- Grades 6-12
- School Leaders
Check out today's amazing teacher giveaway! 🎁.
33 Splash-tastic Water Activities for Summertime Fun and Learning
It’s time to get a little wet and wild!
There’s no better way to battle the heat of a summer day than a little water play! So grab the beach towels, slather on the sunscreen, and get ready for some epic fun with these incredibly refreshing water activities and games.
1. Turn a plastic bottle into a sprinkler
No sprinkler? No problem! Upcycle a plastic water bottle and use your DIY sprinkler for all kinds of water activities.
Learn more: Housing a Forest
2. Toss water balloons using towels
Water balloon tosses are always fun, but this one ups the ante by requiring teamwork. Two teams snap the balloon back and forth until one team misses … and most likely gets wet!
Learn more: Love Play Learn
3. Water the alphabet flowers
Grab the sidewalk chalk and plant a garden of colorful alphabet flowers. Then fill a watering can and “water” the flowers, calling out the letters along the way.
Learn more: Fun Learning for Kids
4. Use a plastic bag to explore the water cycle
A sealed plastic bag is the perfect environment for recreating the water cycle. Hang it in a sunny window and watch evaporation, condensation, and precipitation in action.
Learn more: Teaching Ideas
5. Lob some sponge bombs
Water balloons are fun, but they’re wasteful and messy too. These reusable “water bombs” are cheap, easy to make, and can be used for water activities over and over again.
Learn more: A Pumpkin and a Princess
6. Construct a water wheel
Brush up your engineering skills and assemble a water wheel with paper plates and cups. Try it out in the sink, or take it outside and use a hose instead.
Learn more: There’s Just One Mommy
7. Craft a giant water blob
This trendy toy is all over the web, but there’s no need to spend big bucks to buy one. Learn how to make your own giant “water blob” at the link.
Learn more: Clumsy Crafter
8. Go fishing for numbers
Go fish! Float foam fish in a water table or kiddie pool. Add a paper clip to each one, and fish for them with a magnet on a string.
Learn more: Buggy and Buddy
9. Experiment with water filtration
STEM water activities are fun, educational, and perfect for summertime exploration! Scoop up water from a creek or lake, then see how different types of filtration work.
Learn more: Teach Beside Me
10. Play tag with spray bottles
Add a new twist to the classic game of tag! The one who’s “It” gets the water bottle, chasing the others down. If you’re hit by the spray, it’s your turn to be “It”!
Learn more: Kids Activities Blog
11. Make it rain
A little shaving cream and food coloring are all you need to perform this popular water science experiment about clouds and rain. Simple and fun!
Learn more: The Happy Housewife
12. Mix up bottle cap soup
Save those bottle caps and paint letters on them. Then mix them all up in a big bowl of “soup” and let kids have fun scooping them out with spoons, ladles, or other tools.
Learn more: School Time Snippets
13. Joust with water balloons
With a pool noodle (and a fork) for a sword, you can joust for water balloons! It’s lots of fun and good for hand-eye coordination too.
Learn more: Ziggity Zoom
14. Pierce a water-filled bag
This is one of those STEM water activities that you simply have to see to believe. Pierce a water-filled bag again and again, without spilling a drop of water!
Learn more: Fun With Mama
15. Tap on a rainbow water xylophone
This colorful, tuneful activity is sure to be a hit with kids of all ages. Experiment with different water depths and mallet styles to make all kinds of beautiful music!
Learn more: Mama Papa Bubba
16. Play a game of Duck Duck Splash
It’s so much fun to turn classic games into water activities! In this take on Duck Duck Goose, the tagged person gets a good splash of water before they run!
Learn more: Inspiration Made Simple
17. Learn with water balloon phonics
Set up letter targets, then toss water balloons marked with letter combinations to make words. What a fun way to learn sight words!
Learn more: Mess for Less
18. Make a mini water cycle terrarium
This mini terrarium is a cinch to put together, but kids will be amazed to see how well it replicates the water cycle!
Learn more: Laura Candler’s Teaching Resources
19. Swing at water balloon piñatas
Dangle water balloons from a clothesline, then swing at them with a bag or stick. Instead of candy, you’re rewarded with a cool splash!
Learn more: Hello Wonderful
20. Build a LEGO water dam
LEGO bricks are great on their own, but add water and watch the fun multiply! Use colorful bricks to build a dam, pool, or water course.
Learn more: Little Bins for Little Hands
21. Discover buoyancy and density
Take a nature stroll on a sunny day and pick up a variety of objects. Then bring them home and find out which ones float and which sink. Some of the results may surprise you!
Learn more: My Bored Toddler
22. Engineer a PVC pipe water shooter
These water shooters are simple to put together, and kids will be amazed by how far they shoot. Set up targets and test your accuracy!
Learn more: Frugal Fun 4 Boys and Girls
23. Target numbers with water balloons
Draw a giant target marked with numbers, then stand back and aim with water balloons. Add up the numbers you manage to hit to see who can accumulate the highest score!
Learn more: Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas
24. Jump through an amazing pool noodle sprinkler
You don’t need a pool to get wet with these noodles! Tape them together and poke some holes, then connect it to a hose for the coolest sprinkler around.
25. Race to fill the bucket
Teams race to transfer water from one bucket to another, using a sponge. Everyone is sure to get wet, but they’ll also have a blast!
Learn more: The Resourceful Mama
26. Splash around in rainbow bubbles
What kid doesn’t love to play with bubbles? Fill a kiddie pool with them, and create a rainbow using liquid watercolor paints.
Learn more: Gift of Curiosity
27. Spell words with swimming pool Scrabble
How clever is this? Write letters on sponges and float them in the pool. Kids swim out and grab a number of letters, then bring them back to spell the best word they can.
Learn more: Toddler Approved
28. Jump rope with a cup of water
Two kids turn the rope, while a third jumps. But here’s the twist: the jumper carries a cup full of water. After 10 jumps, see how much water is still in the cup. Then switch roles and see if the next person can beat the record!
Learn more: Parents.com
29. Make a water balloon yo-yo
Under-fill a water balloon and turn it into a yo-yo! Of course, it won’t last forever, so be prepared to get a little wet.
Learn more: Inner Child Fun
30. Put together a pool noodle water wall
Attach pool noodles to a pegboard using zip ties, then pour water to see where it lands. Simple water activities like this one can keep kids busy for hours!
Learn more: Teaching Mama
31. Hold a spoon and water balloon race
This take on the egg and spoon race is less wasteful, but just as much fun. If the balloon drops, you can pick it up and keep going … as long as it doesn’t break.
Learn more: Kara’s Party Ideas
32. Put together a PVC pipe course
A collection of PVC pipes and connectors make totally fun real-life building toys. Add water for an even bigger impact!
Learn more: Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes
33. Light up the night with glow-in-the-dark water balloons
Join the fireflies with a nighttime water balloon fight! Simply add a glow stick to each balloon before you tie it off.
Learn more: The Scrap Shoppe Blog
Looking for more ways to have fun outside? Check out these 40 Wet and Wild Outdoor Science Projects and Activities.
Plus, 17 Picture Books to Celebrate Summer .
You Might Also Like
3 Things I Do Every April That Make Back-to-School WAY Easier
It's like finding a hundred bucks in your coat pocket. Continue Reading
Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. 5335 Gate Parkway, Jacksonville, FL 32256
45 Awesome Water Activities for Kids
Categories Activities , Summer
Water play ideas are a must for the summer. Water is incredibly versatile, fun, and it doesn’t need any time to prepare. Here are 45 of my favorite Water Activities for Kids .
Make this Summer easy with the Summer Activity Pack . For only $10 you’ll get over 80+ pages of hands-on activities and craft templates. They’re perfect for teaching math, literacy, fine motor skills and more to preschool and kindergarten aged kids. You can take a closer look at the activities inside , or buy it here .
Disclosure: Some of the links provided in this blog are affiliate links. I will be paid a commission if you use this link to make a purchase.
Water Activities for Kids
1. DIY Splash Pad
I’m going to start off this list with what I believe to be the best activities related to water. Learn how to make a splash pad in 30 minutes . This DIY project is a great way to cool off on hot summer days. Best of all, once it’s made it only takes 5 minutes to set up and pack away.
2. How to Make A Water Wall
Learn how to make a DIY water wall for your kids to play with. This is an easy DIY project that kids can play with in summer or winter.
Photo: Learn with Play at Home
3. Walking Water Experiment
This is one of my favorite water STEM activities for kids, because it’s a great way to see capillary action in motion. Believe it or not, you can watch water mix colors all by itself. With this walking water science activity you start off with the primary colors, and using a bit of science, you end up with a whole rainbow. It’s so easy and fascinating to watch.
4. Water Balloons
Water balloons are a must on any hot summer day. I love these easy to fill water balloons , because they make playtime so much smoother. But remember to pick up all the bits of plastic when you’re finished.
5. Ocean Pollution Small World and Sensory Bin
This polluted ocean small world idea really struck a chord with me since I love the Coles Mini Shop Collectibles. This water activity for kids is a fantastic way to teach children about the effects pollution has on the environment and why we should be recycling.
Photo: Finding Myself Young
6. Water Cycle STEM for Kids
This activity is a small version of the water cycle that your kids will be able to see.
However, what I love the most about this demonstration is that it makes saltwater drinkable. Add some salt to the cup of water and see what it tastes like before and after the experiment is done. Your kids will be able to taste the difference.
7. Life Skills
Just because an activity is a chore for us, doesn’t mean that it’s not a play opportunity for your kids. Learning to wash the dishes , plastic dishes for kids , not glass, is an important skill that helps teach our kids to be independent in a fun way.
Photo: The Preschool Toolbox Blog
8. Ice Transfer: Fine Motor Activity
This is a great way to cool down in summer, and it’s so easy to just grab some ice cubes out of the freezer. Tongs, spoons, hands. Use whatever you like to take the ice from one bowl and into another . It sounds so simple, but my kids played with it for a ridiculously long time.
9. Water Table
A water table is one of the best toys you can invest in. My kids spend so much time playing with all the fun water activities you can do with one, that it almost makes other toys obsolete.
10. Sight Word Splash
Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean the learning has to end. Using water activities for kids, like this sight word splash game is a fantastic way to keep your kids learning while they’re still having fun outside.
Photo: Homeschool Preschool
11. Rain In A Jar Science Activity
My son and I have made rain in a jar several times and he loves it. We use only blue because then it looks like rain falling down from the clouds and I get to talk to him about the weather. However, I’ve also seen others who have had great ideas, like using several colors and trying to create a rainbow instead.
12. Water Balloon Pinata
I can’t think of a more perfect activity for my son than a water balloon pinata . Water balloons and hitting something. Fun ideas like this are right up his alley. I can already imagine the squeals of delight when I bring this activity out this summer.
Photo: Red Ted Art
13. 10 Rain Painting Art Activities for Kids
Here are 10 different ways you can create art using rain . However, if it’s a hot sunny day you can always use spray bottles instead.
14. Water Guns
Squirt guns are bound to be a hit if you’re doing water day activities for kindergarten. These are a staple for any types of water play ideas you’re planning for this summer.
15. Catch the Ice Cube
This activity is a fun fine motor activity for all the adorable babies out there. Watching my kids try to pick up a slippery ice cube was so much fun.
To extend the activity I put food coloring in the ice cubes so that my kids could mix the colors once it melted. But that wasn’t nearly as much fun for them as catching and tasting the cubes.
16. Fishing for Hearts
Place some foam hearts, squares and other shapes in a large tub or a kiddie pool, then see how many your kids can fish out of the water. Fishing shapes out of the water is a great way to learn a bit of math this summer.
17. Water Fine Motor Activity
I love fun water activities, and this one is so wonderfully simple that you almost can’t believe how much it helps your kids learn while they play. Squeezing water from one container to the other is all you need to do. You can use pipettes, sponges or anything else you have in your kitchen drawer.
Photo: Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds
18. Color Changing Flower Experiment
With a few household items you can create a blue rose. Or turn a flower any color you like . This experiment explores how flowers use capillary action to get water. Since the color-changing doesn’t happen straight away, it’s also the perfect way to teach your kids about patience.
19. Water Slide
A water slide is one of the best toys for kids, because it provides hours of fun. This set even comes with two inflatable rafts for the kids to ride on.
20.Outdoor Water Games
Here is a whole list of outdoor water activities for kids that you can play with the whole family. Using just a few simple items you can create hours of fun with these ideas.
Photo: Play Party Plan
21. Flower Soup Sensory Bin
Flower soup is one of the easiest water activities for children. Pick some flowers and add them to water. It’s hard to believe that something so simple will be so engaging, but it’s true. The kids love this sensory bin whenever I bring it out, they just can’t get enough of this nature play idea.
22. Surface Tension Science Activity
This simple science experiment explores the wonders of surface tension . This is a fantastic water activity for kids.
Photo: What Do We Do All Day
23. Bear Soup
This super simple bear soup sensory bin comes with a lot of opportunities for younger kids to engage in extended play. Color matching, counting, patterning. It all depends on what your kids feel like doing that day.
Photo: Days With Grey
24. Frozen Paint
The Frozen Paint has been a huge hit with both the kids and myself. They love the sensory side of this process art activity. I, on the other hand, love how I can make a whole batch of it and keep it in the freezer. It’s great being able to pull a few out whenever I need quick fun activities.
25. 25 Games to Play with Sponge Bombs
Did you know that there are 25 different kindergarten water activities you can do with sponge bombs ? These are great if you want to cool down and have fun, or do some hands-on learning.
Photo: Big Family Blessings
26. Animal Washing Station
Washing toy animals is such a fun pretend play activity but it’s also a great way to promote independent life skills. Washing the dishes, or themselves, can all start with these fun water activities for kids.
Photo: Bilingual Beginnings
27.Frozen Sand Sensory Bin
I came across this sensory bin by accident. But I’m so glad that I did because it’s now one of my favorite water play ideas. If you’ve got any extra space in your freezer, then you have to try frozen sand the next time there’s a hot day.
28. Make Way for Ducklings: ABC Activity
This fun activity is an accompaniment to the book Make Way for Ducklings . I can’t think of a better way to get your kids excited about learning to read than by a fun letter recognition activity based on a classic.
Photo: Growing Book by Book
29. Water Obstacle Course
Make a water obstacle course in your backyard and let the kids run wild. From pool noodle sprinklers, jumping through hula hoops to a water bucket race. You can make any number of water based challenges for your kids.
Photo: Hands On As We Grow
30. Summer Lemon Sensory Bin
When it comes to water activities for kids, it doesn’t get much simpler than this. This sensory bin consists of sliced lemon, water, and blue food coloring . The kids played with it for 45 minutes straight. Scooping the lemons, splashing and having a blast.
31. Gross Motor Water Transfer
With a couple of tubs of water and a cup, you can get your kids to play this energy-burning water transfer game . There’s a lot of splashing and a lot of fun to be had with simple water day activities.
Photo: Simple Fun for Kids
32. Giant Bubbles
I have no doubt that when you try this activity, the kids are going to fight over who will be the first person to make giant bubbles . If you don’t have the energy to referee yet another fight, make sure you have enough supplies for each child. Then let them play while you get to sit back and relax.
33. Tropical Island Small World
What is one of your favorite summer activities for kids? I love going to the beach, for me there’s no better way to cool down. However, it’s not always possible to head to the ocean. With a bit of sand and water, you can pretend to have a tropical getaway in your own backyard.
34. DIY Kiddie Car Wash
DIY water activities for toddlers can be so much fun to make if you’re happy to use a few simple tools. This kiddie car wash is simple, and is bound to be the next summer favorite of your family.
Photo: Mom Endeavors
35. Invitation to play with colored water and recycling
I love how just changing the color of the water can take an activity from fun to epic. Not only is this a great way to develop fine motor skills, but your kids will also learn a bit of color mixing too.
36. Iceberg Sensory Bin
This is one of my favorite water play ideas that you can do during the colder winter months. The icebergs in this sensory bin are completely taste safe, making it suitable for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.
37. Washing Dishes Sensory Bin
Here’s another opportunity to teach your child some valuable life skills. All while they play too. This washing dishes sensory activity is a great alternative for parents who don’t want to spend the money required for a kitchen learning tower.
Photo: Toots Mom Is Tired
38. Pool Scrabble
If you are fortunate enough to have a swimming pool in your backyard, then try making a set of pool scrabble . This is a great way for kids to practice their ABC’s while they burn off some energy.
Photo: Toddler Approved
39. Water transfer with Pipettes
Using these disposable pipettes for transferring water is a great option for the classroom. Can your kids fill up the entire container? Or count each squeeze as they go? There are a surprising number of fun things you can do with pipettes.
40. Water Color Guess Game
I love how Learn with Play at Home found a way to make water activities for kids into a guessing game . It’s a lot more fun when you don’t know what color you’re going to get.
41. Sink or Float
This is such a simple experiment that you can do it with very little prep at all. You just need to grab anything you want around the house and see what floats and what sinks .
This experiment is a fantastic example of water activities for elementary students.
Photo: Edventures with Kids
42. Disney Ice Escape
I love the Disney twist on this classic Ice activity . It’s a great way to play if your kids have a favorite movie at the moment.
43. Painting with Water
Grab a bucket of water and some paint brushes, because you are going to love painting with water . This is a great way to spend time outside and let the kids play.
Photo: Happy Hooligans
44. Water Balloon Spoon Race
The egg and spoon race is a classic kids game. Have you heard of a water balloon and spoon race ? This is just as fun and perfect for those hot summer days.
45. Mini Water Blobs
Mini water blobs are great water toys that all kids of all ages will love. You can jump, roll and sit on them. All without worrying that the water pressure will be too much and they’ll break.
Summer Activity Pack
Get over 80+ pages of Summer themed play based learning activities and craft templates. Perfect for preschool and kindergarten.
Are you going to try any of these Water activities for kids? Don’t forget to pin the idea for later.
More Summer Activities for Kids
60 Summer Activities for Kids
30 Water Sensory Bins for Summer
25 Water STEM Activities for Kids
- Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Skip to primary navigation
- Skip to main content
- Skip to primary sidebar
- Classroom Ideas
- Teacher’s Life
- Deals & Shopping
23 Exciting Water Activities for Preschoolers
March 14, 2022 // by Brittney Hallmark
Water play is a great pastime for preschoolers to explore, create, and enjoy! Water play can happen year-round, with a variety of preschool water activities to use to keep your little ones busy!
These are 23 of our favorite water activities for you to try with your preschooler! Whether learning, practicing motor skills, or just having fun, these will quickly become some of your favorite preschool water activities!
1. Pouring Station
Simple and easy, this homemade pouring station is a fun way to get hands-on with water play indoors or outdoors. This is a great way for preschoolers to experiment with water and work on hand-eye coordination through pouring from one container to another. Just a tub of water and some random containers can pair together to provide tons of fun!
Learn more: Busy Toddler
2. Water Wall
Another fun water activity for a steamy summer day is the water wall! This activity would be ideal for a bored toddler or preschooler. Making a homemade water wall is quick and easy and only requires household items and water. Preschoolers will enjoy watching the paths the water makes down the water wall.
Learn more: Happy Hooligans
3. Floating Boats
Floating boats are fun ideas for indoor play! This science activity is a fun way to let preschoolers build their own boat out of marshmallow peeps or sponges and toothpicks and paper. You could bring out other items to try to determine if the boats sink or float in containers of water.
Learn more: Make and Takes
4. Fishing in a Pool
Hot summer days are great for outdoor water play! Add cold water to a kiddie pool and let your little one practice catching floating foam fish with a small net. This is definitely preschooler and toddler approved and can provide lots of fun for them as they splash and play. But beware, they may have a water fit and not want to get out!
Learn more: I Can Teach My Child
5. Water Bead Sensory Bins
Water beads are all the rage right now! Little ones love touching these little gel beads and feeling them move in their hands. Fill a tub with these water beads and add objects that will help with fine motor practice, like spoons or strainers. Children will enjoy moving these water beads around and feeling them squish against their skin. This is a fun and simple water activity for preschoolers!
Learn more: One Lovely Life
6. Pom Pom Scoop
Little ones will enjoy this activity and will be provided with several learning skills. They can practice color recognition skills, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination. Super simple to set up for parents and teachers is a big bonus too! Just get a bin and fill it with water, dump in some colorful pom-poms and hand them a spoon to scoop up pom-poms. Add the element of counting in by having them use the number on paper cups to add that same number of pom poms that they scoop up.
Learn more: Happy Toddler Playtime
7. Muddy Car Wash
Let little ones engage in realistic play by setting up a muddy car wash. Let them muddy the cars and play in the dirt and then take the cars for a spin through the car wash. Kids will enjoy using soapy water to clean the cars.
8. Colored Water Experiments
Adding food coloring to containers of water gives the containers of water a new color and allows for lots of fun when mixed or observed by children. They can use the colors to mix them to create new colors.
9. Water Balloon Math
Water balloon math can be great for kids of all ages. You can use different operations to create math facts and let students practice. They could write the facts after they solve!
Learn more: Virtual Book Clubs for Kids
10. Water Gun Painting
This water activity is fun for kids of all ages! Fill the water guns with water and squirt watercolor paintings or fill the water guns with paint. Either way, you'll end up with colorful artwork and tons of fun!
11. Ice Boats
Ice boats are fun and easy to make! Some ice cubes, straws, and paper are all you need to build your boats. Children could track how long they float and see how fast they can melt them!
12. Rainbow Water Xylophone
This STEM activity is always a big hit! Students will enjoy watching the colors and playing sounds on the glass jars. They can even make their own songs. Students could even add the food coloring to the water to tint the shades.
Learn more: Mama, Papa, Bubba
13. Pool Noodle Water Wall
Pool noodles are great for the pool, but they are great for a water wall too! You could cut the noodles or leave them their original length and have them twist and turn down the wall. Kids will have fun using funnels to pour water down the water wall and catch it in a container.
Learn more: Teaching Mama
14. Rainbow Bubbles
Soapy water plus a little food coloring make for some magical rainbow colors! Students can play in the suds and blow the colorful bubbles! Different sizes and shapes of bubble wands will add to the excitement of rainbow bubbles!
Learn more: Gift of Curiosity
15. Phonics Water Balloons
Water balloons can make all studying and learning a little more fun! Use them to build CVC words and have students practice blending. You could also do water balloon tosses to see if they can read and hit the words.
Learn more: Mess for Less
16. Pumpkin Washing Station
The pumpkin washing station is fun and practical. Letting students practice using brushes and watering cans to clean objects like pumpkins. You could substitute other items for the pumpkins. This could be done indoors or outdoors in a sink or a container.
17. Sponge Water Bombs
Water sponge bombs are fun alone or for a group of little ones! They can squeeze the water bombs and transfer water or have a water sponge bomb playtime. Preschoolers could even help make these little water sponge bombs.
Learn more: Messy Little Monster
18. Water Balloons
Water balloons are fun for learning but fun for playing too. Water balloon fights are fun, safe, cheap, and easy. Let little ones help make the water balloons and get a little extra fine motor practice as well.
Learn more: Artsy Momma
19. Feed the Ducks Sensory Bin
Rubber ducks are always a hit when there is water. Add them to the bath or add them to this sensory bin ! Practice catching items to transfer or pretending to feed the ducks are good fine motor skills for practice. Students can also count the ducks.
Learn more: Toot's Mom is Tired
20. Water Transfer Pipettes
Water transfer is a fun and easy activity but try this twist: do it with different tools! Try using a pipette or a turkey baster. Fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination will get good practice as well. Students can also count the drops!
Learn more: Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds
21. Pencil Water Bag Experiment
Fill a gallon size bag with water and do this pencil experiment. Push pencils through and let students see that the bag won't leak. This is a fun experiment that will get students thinking, wondering, and asking more questions as their curiosity sparks.
Learn more: Paging Fun Mums
22. The Shapes of Water
Water transfer is fun but using different shaped containers will add a different dimension to their thinking. You could add food coloring to the water to help them distinguish the visuals better!
Learn more: Stir the Wonder
23. Sink or Float
Making a sink or float bin will help students learn to make predictions test out their hypothesis, and they could even document it through an observation journal. Let students pick which items they want to test or have them collect items from nature.
Learn more: Laughing Kids Learn
- Search Please fill out this field.
- Raising Kids
- Toddlers & Preschoolers
What Kids Learn From Playing in the Water
Playing in the water is not only fun, but it can improve a child's physical and cognitive development. Here's why you should spend time splashing around this summer, plus easy activities for every day of the week.
Tenley Clark / Stocksy
You already know little kids love running through the sprinkler, splashing in the tub, and testing out the inflatable swimming pool. But as it turns out, playing in the water is also beneficial to their cognitive and physical development.
"It's amazing to think about the ways in which a simple bath or time spent in a kiddie pool can inspire learning," says Allison Wilson, Senior Director of Curriculum & Innovation at the Stratford School . "Children often gravitate to water, so it's easy to turn this leisure time into an abundance of fun and discovery time."
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits, with seven expert-recommended water play activities that toddlers and preschoolers can do at home.
It's important to remember that whenever children are playing in a pool or other body of water to be sure that there is close adult supervision nearby.
The Benefits of Water Play
"Water play is an excellent sensory-motor activity, and children think it's lots of fun," says Lee Scott, Chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at The Goddard School . She adds that, as children play with water, they develop skills in "scientific exploration, mathematics, gross and fine motor abilities , and creative expression."
Water play can also promote language and social-emotional development, says Wilson. "Language can be modeled and reinforced through water play, since it provides a time to speak, communicate, and ask open-ended questions ," she says. Parents can help by encouraging back-and-forth exchanges and inviting children to share what they're doing. (For example: "What do you plan to do with the scrub brush? I wonder what might happen when you place the sponge in the water?")
Finally, depending on the activity you choose, water play might have a calming effect. "Scooping, pouring and sifting can have the ability to relax young children and even adults. Enjoy the tranquility of water play," says Wilson.
Playing in the Water: Activities for Kids to Try
Not only will these seven activities entertain your toddler or preschooler, they'll also promote physical and cognitive development.
1. Water Transfer
Teach your child mathematical and scientific concepts with a simple water transfer activity. Using shovels, large spoons, buckets , or sponges, she can move water from one container to another. She can also count how many spoons of water or saturated sponges it takes to complete the transfer. "Through this easy-to-facilitate exploration, children learn math concepts about counting and measurement of volume," says Wilson. "They can also observe and record their prediction, explore absorption and saturation, and see cause-and-effect in their own world."
2. Sink or Float Experiment
Scott recommends a "float or sink" experiment, in which children place small items in water to see what sinks and what floats. Objects might include bath toys, rocks, coins, twigs, kitchen utensils, rubber balls, leaves, bottle tops, buttons, keys, and corks. You can do this experiment anywhere, whether it's in the bathtub , the kitchen sink, or a bucket.
The "sink or float experiment" teaches the scientific concepts of buoyancy and density (objects will float if they have a lower density than water). Children will also get some sensory play if you choose items with different textures. Finally, older kids can also guess whether each item will sink or float, which introduces them to the concept of making a hypothesis.
3. Water Painting
Your kids will feel like a secret agent with this water play activity! Here's how to do it: Have your child sit on the driveway, patio, or another concrete surface. Give him a bucket of water and a paintbrush, and let him draw on the ground. The drawings will quickly dry up under the sun to teach the concept of evaporation. Kids also develop fine motor skills and exercise creativity with water painting.
4. Squeeze, Scoop, Scrub
In this water play activity, you simply give your kid items while he's in the bathtub or swimming pool. Wilson has some recommendations: eye droplets or a food baster, a variety of spoons or measuring cups, squirt bottles, sponges, scrub brushes, dolls, toy cars, and bath toys. You can also add an additional element of fun with bubbles , she adds.
No matter how your child plays with the items, he'll develop fine motor skills and exercise imaginative thinking. "What appears to be simple movements of squeezing and scooping greatly supports the development of drawing and writing skills. This is a great finger exercise," adds Wilson.
5. Water Filtration
Scott recommends this water play activity for preschoolers, which involves straining dirty water with coffee filters or a cheesecloth. Start by mixing water with different substances like dirt, sand, mud, or pebbles. Then grab a coffee filter or cheesecloth, place it over a glass, and dump the contents inside. Make sure to do this over the sink or outside to prevent messes!
Your kid will learn that items with larger particles (like pebbles and sand) strain better, resulting in clearer water. Items with smaller particles (like mud and dirt), leave behind more residue—even after filtration—because they mix with the water.
6. Color Swirling
This experiment visually teaches about density. Mix a few tablespoons of vegetable oil or olive oil with food coloring, and pour the concoction into a clear glass of water. The oil will stay at the top, since it's less dense than water, while the food coloring falls into the water below. (This happens because food coloring is water-based, and therefore more dense than oil). The result is a marbling effect that looks like mini fireworks. Read more about this experiment at Go Science Kids .
7. Making Dams
Here's another idea from Scott. Real-life dams are used to retain water—and your kid can replicate this concept by making her own dam. Dig a small river in dirt or mud outside, and fill it with water. Encourage your kid to create a makeshift dam with sand, mud, rocks, or other objects she scavenges outside. She'll see that the liquid water can't pass the solid dam. Once you remove the dam, the flow of water begins again.
National Association for the Education of Young Children. The Importance of Sand and Water Play .
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.