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Uros Sink or Float Sensory Bin

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

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Have you ever heard of the Uros Islands? These man-made islands are built with reeds and float on Lake Titicaca in Peru! The Uro people use totora reeds not only to construct the islands, but their buildings and boats too! In this activity, we will create a sensory bin to explore what natural items sink or float!


  • A large bin (like this!)

  • Water

  • A bag for collecting straw or pine needles and any other natural objects you find!

  • String (find it on Amazon)

  • 2 or 3 small toys (action figures, cars, etc.)


Learn about the Uros Islands by looking at this photo, finding them on GoogleEarth, or watching a short video about them (scan the QR code!). Explain that the Uro people build the islands from reeds and that they live on the floating islands.

Fill a container (large and shallow, like a water table) with water for your sensory bin. Find an outdoor space where you and your Little Explorer(s) can take a nature walk and collect various items that you find. If available, grab a few handfuls of pine straw or hay, as well as twigs, leaves, pinecones, bark, etc.

Once you’ve got a good amount of objects collected, return to the water bin. One by one, have your Little Explorer guess whether each item will sink or float in the water. Once you discover what floats, play with tying those items together with string and floating the small toys on top of them. (For example, tying a clump of straw together and floating a toy car on top.)

Talk About It:

Let’s look at these amazing islands in Peru! Can you believe that people made these islands, and the buildings, and the boats - all out of reeds? How would you like to live on a floating island? What would you make it out of? Let’s go on a nature walk and collect some items to see if they sink or float! ... Okay, now that we have our items let’s go to the water bin! Do you think this stick will float or sink? Why do you think that? Well, let’s find out! … Wow, we tried every object now. Did any of them surprise you by floating or sinking? Now that we know which things float, let try to put them together to float a small toy on top of them!

Take It Further:

Invite your Little Explorer to draw a picture of the floating island that they would build. Where would it be? What would it look like? What would it smell like there? What would they eat?


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