painting · STEM

“Hey Water!” by Antoinette Portis

In this fun nonfiction picture book, “Hey Water!” by Antoinette Portis, a young girl explores the many ways that water appears to her in a playful game of hide-and-seek. “In the morning, you wink at me from blades of grass; dewdrop.” It is a lovely and simple picture book for early readers that includes information about the different forms of water at the back of the book, teaching kids the science behind the many forms of water.

Published by Neal Porter Books.

Inspired Activity: S.T.E.M. play in 3 Ways

There are so many different ways that water appears to us that we could not do just one form of play to demonstrate it, so, we did three activities.

Water as a Gas

For this activity we focused on the lesson about how water evaporates into a gas, which is part of the overall water cycle. This clever idea is easily demonstrated using a large ziplock bag, water, and a drawing of the water cycle. I saw this similar experiment on purely primary‘s page. It is a time-consuming experiment, in that, it takes some time to wait for the water droplets to appear. The trick is finding a bright, sunny window to speed up the process. Our window did not get a lot of sun, but the hot and humid past few days did help speed things up.

Water as a Liquid

For our ‘water as liquid’ activity, I found this fun experiment on The Science Kiddo‘s web page that measures water density. To do this we filled four glasses with water, left one as our control variable, keeping the water plain. I labelled the glasses and then had the girls add several tablespoons each of salt, baking soda, and sugar to each of the remaining glasses. Once our liquids were ready to go, it was time for the fun part – adding the gemstones to each glass to see if they would sink or float.

As expected, the saltwater gems floated right away and the more salt we added the better they floated. Surprisingly, so did the baking soda gems. The sugar water and plain water gems did not float at all. The girls had such a blast mixing up the water and substances and then seeing if the different gems floated. They kept taking them out and switching them from glass to glass to see what would happen. Needless to say, much of the water did not remain their glasses.

Water as a Solid

By far, the most fun project (and our favourite), was our ‘water as a solid’ ice painting activity. We took this one outdoors on a nice sunny day. The girls played with the rainbow ice cubes of paint, swishing them around or simply waited for them to melt in the sun. Either way, the results were a messy, beautiful rainbow painting.

Making these ice paints was super simple and required very little materials. We used: an ice tray, various tempera paint colours, and popsicle sticks. Simply fill each cube with paint, leave the tray in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Add the popsicle sticks – ideally so they stand up. Our sticks did sag a little, but it still worked out fine. Once the cubes are fully frozen, they are ready to use and can be painted on any material surface, but we used white craft poster paper.

In a public library setting

S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning has become an important part of the school curriculum over the last 15+ years and continues to be a vital part of youth education today. So, it is no wonder that so many public libraries have taken upon themselves to promote this brand of education through the library setting. The most common changes we have seen is the addition of Makerspaces and S.T.E.M. or S.T.E.A.M. programs.

Offering S.T.E.M.-related materials and programs at the library “can fill a gap left by school-based S.T.E.M. learning and change student attitudes towards” these subjects (Baek, 2013). Providing S.T.E.M. programming at the public library offers equal opportunity to children, because the library is a free resource, so it ensures equal education opportunities for all students.


Baek, J.Y. (2013).  Public libraries as places for STEM learning: An exploratory interview study with eight librarians.

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