Waterplay is the perfect summer activity – it helps cool the children down, they dry off quickly and there is so much learning in the process! Here are some ideas to consider when providing water play experiences:
Language learning and science
Use a variety of containers to make potions with water, found items, and dirt or sand. You can extend learnings by linking stories and cooking experiences to reinforce new language and encourage social interactions. Try books such as:
- Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski
- Room on a broom by Julia Donaldson
- Wombat Stew by Marcia Vaughen
Tipping and pouring water is fun but also provides lots of valuable foundational mathematical learning. The key is the interactions that support learning new concepts. Use language such as: empty, full, half-full, float, sink, splash, splatter, big, small, heavy, wet, saturated, absorb, squeeze, squirt, tip, pour, overflow, more, less. A great way to demonstrate all of this is through a scavenger hunt to find items to test out in the experiment. These can be items in nature or hidden by you.
Fine and gross motor skills
Play with ice by freezing toy dinosaurs or animals, then provide little hammers and tools to chip away and reveal the toys. Pipettes with cups of water provide tools for melting away specific parts more gradually – great for fine motor and problem solving too.
Use large sponges to set up a car wash and clean bikes, ride-on toys, cars, etc – the squeezing develops hand strength and children will learn about area and size.
It’s fun to wash dolls, and by reminding children that the baby’s face needs to be above the water, being careful with the babies when drying them gently, and even rocking and singing a lullaby we practice and model empathy simultaneously.
With all of the water play, it’s also important to discuss environmental sustainability and not wasting water. Leftover water from activities, drinking cups etc can also be used in the garden instead of being poured away. Using watering cans during activities also develops gross motor skills!
If you’re scheduling in waterplay be sure to warn or remind parents that children will need an extra change of clothes, a towel or to pack bathers etc. Always remember to be safe and supervise closely around any water experiences with young children.