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
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.
Using real water is so much
fun for outside play. Friends and toys can
participate in a pretend
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
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
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 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
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
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
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