The Best Water Play Ideas
WHY WATER PLAY?
Water play seems to be everywhere. You could easily fill an entire Pinterest board with water play ideas and we easily fill our summers with water play every year. Why?
The most obvious reason is because kids love water. This isn't true of every kid everywhere, but most kids love water. They are fascinated by it. The way it moves. The way it splashes. The way it pours. It is a fascinating substance. This leads me to my second reason.
Why? Exploration. With the current hype about all things STEM, water is usually one of the first scientific explorations a child encounters. Water is in their bathtub, their sippy cup, the sink, the toilet. It is fascinating and so they explore. Exploration is good. It teaches us to ask questions. It teaches us to hypothesize and investigate. It teaches us the value of curiosity. If exploration is intrinsically motivated it is that much more valuable.
Through this exploration they are building skills and knowledge. They are learning to pour, to problem solve, to understand quantity, and concepts like full/empty and more/less. They are developing language and social skills. They are developing hand/eye coordination, gross motor, and fine motor skills while they pour, squeeze, run, and squirt water.
Lastly, it is open ended, limitless, and fun! The very best things for children are simple. They are full of limitless possibilities for extension, they are open ended encouraging creativity and problem solving, and they are enjoyable. Water play is the perfect example of an activity that has boundless opportunities for learning while you bask in the laughter and joy that almost certainly results. That is why.
GENERAL WATER PLAY
Simple Water Play
Fill up the sensory table or a large bucket with water and play. Sometimes simple is best.
Infants and up will enjoy this simple water science activity.
Chalk and Water
One of our favorite sidewalk art activities.
This can be easily changed to washing toy animals, baby dolls, or dishes.
Bubbles and Sensory Table
It's like a bathtub in your sensory table. Perfect for a rainy day.
A simple how to on teaching toddlers and preschoolers to water paint.
5 Things to Bring to a Splash Pad
Items beyond the basics for playing at any splash pad.
How to Introduce Infants to Water
Simple tips for introducing small babies to water.
THE PROPERTIES OF WATER
Sink or Float Rings
Early experiment for infants and toddlers
Ice Cubes and Water
Fun sensory and fine motor activity for little hands.
Colorful Melting Ice
Colorful messy science for little hands.
WATER + SAND
Couldn't make a water trips list without my favorite - the beach. Here are some beaches we have loved:
Beach Mystery Bag
Fun Montessori inspired way to explore the different textures found at the beach.
WATER + FISH
Big Al : Book Review and Extension Ideas
10 Books about Aquariums
Our favorite books about aquariums and aquatic animals.
WATER + OTHER ANIMALS
Sea Turtle Unit
Or learn about a different under the sea animals that strikes your child's fancy at the aquarium.
Observe water birds or animals at a nearby pond, lake, or river.
Rainy Day Walk
Perfect for a warm rainy summer day.
10 Books about Weather
There are many, but these are our favorite books about rain and all things weather.
Simple Post-Rain Activity
Fun, messy, splashy post-rain activity.
WATER + BOATS
Water Table or Tub
Access to Water
Other various materials. See post.
The above are the favorite of the ways we have explored water in the first 4 years of our twins' lives. It is their absolute favorite form of play and our experiences have been varied. That being said, our list is not exhaustive. I would love to hear about your water explorations in the comments.
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