Properties of Water: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:01 Water
  • 0:59 Water Polarity
  • 1:51 Surface Tension
  • 2:19 Capillary Action
  • 2:41 Density
  • 3:14 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Anna Reinking

Anni taught elementary school for eight years and is currently teaching college. She received her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.

Expert Contributor
Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

Water is all around us, but what is it, exactly? Find out what water is made of, how it nourishes plants, why ice cubes float, and more. Then take a fun quiz.


Water is everywhere! It makes up our oceans, lakes, rivers, seas, and even over half of our bodies. Water is a colorless, clear, odorless, and tasteless liquid. It's something each one of us comes into contact with every day, from taking baths or showers to drinking water and going swimming on a hot day. But have you ever really thought about water? Water is pretty interesting if you start to ask yourself, 'What makes water, water?'

Water is created by bonding together very specific atoms. Atoms are very tiny things that, when joined together in certain ways, create everything we see around us. There are lots of different kinds of atoms. The atoms that are bonded to make water include two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. When they link together, you have a water molecule. These atoms are what gives water its special and unique characteristics, which we'll look at now.

Water Polarity

Water molecules are what is called polar. This means that one end of the water molecule is positively charged, and the other end is negatively charged. If you've ever looked at a battery, this is kind of what it's like: one end is positive and the other is negative. In a water molecule, the positive and negative charges are attracted to each other, which make the molecules stick together.

Water is also considered a universal solvent, or a substance that can dissolve other substances, which is affected by its polarity.

Have you ever put salt into water? Or watched food coloring get dropped into water? Both salt and food coloring dissolve in water, or become part of the water. However, that is not the case when you put oil in water. Water is a polar substance, and oil is a non-polar substance. So, instead of mixing, the oil floats on top of the water.

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Additional Activities

Water Experiments

This experiment will help students demonstrate each of the properties of water they learned about during the lesson. You'll need some empty cups, water and ice cubes to complete the activities. As students carry out the activities, guide them to reflect on how they demonstrate each property.


Reading about all the cool properties of water is one thing, but it's even better to see it for yourself! In this experiment, we're going to be carrying out four different activities, one for each property of water that you learned about. Complete each activity, then answer the questions.

Activity 1:

Pour one cup of water into two separate containers. In one cup, add a spoonful of sugar and stir. In the other cup, add one spoonful of oil.

  1. Which substance was able to dissolve and why?
  2. Which property of water does this demonstrate?
  3. For an additional challenge, try to find more substances that dissolve, or don't, in water. Create a table (like the one below) based on your results.

SubstanceDissolves or Not

  • Answers: Sugar would dissolve and not oil because of the polarity of water.

Activity 2:

Fill a cup to the very brim with water. Next, take a paper clip and gently place it on the surface of the water. If you're careful, it should actually float, even though metal is heavy and normally sinks.

  1. Why do you think the paperclip floats?
  2. What property of water does this demonstrate?
  • Answers: The paperclip floats because of the surface tension.

Activity 3:

Pour a small amount of water in a cup. Next, dip the tip of a paper towel in the water.

  1. What do you notice over time?
  2. Why does the water seem to "climb" up the paper towel?
  3. What property of water does this demonstrate?
  • Answers: The water climbs up the paper towel over time because of capillary action.

Activity 4:

Next, pour one cup of water in a glass and add two ice cubes.

  1. What happens to the ice cubes and why?
  2. What property of water does this demonstrate?
  • Answers: The ice cubes float because they are less dense than water.

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