Water Play Ideas

So it's summer and it's HOT! The children are running around and their little cheeks are turning pink; not from sunburn, but from dehydration. You are constantly reminding them to drink water...right? Even though we have drinking fountains in the yard, I also get some cups and a water dispenser to put out as well. They seem to drink much more water this way. As they are drinking, you can actually see the pinkness fade away.

How else do you keep them cool? Take out the hose! That's always fun. I time it so that I soak them real good and then turn off the hose. By the time we go in, they are dry. But really, running in the water is fun; however, ever thinking as a teacher, I want to know how I can enhance their development through this. Here are some ideas:

1. Give everyone a cup or other container. While you are spraying the hose, put the nozzle on a good shower and spray high up. Have them see how much water they can catch. Put a sensory table out of the spray zone and when their container is full of water, have them dump the water into the sensory table. How long will it take to fill? This works on eye-hand coordination, measuring, social skills, gross motor, and teamwork

2. Have a relay race. You don't necessarily have to race against each other; race against the clock if you like. Fill the sensory tub with water. Have two or three of the same item (large spoon, 1/4 cup measuring cup, plastic egg, etc...). At the start line (where everyone lines up) put the sensory table. At the other end place a sand bucket. Have the children fill their small container and run to the bucket and fill with the water. When they run back, they give their container to the next child in line. Continue until the bucket is full, the time is up, whatever works. This work on balance, gross motor, social skills, teamwork. Turn it into a math activity by having them guess how many times they will need to fill their smaller container to fill the bucket.

Let me say here that I am not opposed to a little bit of competition. Having two teams race against each other is fine as long as the children aren't allowed to have poor sportsmanship. Everyone is recognized for their efforts. Make sure you make the teams equal in strength and weakness. Run the event several times so everyone has a chance. However, if you children can't handle the competition, compete against the clock.

3. Make water parks! Get rain gutters, pipes, funnels, and lots of string. Use the fence to make ramps, tunnels, and mazes to dump the water into. Put a bucket at the bottom of the maze to catch the water. This works with conflict resolution, negotiations, spacial awareness, social skills, reasoning skills, math and science.

4. For the younger children who may not be able to think abstractly and create a water maze: take two sensory tables. Put one in its stand and fill with water. Take the other sensory table out of it's stand and put it on the ground a few feet away. Take a couple rain gutters or pipes and place one end in the tub on the ground. Lean the other end up on the edge of the taller sensory table. Provide different sizes of containers for them to pour water down to the other sensory tub. Is there a way to get the water back up? This plays with cause and effect, science, spacial awareness, science, reasoning skills.

5. Fill spray bottles with colored water (use liquid watercolors to make it washable). Put up a large white sheet or butcher paper. Let the kids spray! Attach things to the sheet (leaves, stencils, etc...) to spray at and see the impression that is made by the spray. If you are really brave have a child stand facing the sheet (so it doesn't get in their eyes) and spray around them to see the impression. With this activity (spraying the children with colored water) you need to have VERY understanding parents and enough knowledge to express what they are learning; but it's fun! The children will get fine motor skills, social skills, reasoning, creativity, science, social skill.

I am of the belief that every classroom should have a large white sheet/blanket/material/fabric that you can use over and over. The sheet holds color better and, if you do it right, it's washable. Plus with being white you can bleach it if the color doesn't come out. This white sheet can be used for spray bottle art, fly swatter art, painting with feet, and so much more. It doesn't matter if it loses its bright whiteness; it should! But it is so much sturdier than the butcher paper!

Does anyone else have any great water play activities?

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