Learn About Webbed Feet

duck chicks

Use a plastic bag and water to demonstrate how webbed feet work.

What You Need

  • Picture of a duck’s webbed foot
  • Plastic sandwich bag
  • Rubber band
  • Toys that float
  • Small portable tub
  • Water

What You Do

  1. Look at a Webbed Foot
    Show your child a picture of a duck’s webbed foot. Explain that the flaps of skin between the duck’s toes form what we call a webbed foot.
  2. Experiment with the Plastic Bag
    • Place a plastic bag over one of your child’s hands. Secure the bag in place with a loosely fitting rubber band.
    • Ask your child: How is the hand that is covered with a plastic bag like a webbed foot? (Water cannot pass between the fingers of this hand, just as water cannot pass between the toes of a webbed foot.)

    duck chicks

  3. Experiment with the Toys
    Put two toys in the water. Then ask your child to do the following:

    • Put both hands in the water behind the toys. Spread your fingers apart on both hands and move them slowly back and forth.
    • Now try to move the toys by pushing the water with your hands.
  4. Talk About What You Learned
    Ask your child:

    • Which hand pushed the toys farther—the “webbed” hand or the “non-webbed” hand? (Webbed hand)
    • What type of foot do you think would push a duck better through water—a webbed foot or a non-webbed foot? (Webbed foot)
    • For an older child: How do webbed feet help ducks swim better? (No water can pass through gaps between the toes. This gives the feet more force per stroke against the water.)