With the rainy spring we had and summer being in full swing, water is on all of our minds! And it is a fact - most kids love to play in the water! Given the benefits of water play, it is a win-win for all to let them enjoy some cool refreshing time with H2O!
One of the best and easiest ways to enjoy water play is to embrace the rain! When safe, go out, play in the rain, splash in those puddles and have fun making a mud pie or two!
Water play provides children countless opportunities to develop fine and gross motor skills across age ranges. It helps hand-eye coordination through actions like pouring, squirting, washing, splashing and scooping. We have also all seen how this type of play can develop creativity and imagination - who knew so many things required baths and could swim.
Water play also provides an introduction and starts a framework for understanding several scientific concepts. Playing with water can introduce children to words and concepts such as full, empty, sink, float and more! Adding things like food coloring or ice cubes to water play can begin discussions on color mixing and melting. When outdoors things like evaporation can happen depending on the amount of water present, this can lend itself to many scientific experiments!
For infants and toddlers simple water play is best! Add a few basic accessories such as a few small containers that are easy to hold, a spoon or small ladle and maybe a few plastic animals. Make sure anything you choose does not constitute a choking hazard.
For preschoolers, head outside and water paint! Grab paintbrushes and rollers, a bucket of plain water and go to town! Also on a warm summer day, grab some buckets, cups, empty plastic bottles and a sprinkler can provide hours of fun! You can also grab outdoor toys, bikes, etc. and have a washing station. When outdoors,especially during water play, make sure all children have sunscreen on and never leave children unattended.
Many child care programs have a sensory table they use all year for water play and it can be a great addition to a backyard play space at home on the weekends as well! Simple things like washing plastic dishes and cars, plastic ocean animals and water with blue food coloring are inexpensive ways to have a morning of fun! For ideas on a ton of different activities a sensory table can be used for check out this article from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls. Note items that may be considered choking hazards and plan supervision accordingly.
Another fun idea for outdoor water play is to build a water wall! See this link from Happy Hooligans for ideas.