by Katie Brazerol
Water play can keep children cool during these hot summer months. Try some of the following suggestions to integrate water play into your day, even if you don’t use a pool.
- Fill spray bottles with water and turn the stream to the “mist” setting. (Small spray bottles can often be found in the travel/sample size section in the health and beauty department.) Allow the children to spray flowers, trees, the fence, and themselves!
- Freeze water in ice cube trays and dump them into a large tub of water. Allow the children to play freely with them.
- Fill a round bucket, such as an ice cream pail, with water and freeze overnight. Run the bucket under warm water until the ice block loosens from the pail. Gather the children outside, and have them take turns rolling the block of ice down the driveway or across the cement. What happens as the ice block melts?
- Fill your sensory table or a large plastic tub with water, and provide funnels, scoops, cups, turkey basters, and spoons for the children to use. (Tip: Poke tiny holes in the bottom of a plastic container to create a sieve.)
- Fill empty plastic containers about half full with water. Set them on the grass or cement and let the children practice pouring water from one container to another.
- Set up a sprinkler and call it a “car wash.” Invite the children to go through it with riding toys.
- Provide sponges and buckets of water. Pair the children and have them dip the sponge into water and then practice tossing and catching it.
- Use buckets of water or a hose to create several large puddles on the pavement. Provide balls to bounce into the puddles. Or, simply allow the children to jump from puddle to puddle.
- Provide warm, soapy water in buckets. Add several dishrags, and invite the children to wash the outdoor toys.
- Fill a beverage container with water and place it on a tabletop outside. Provide cups for the children to practice pouring or dispensing their own drinks.
- Place a clear large tub of water outside. Predict and investigate outdoor items to find out if they sink or float.
- Create a manmade river by laying out ten to fifteen feet of aluminum foil. Scrunch and roll both sides of the foil so it will hold water. Turn on the hose lightly and set it on one end of the “river.” Watch as the water runs all the way to the end. Provide small “fish” cut from foam to float down the river!
- Gather the children near a hose. Hold the hose upright into the air and place your thumb over the end to create an arc of spraying water. If you’re lucky, the water and sunlight will mix to create a rainbow!
- Play Water Limbo! Hold a hose so it creates an arc of water. Invite the children to move under the arc without getting wet. Lower the arc after each round.
- Provide tongs and ice cubes. Create a relay game and challenge the children to pick up the ice cubes with the tongs and walk quickly across the yard without dropping them.
Note: Be sure to supervise water play at all times. With infants and toddlers, you need to be within touching distance. They can drown in a surprisingly small amount of water.