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Squid Locomotion Activity

This fun science experiment uses a balloon, water, and the top of a dish soap container to teach children about propulsion and squids!

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Do you know how a squid swims?

You can do this activity in an outdoor pool, large bin, or even in the bathtub. Fill a bin of your choice with water and grab a balloon. Fill the balloon halfway with water and add a little air. Hold tight and add a closed dish soap lid. Drop the balloon into the bin of water and open the lid. Then stand back as the “squid” moves around!

📚 Books to explore:  Giant Squid by Candace Fleming; I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean! By Kevin Sherry; and President Squid by Aaron Reynolds.

🦑 Did you know? Squids use jet propulsion to move. They funnel water to move using a siphon, which also helps them breathe.


For this activity you will need:


Dish soap top 


Food coloring

Large container

Sharpie (optional)

Learning Outcomes






Brainstorming solutions and outcomes


Step 1:

Very carefully place the balloon over the end of a faucet and fill it halfway. 

Step 2:

Remove from the faucet and add a couple drops of food coloring.

Step 3:

Place the dish soap top inside the end of the balloon. The balloon should fit snug around the dish soap top. Blow some air into the balloon and then close the lid.

Step 4:

Fill a bathtub, sink or large container with a couple of inches of water.

Step 5:

Place the balloon in the water and open the soap top.

⬆️ For older preschoolers: Let them try themselves to add the soap top, and take it outside if the weather is nice as it could turn into a water balloon fight.

⬇️ For younger toddlers: Let them draw on the balloon before adding the water.

Playful Questions

How do squids swim? 

What color are squids?

Where do they live?

What does a squid eat?

Do squids have bones?

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