What to read to a preschool class exploring things that float or sink? Here's what I did for storytime when they came last week.
Do Like a Duck Does by Judy Hindley - Large, colorful illustrations make this fun for sharing with a group, but be sure to read it a couple times first because the rhymes don't always rhyme exactly and the rhythm gets wonky in some spots. Still, there's a perfect spread for Float or Sink - when the ducks plunge into the water and the faux duck (read: fox) sinks like a stone!
Five Little Ducks Went Out One Day - Song with duck stick puppets that we fashioned from construction paper and craft sticks. As you sing each verse, move your hands (holding the ducks) behind your back and leave one on the chair behind you. I always finish by having the kids quack louder and louder and then finally bringing back all five ducks.
Ten Little Fish by Audrey Wood - Okay, fish don't really sink or float, I guess, but I love this one and it was perfect for the three-year-olds I was reading to. The bright, computer-generated illustrations really capture their attention. This one has great rhymes and I love that the last little fish doesn't end up all alone - soon another comes along and they start a fishy family.
Sailboats in the Water - This is an activity we made up! My lovely colleague T created 25 small felt sailboats in different colors. I gave one boat to each child and then sung this song (to the tune of "Do You Know the Muffin Man?"):
If you have a red sailboat, a red sailboat, a red sailboat
If you have a red sailboat, put it in the water!
After each color, we counted how many of that color we had. After every child had put their boat in the water, we counted them all together (another librarian secret - this is an easy way to keep track of how many kids are in your storytime!).
10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle - This is a great book for floating. Based on a true story, ten rubber ducks are tossed out of a boat during a storm and as they float on and on each one meets a different creature. The text is a little wordy for sharing with young preschoolers, so I paraphrased and that worked quite well.This is a great book for vocabulary - the ducks meet a dolphin, flamingo, seagull, and many other marine animals.
Mr. Gumpy's Outing by John Burningham - When Mr. Gumpy takes his boat out, everyone seems to want a ride! But when they misbehave, the boat tips over, spilling everyone overboard. I like to tell this one with puppets, using a basket for the boat and then dumping out puppets all over the floor when the boat tips.
I admit that this storytime is heavy on the "float" and light on the "sink". Combine some of these books with a sink or float demonstration if you're not afraid to get a little wet.