The Benefits Of Water Play In Early Childhood

A Happy kid water play in a backyard in a Hot summer day
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When it comes to child’s play, water play is a fantastic way to keep them entertained on a hot summer day. But what about the benefits of play on a child?

Water play helps promote a child’s curiosity, and gross and fine motor skills, it’s perfect for socializing with other kids and promotes problem-solving, and cognitive development too.

Water play doesn’t have to be difficult either! Your child can get a lot out of a simple sprinkler or water hose, or they might enjoy playing with filling up and dumping out buckets of water.

But don’t worry, in this article, we will break down some of the best fun water play activities you can do with your child that will help them learn through play.

What is Water Play?

Water play, as the name suggests, is any type of play that involves water.

Water play can be as simple and safe as putting some water into a small container. However, you can add to it by adding a few drops of food coloring or food dye to plain water and stirring it up with a spoon. Or, can also be more involved, such as building boats out of recycled materials that actually float in a pool or bathtub.

There are endless possibilities when it comes to water play. It just depends on your child’s imagination and what they are interested in.

If you want to give your child water play, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. The most important thing is safety, so make sure you always keep an eye on your child when they are playing with water.

Another important consideration is the type of water play activity that you choose.

You will want to make sure it is age-appropriate and something that your child will enjoy.

5 Benefits Of Water Play

When children start acknowledging their environment and using natural resources as part of their play, they start developing a sense of understanding of the world around them. Water play envokes a certain amount of curiosity in children and gives them the means to explore their environment.

It also develops an understanding of their ability to affect and influence nature and the world around them. Water play can be both educational and fun while having an array of benefits for your child. Ultimately, it encourages children to understand the unknown.

Let’s explore the 5 benefits of water play to a growing child:

  1. Water play introduces scientific and math concepts
  2. Water play develops fine motor skills
  3. Promotes hand-eye coordination
  4. Improves focus and concentration
  5. Develops communication and social skills

BONUS: Promotes sensory development

Water play introduces scientific and math concepts

Outdoor water play is just the perfect medium when it comes to demonstrating scientific and mathematical concepts like float or sink, or heavy and light.

Obviously, this is dependent on the activity you give your child to do.

If your child is playing with a sprinkler, you can use it as an opportunity to explain that the waterfalls are because of gravity. To demonstrate weight, you can have your child fill up an empty bucket with water and then compare it to a full bucket.

Your child might start noticing that one object floats on water while the other sinks. This is a great opportunity to explain the concept of density.

Water play develops fine motor skills

Pouring, scooping, and splashing are all great ways for your child to develop their fine motor skills. These are the same skills that they will need for writing and drawing.

Practicing fine motor skills in water play can be a lot more fun than sitting at a table! You can get them to pick up small rocks or objects that are in the water.

You can get them to squeeze different colored water with an eye dropper to create a beautiful artwork.

You can also give them tongs to pick up objects from the water and transfer them to another container. There are many different ways that you can help your child develop their fine motor skills and crucial social skills through water play.

Promotes hand-eye coordination

Boys Playing In Water

Water is an amazing activity when it comes to promoting hand-eye coordination in your kid. When they are playing with water, they will need to use their hands to pour and splash while also keeping an eye on what they are doing.

This is a great opportunity for them to practice hand-eye coordination. You can help your child develop their hand-eye coordination by giving them different objects to play with within the water. For example, you can give them a small cup to pour water into a larger container.

You can also try putting a few drops of food coloring into the water to make it more interesting.

Improves focus and concentration

Have you ever seen your kid completely immerse in the game that they are playing? Well, water play can have this kind of effect on your children. This is because water play requires your child to focus on what they are doing.

It also requires them to be very attentive and aware of their surroundings, which helps improve their concentration levels. Not only will this help them do better in school but it can also benefit them later on in life as well.

Develops communication and social skills

Water play is a great opportunity for your child to develop their communication and social skills. When they are playing with water, they will need to communicate with you and other children.

This is a fantastic way for them to learn how to share and take turns. Gentle water play is also a great opportunity for your child to develop their social skills through interacting with other children.

Promotes sensory development

Little boy enjoying a foamy bubble bath

Water play is also a great way to promote sensory development and stimulate your child’s senses. The feel of the water on their skin, the sound of the water splashing, and the smell of the water are all great sensory experiences for your child.

Sensory development is a crucial part of a child’s development. There are many different ways that you can help your child develop their senses through water play. Sensory fun is a vital skill that can be learnt from water play in a fun way.

Encouraging them to play with water encourages them to experience this tactile feeling. You can change it up by using warm water or cold water. Ad a little dish soap to make a bubble bath for a different sensory feel.

You can also add other senses into the play such as smell and visual stimulus. You can try adding a few drops of essential oils to the water to make it smell nice. You can also add a little bit of food coloring to the water to stimulate their visual senses.

Water Play for Activities For Toddlers & Pre-Schoolers

There are a few fun simple ideas and exciting water play ideas that you can try with toddlers and pre-schoolers on a warm day like a water table. Some of them are:

Fish Ice Play

Fill a plastic bottle with water in the shape of a fish and then freeze it overnight. Take out the frozen bottle and let your child smash up the ice to reveal little fish.

You can also add a few drops of food coloring to make it more fun and exciting while your children play.

Squirt Bottle Painting

Little girl draws with paint from a bottle in the snow copy space.

Fill a squirt bottle with water and a few drops of food coloring. Let your child draw and paint on the sidewalk or any other surface. This is a great activity for those young creative artists.

Muddy Animal Farm

This is a great activity for toddlers and preschoolers. You will need some mud, plastic animals, and a container. First, make sure that the container is big enough for your child to fit their hand in.

Fill the container with mud and then bury the plastic animals in it. Let your child dig through the mud to find the buried animals. This is a great way to promote problem solving and fine motor skills.

Some children who are tactile sensitive may find this sensory activity too much for their little hands. Therefore, you can start with mostly water with some mud for them to play with.

Colour Mixing

This is a great activity for teaching your child about colors. You will need two containers, water, and food coloring. Fill one container with water and add a few drops of food coloring to it.

Fill the other container with just water. Let your child pour the colored water into the container with just water. This will help them understand how colors mix together and experience the magic of color mixing.

Water Play Activities For School-Aged Children

While kids can enjoy the time in the water with all the activities mentioned above, there are some amazing activities that older children can enjoy as well.

Cup to Cup Transfer

This is a great activity to help improve your child’s fine motor skills. You will need two cups, water, and a small object like a marble or a penny. Fill one cup with water and place the small object in it.

Ask your child to transfer the water from one cup to the other without pouring the small object into the other cup. This activity requires fine motor control and can help develop emotional regulation and problem solving skills.

Water Balloon Toss

Kids playing with water ballons

This is a great activity for school-aged children. You will need some water balloons and two buckets. Fill the balloons with water and then place them in one of the buckets.

Your child’s task is to toss the balloon into the other bucket. This helps improve hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills.

You can make it more challenging by encouraging them to try and not break the water balloon when they throw it into the bucket.

You can also make it more challenging by getting them to throw from a further distance from the bucket.

Noodle Sculptures

This is a great activity for kids who love to be creative. You will need some noodles, water, and a container. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Once they are cooked, place them in the container with water.

Once they are in the water, you can get the children to create creative sculptures.

Sponge Toss

This is a great activity for older kids. You will need some sponges and a bucket of water. Fill the sponges with water and place them in the bucket. Then, challenge your child to toss it into another bucket or container as far away as possible.

Water Balloon Dodge Ball

This is yet another exciting activity for older kids, especially on hotter days. You will need some balloons, water, and two buckets. Fill the balloons with water and then place them in two buckets.

Separate the children into two teams. Each team has one bucket of water balloons. Then we play dodge ball.

Each team’s aim is to throw the balloon and hit the members of the other team. Once a team member has been hit by the water balloon, they are out of the game. The team with most players still in the game when you run out of water balloons, is the winning team!

What Type Of Play Is Water Play?

Water play is an open-ended activity that allows children to explore outcomes and make new discoveries. Simple things like filling and dumping containers can turn into a lesson on math concepts like capacity and volume. Water play also develops cognitive skills as children experiment with how different materials interact with water. Plus, it’s just plain fun!

When Should I Introduce Water Play To My Child?

You can introduce water play to your child as soon as they start exploring with their hands. However, it is important for adult supervision, especially for younger children. Every child is different, so use your best judgment.

Conclusion

There are many different types of water play that both toddlers and older kids can enjoy. Whether you are looking for a fun activity to keep your child occupied on a hot day or you want to help them develop their fine motor skills, there are plenty of options.

If you are interested in trying out some water play with your child, consider one of the activities listed above. With a little bit of water and some imagination, you and your child are sure to have a blast!

References

23 easy & fun water play activities for toddlers and preschoolers. Messy Little Monster. (2020, June 20). Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://www.messylittlemonster.com/2020/06/water-play-activities-for-toddlers-preschoolers.html

The benefits of water play for childhood development. Busy Bees. (2021, September 16). Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://www.busybees.edu.au/the-benefits-of-water-play-for-childhood-development-2/

Top 5 benefits of water play. Playgroup WA. (2021, November 9). Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://playgroupwa.com.au/benefits-of-water-play/

Vigil, B., Games, J., Rojas, D., Mark, C., & Mark, C. (2022, April 29). 15 best water games. Play.Party.Plan. Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://www.playpartyplan.com/outdoor-water-games/

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