Water, Rocks and Mud

Get outside and discover cool things in nature.

  • Target Age:  3-5 
  • Subject: earth science, nature
  • Related Episode: For the Birds


  • None — use whatever you find outside.


Join your child and explore the world around you! While looking closely, touching, sniffing, and trying things out, your child will learn about the natural world and practice using important science and math skills. Talk together about what you notice. Don't worry if you don't have answers. Learning is all about being curious and searching for knowledge. It's fine to say, "I don't know. Let's see what happens if we try something."

Raindrops and Puddles
Water drops come in many different shapes and sizes. Try looking at raindrops with your child on a window. Ask your child to describe their shape. Choose two drops. Have a race. Which raindrop will run down the window first?

Go outside. Look for raindrops on flat and slanted surfaces. Notice the way the raindrops move on the surfaces. See if they form any small puddles.

If the day is dry, take a spray bottle outside so you can make your own "raindrops." What happens when your child sprays water on grass, on the sidewalk, on a bench, or on sand or dirt? Do the water drops break up, flatten, or do something else? Where do you see the "best" raindrops? Ask your kid why that might be?

Rocks, Pinecones, and Shells
Look for rocks when you go to the park or the beach. Ask your child how they are different. Have your child pick out the ones that are smooth, or that have sharp points or sparkles. Try using a rock to write on the cement. Dip your rocks in water. What happens to the color? Ask, Why does the color change?

Go for a walk and gather some nature souvenirs. Only collect things that are on the ground, like pinecones, shells, nuts, bits of bark, and twigs. At home, put one of the objects in a bag or sock and have your kids reach inside. Can they identify the object just by touch? Ask them how they knew what it was.

Mud Pies
Put on old clothes, grab a spray bottle, and head outside to make mud pies. How much water do you need to add to a little dirt to make the perfect mud pie? Let your child experiment to find the best "recipe." Ask, "What do you think will happen if you add more dirt, more water, or bits of dried grass and leaves?" Try it and find out. Ask, "What happens as the mud pies get drier and drier?"

More Ways to Discover and Learn

Look in a Book

  • Our Big Home: An Earth Poem by Linda Glaser
  • Whole World by Fred Penner


Find more activities featuring your child’s favorite PBS KIDS character!