If there is one activity that appeals to children of all ages, it’s water play! This is an activity that provides us with literally hours of entertainment around here, and there are so many ways to have fun with water.
A friend of mine recently mentioned that her daughter was spending a long time in public bathrooms wanting to wash her hands, and it was starting to cause an issue when visiting groups and friends, as they were spending the whole time in the bathroom.
My advice to her, was that in providing lots of opportunities for water exploration at home, it would not only help to meet her daughters strong need to explore water, but would also make setting boundaries about when and where water play is appropriate a lot easier – “It’s a no now, but we will play with water once we get home.”
Water play is wonderful for your child’s development. It provides opportunities for measuring, imagining, role play, and sensory experiences to name just a few!
So how do I provide my toddler with water play opportunities?
- Push a chair up to the kitchen sink and leave various utensils within his reach for him to play with. He is allowed to turn the tap a few times but then I tell him “Last time” and he has to stop. He has several funnels which he likes to use to create a “tap” and we are teaching him that we don’t waste water. He sometimes tips the whole bowl out and asks for more, but we do “Last time” with that too, and he has picked up on the boundaries quickly. He does this any time I am working in the kitchen and as soon as he sees me starting to cook he rushes off to get the chair. If I am washing up he enjoys standing next to me and cleaning the side or the door with a cloth.
TIP – To make clearing up easier and protect the floor from becoming dangerously slippery I tend to put a few old towels down to soak up spills. I never bother clearing up until the end as it only gets wet again, but it doesn’t get too messy, and gives the floor a good clean which is always a welcome bonus!
- Washing up bowl on the kitchen floor (again on towels) with various containers and tools to pour, shake and stir. My little boy has sensitive skin so we don’t use soap but if your little ones use soap, bubbles can be a fun addition to this activity.
- We have an activity table which we use for water play in the garden on a daily basis, and this also becomes messy play with mud, and other treasures found in the garden being added in to the mix!
- One which we have recently discovered is that I go for a bath and he comes up and stands next to the tub, pouring and washing Mama! He enjoys leaning over the side tipping water from a cup in to a jug, and chatting away to me as he plays. It is really relaxing and stress free. As I love my bath steaming hot he often plays alongside until it is cool enough for him to jump in too!
- Water play in nature – Paddling, filling and emptying buckets and creating a moat at the beach; Splashing in puddles on a walk; Visiting the park on a rainy day (this is the best time in my mind as it is empty and peaceful and who cares if everything is wet!). I try to always dress him appropriately for the wet weather so that he can splash, explore and discover without restriction or my worrying about him getting cold and soaked.
- And lastly, gardening! We regularly go to an allotment group where the children are free to plant, dig and of course water the plants! My son rushes right up to the watering cans to choose a few interesting looking ones while I fill a big bucket full of water. He cant get enough of dipping his can in to the water, filling it up and taking it off to water some plants. This activity which on the surface seems so simple, is actually so complex in its affect on his development. He is learning about quantities, weight, the way the ground absorbs the water, how to hold the can just right and balance so he doesn’t spill the contents. The concentration he exerts during his play is fascinating to watch, he truly becomes completely absorbed in the task at hand!
So why not go and get wet and get creative enabling your little ones to explore the wonders of water!
What are your favourite ways to play with water?
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