Amphibian Absorbency: Discovery at Home


  • Plate.
  • Cup of water.
  • Paper towel.
  • Permanent markers.


  1. Draw the outline of an amphibian on ½ of the paper towel.
  2. Fold the paper towel in half like a book or greeting card so that the drawing is on the front. Let’s call the front page 1.
  3. On the first inside page (page 2), draw the same outline of the amphibian, but add colors to the picture. Your two drawings should line up with each other.
  4. Make sure the towel is still folded so that the outline with no color is on the front (page 1) and the outline with color is on the inside page (page 2).
  5. Pour water onto the plate so it covers enough of the plate that the towel will be completely soaked through.
  6. Set the paper towel onto the plate of water.
  7. Watch how the paper towel absorbs the water and your picture shows more color! Your colorful drawing should show up on every page!

Ways to expand it:

  • Create other amphibians and redo the experiment!
  • Which markers create more vibrant pictures after the experiment? Use different types of markers to experiment with absorption. 

What kids learn:

  • Cause and effect. See what happens when the paper towel absorbs the water.
  • Fine motor skills. Kids practice using the small muscles in their hands later used for writing.
  • Symbolic thinking, or the ability to think about one thing representing something else. When small children begin to connect an experiment with living organisms and their characteristics, they start building the connections in the brain that allow for reading and learning later.
  • Experimentation! When kids experiment, they're learning how to learn. Failure is an important part of experimenting, so let kids try things that won’t work. It’s how they figure things out!
  • Interactions between materials. Discover what happens when the paper towel and the marker mix with water.
  • Opposite words, like gooey and solid, warm and cold, big and small, empty and full, wet and dry. Learning to compare things is an important part of learning language.


  • Absorption. Absorption occurs when one material takes in or soaks up energy, liquid or another substance.
  • Permeable skin. Special skin layer that allows absorption. Amphibians absorb oxygen (and potentially other things) through their skin.
  • Amphibian. Cold-blooded animals that have a backbone/spinal column like frogs and salamanders.