The Wonders of Water Play

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The Wonders of Water Play
Pam Southwell


All preschoolers and young children love playing in water. Splashing in

water on a hot day is fun for obvious reasons. Water is a perennial

favorite with most children and we just have to see them around a mud

puddle to understand the attraction.


There are many daily experiences that involve water play and they are

simple and inexpensive to set up for your child. It is so easy to offer

your child a wide range of meaningful experiences if you are willing to let

them get a little wet.


Lets Do Dishes.

Doing the dishes by hand can be so much fun and can be a form of play if

you give your child some play dishes or plastic dishes to wash in warm,

bubbly water. Putting dishes into the dishwasher and turning it on offers

little or no tactile or sensory experiences to a child. Washing dishes by

hand, however, allows your child to experience so much; the sudsing bubbles

of the dish soap, the contrast of hot and cold water as well as the rhythmic

motion of washing and rising dishes. And it is lots of fun.


Tea Parties

Using real water is so much fun for outside play. Friends and toys can

participate in a pretend picnic.


Wash Day

Washing dolls clothes by hand is also a lot of fun. Many adults can still

remember doing this as a child. Put out a large washing-up bowl of bubbly

water and let your child wash her doll's and teddy's clothes and hang them

on a washing line. This activity lets your child experience the rhythmic

motion of rubbing clothes to get them clean. He/she can also experience the

soap bubbles and see how it cleans things.


This activity also lets your child feel and touch the different textures

and compare the various fabrics being washed, developing a new vocabulary

as you talk about how the clothes being washed feel. Your child will also

discover how much water can be soaked up by the different fabrics and toys,

the teddy will get heavy when it is wet and the water will run off the

plastic doll, etc. This is science!


Bath time

Here is a golden opportunity for wonderful water experiences for your

child. You will need a set of ducks? boats or buckets for playing in the

bath. Sponges are also a great bath time toy for filling with water and

squishing. Bath time play allows your child to have happy and meaningful

bathtimes with lots of opportunities for developing their imagination.


How does your garden grow

Watering the plants and planting a garden teaches children that plants need

water to grow just like we do. They love to have a watering can and water

plants both inside and out.


Water Play

Water play can happen in the sink or bath or a big tub set outside. If you

are brave spread a big sheet of plastic out in the kitchen or



The toys are simple. There is so much you can create from odds and ends

that will teach your child science. Your child has a natural desire to

explore through play.


Here are some great ideas for water play toys you can make or find easily in

your home.


Plastic containers of various sizes for pouring water, measuring and

experiencing and comparing capacity and volume through play.


Funnels. You can make your own simple funnel by cutting the top off a

plastic pop bottle and turning it upside down with the lid off.


Plastic tubes and hoses for creating siphons. Suck one end, and the water

can be poured up hill from one container to another.


Cylindrical containers such as shampoo bottles. Punch holes up the side of

these containers. The water spurts out further at the bottom when water is

added, due to water pressure.


Plastic tubs such as margarine tubs. Punch holes in the bottom of these

containers to observe water pouring through. Make some small nail holes,

and some larger. What do they notice or observe.


Containers with spouts for careful pouring.


Gradiated clear containers for measuring volume. Use a waterproof marker

on a clear plastic bottle.


You can also purchase commercial toys made especially for water play,

pumps, water wheels etc.


Other activities you might like to do with your children involving water



Freeze water and see how it expands. Fill a container and mark where the

water goes up to, freeze and see if the ice takes up more space.

Leave a dish of water out, mark where it goes up to, leave out and watch

the water disappear. Where does it go?


Oil floats on water, take a plastic pop bottle and half fill with water.

Add some food coloring and glitter if desired. Pour in some oil. Put on

the lid tightly, and shake it up. Watch what happens.


Pam Southwell is a parent, teacher and children's entertainer. Check out her

great music cds for children at

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