Supporting Play/Learning at Home: Water Play

To help parents of young children who are stuck at home due to COVID-19, I am beginning a series of posts with ideas to support your children as they learn through play.

Water play is an activity that can keep children occupied for long periods of time. It can be calming for children who are working through powerful emotions and is appropriate for a wide age range.

Do you have a small baby bath tub or a similar sized plastic container? Fill it with one-two inches of water; it doesn’t seem like much but it is all you need! Lukewarm water is probably best.

Glitter bottles
Use sequins, oil, water and food coloring to make these. Glue the lids tightly.

Each time you put the water tub out, you can try something new to use with the water. Observe your children to see what they enjoy the most. Repeat the favourite items. If your child put things into his/her mouth, avoid smaller items. Consider asking your children for ideas.

Here are some of my favourites for water play:

  • -a drop of food colouring, sequins, and strainers
  • -a few drops of dishwashing liquid and whisks
  • -plastic sea creatures or animals
  • -rocks or pebbles and bowls
  • -measuring cups and spoons
  • -plastic containers of various sizes
  • -bath toys
  • -ice cubes or freeze coloured water in yogurt containers with plastic animals inside
  • -flexible tubing to pour water through with turkey basters and spoons or scoops
  • -plastic greenery or flowers
  • -plastic babies and wash cloths to give baths
  • -any plastic toys or dishes that need washing plus small tooth brushes for scrubbing
  • -for children who love to paint place the tub of water outdoors along with paintbrushes. Paint the shed/house/sidewalk/driveway. Bonus: easy clean up AND learn about evaporation.
Kitchen items are great for water play
A drop of dish washing liquid and a whisk provides tons of fun.

If you are feeling concerned or frustrated with water spilling, here’s a tip. Give your children sponges, show them how to soak up the water and wring it out to refill the tub/bin. If they are working on a clean surface, they can replace the water themselves as it spills with repeated wiping up and wringing out. They will learn not to waste the precious water you give them if you refuse to refill and put the responsibility on them to savour the water they’ve got. It also helps our planet to use moderation with all things and this is a good opportunity to talk about water conservation.

If you want to take this further, have a look at Tom’s Sand and Water Play website for ways to really kick it up a notch. Keep it simple or go all out but water play is wonderful for young children in so many ways.

Want to make more connections to learning? Ask some questions. If your child is age 4+ these would be appropriate. Give your children a chance to experiment and find their own answers. Help your child record their discoveries:

  • What do you already know about water?
  • What do you want to learn about water?
  • What have you learned about water so far?
  • What do you need to help you explore further?

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