Absorb & Repel

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In this activity, learners investigate how different materials repel or absorb water. Learners use spray bottles to explore how everyday items like sponges, cardboard, feathers, etc. respond to water differently. This activity also introduces learners to the scientific method as learners make predictions about which materials will absorb or repel water.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 8

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Umbrella
  • Raincoat
  • Cotton shirt
  • Sponge
  • Piece of light-weight cardboard
  • Small stone
  • 1 c. soil
  • 1 c. sand
  • 1 c. flour
  • Bird’s feather (purchased from a craft store)
  • Spray bottle with water
  • 2 cloth dish towels or hand towels
  • Vegetable shortening


  • Physical Sciences
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Kohl Children's Museum of Greater Chicago, Inc., 2012