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Capillary Action Experiment

Your kids are going to be blown away by this fun, colorful science experiment that helps kids understand capillary action. This easy science project is sometimes called walking water.

Capilalry Action Science Experiment for Kids - This is such a fun way for kids to explore and learn with a hands on science project for toddler, preschool, prek, kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade. EASY and QUICK to do (kids activities, summer activities for kids, homeschool, summer science)

Kids are naturally curious about the world around them. They ask lots of questions and perform their own experiments. Just look at a toddler who decides to blow into his milk to see what will happen. It sometimes takes them a lot of trial and error, but eventually they realize it will bubble up over the top of the glass and make a mess. Preschoolers stomp in water or mud puddles to see what will happen and then continue to jump more as they realize it makes things spray up and make a mess. Kindergartner find a worm, ladybug, spider, or other insect and follow it around the yard, pick it up and observe it.

Children are little scientists. It is us adults that teach them to stop exploring and trying new things when we harshly yell stop blowing bubbles in your milk instead of saying, it made a mess when you blew bubbles in your milk didn’t it. Let’s try a different activity. They need to know guidelines, methods to explore around them so they can investigate without causing mayhem or large messes.

This capillary action experiment will amaze kids from toddler, preschool, pre k, and kindergarten to first grade, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade kids. They will very quickly be able to watch as water moves or travels and by doing so it will create a beautiful rainbow, introduce color mixing, and delight young learners as they try to understand what just happened!

Capillary Action Experiment

This super easy science experiment for kids will become a favorite as it amazes kids and is so simple to perform all at the same time! Whether you are a parent, teacher, or homeschooler – you’ve got to try this kids activity!
fill glasses with water
Start out by putting 7 glasses on the counter. Fill glasses 1, 3, 5, and 7 most of the way up with water.
simple science project for kids
Next add food coloring to the glasses:
  • 5-10 drops of red food coloring to glass 1 and 7
  • 15 drops of  yellow food coloring to glass 3
  • 5-10 drops food coloring to glass 5
colorful science expeirment

Capillary Action Science Experiment

Now, your experiment set-up should look like this.
walking water science experiment

Walking Water

Finally, take a paper towel and fold it in half width wise, fold it again, and again, and again. Now put one side of the folded paper towel into one glass and the other side of the paper towel in the next glass. Repeat with the remaining cups.
walking water science project

Walking Water Experiment

Here comes the fun part! Watch capillary action in motion as the water climbs up the paper towel. This is how the science experiment got its nick name Walking Water Science Experiment.
capillary action science experiment for kids

Capillary Action for Kids

Capillary action is the process in which a liquid moves up something solid, like a tube or into a material with a lot of small holes. This happens when 3 forces called cohesion, adhesion, and surface tension work together. Water molecules are considered cohesive (sticky to each other) and they adhere (stick) to the paper towel. As one water molecule moves up the paper towel it pulls the other molecules with it. The molecules pull each other along like a drawstring.

watch the walking water science experiment mix blue and yellow to make green
Notice how the water has walked or moved along the paper towel.
Ask your kids to make a prediction on what is going to happen next! You can always direct their answer to help them to see the yellow water and the blue water are moving into the same cup. What do yellow and blue make?
color mixing science experiment for kids
How cool is that?! The cup that had nothing in it is now equally filled with the ones on either side. The water stops walking when the water is at the same level next to it.
preschool science experiments
Here is what you end up with – a beautiful rainbow of colors that walked and mixed by itself  while your kids observed capillary action first hand!
beautiful walking water science experiment where red will mix with blue to make purple, blue mixes with yellow to make green and yellow mixes with red to make orange
How beautiful is it when the water has finished walking, saturating the paper towels?! You have lots of vivid colors, color mixing to form 3 new colors, and have a better grasp on what capillary action is with your grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, grade 4, and grade 5 students.
oil and water science experiment

Science for Kids

Looking for lots more fun, science experiments for kids? You’ve GOT to try some of these outrageously fun science experiments for kids! We have so many fun, creative and easy science experiments for elementary age children:

Squishy Circuits Minion Project DIY Lava Lamp - super easy way to make your own lava lamp with simple things you have around your house. This homemade lava lamp is such a fun science project for kids of all ages to sneak in some summer learning. This science experiment is for toddlers, preschoolers, pre k, kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and kids of all ages at home, homeschool, summer camps, classroom, etc. air-presssure-science-projects-for-kids

Capillary Action Science Experiment

We have lots of other kids activities filled with ideas for every holiday and season of the year!

Did you know we have over 1 million pages of  free printable worksheets for kids – including pre k worksheets, free printable worksheets for kindergarten, grade 1 worksheets, 2nd grade worksheets and free alphabet printables to help make learning FUN. Plus find our history lessons and amazing easy science experiments for kids

Planning your summer vacation? Don’t miss our tried and true disney world tips!

About the author

Beth Gorden

Beth Gorden is the creative multi-tasking creator of 123 Homeschool 4 Me. As a busy homeschooling mother of six, she strives to create hands-on learning activities and worksheets that kids will love to make learning FUN! She has created over 1 million pages of printables to help teach kids ABCs, science, English grammar, history, math, and so much more! Beth is also the creator of 2 additional sites with even more educational activities and FREE printables - www.kindergartenworksheetsandgames.com and www.preschoolplayandlearn.com


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