before your sundial is complete.

Ideas for More:

  • Use chalk and a ruler to draw in the shadow lines, instead of placing rocks on the hour.
  • Journal the length of the shadows at a certain hour each day. Check to see if the measurements are the same each day.
  • Use a piece of chalk to trace yourself and see how it changes with the sun.
  • Look to see what objects around you have shadows.

Length of Activity:
Set Up - 5 minutes if supplies and space are readily available
Building the Sundial - 10 minutes
Using the Sundial – For full experiment, one day or more or as long as you would like to use it


Additional Resources:
Burnie, David. Light. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1992. Print.
Murphy, Bryan. Experiment with Light. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1991. Print.
Orii, Eiji, Masako Orii, and Kimimaro Yoshida. Simple Science Experiments with Light. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens, 1989. Print.

Simple Experiments with Water

The Splash Gallery is all about moving water in different ways, using water pressure, creating water currents, and using directional flow. These simple experiments will provide opportunities to move water in different ways.

Heat-Underwater Eruption

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 soda pop bottles
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Paper

Set Up:
Collect supplies and clear a workspace.

What to Do:

  1. In a sink or outdoors, add food coloring to a bottle filled with very warm water. Shake.
  2. Hold a paper square over the mouth of a bottle filled with cold water. Turn the bottle upside down.
  3. Carefully rest the bottle’s neck on the neck of the warm bottle. Holding the necks tightly, pull the paper away.

Result The colored warm water rises into the cold water when the two meet. Molecules pull away from each other in warm water, making it lighter than cold water.

Length of Activity:
Set Up - 5 minutes if supplies are readily available
Executing the Experiment- 15 to 20 minutes

Fiarotta, Noel, and Phyllis Fiarotta. Water Science, Water Fun: Great Things to Do with H?O. New York: Sterling Pub., 1996. Print.

Additional Resources:
Potter, Jean. Science in Seconds for Kids: over 100 Experiments You Can Do in Ten Minutes or Less. New York: Wiley, 1995. Print.
Mayes, Susan. Starting Point Science. London: Usborne Pub., 2006. Print.