Take a moment to remember how you played with water as a child. Did you dip your toes into a cold stream? Maybe you made paper boats to sail across a backyard puddle. Did you enjoy the summer days in Lake Michigan? Maybe you mastered the skill of skipping stones. However it might be that you remember the joy of playing with water, we would like to share that same joy with your little LEAPers.
Although sometimes cumbersome and slippery, we love incorporating water into different stations at LEAP! Whether it’s at the sensory bin with our favorite water animals, at process art with spray bottles or at the dig pit mixed in with dirt, adding water is simple and fun! Water is a great way to provide different play, development and learning opportunities.
Here are just some of the benefits from using a little H2O and some tips to help see them in action:
Rich sensory experience: Water can come in many different forms and from many different sources! This allows little ones to engage their senses – we can hear, taste, see, feel and smell water!
Under the right conditions rain is the best water way to explore all the senses. We can: hear the rain both while outdoors or indoors, taste the droplets on our tongue, see the ripples in the puddles, feel the rain on our bodies and smell the renewed air.
What happens when water crystals freeze in the winter? They makes snow! Snow is also great fun once we are all bundled up in our winter coats and boots. Use a black piece of construction paper to collect snowflakes, observe their differences and watch them melt!
Fine and Gross Motor Development: Water play can promote the use of both large and small muscles. Lifting and moving a bucket to and from a water source, pouring into measuring cups and funnels, and avoiding or jumping into puddles all enhance muscle development.
A great activity to practice those motor skills is gardening! Fill up your buckets and water your plants with the help of your little one!
If you have an artist in your home try one of our favorite process art activities – water painting! Using paintbrushes, sponges or fingers you can create a masterpiece on a sidewalk, porch or even on the brick wall!
For indoor fun try using funnels, eye droppers and toothbrushes in a bin with water or in the tub for some bath time fun! With some soap and small sponges they can create bubbles and foam to wash their favorite animal toys – scrub-a-dub-dub!
Cognitive Development: Little ones are scientists by nature and they often use the scientific method while they play. They hypothesize, test and observe how different actions change a result! Water is so versatile that it is a great way to encourage curiosity and intrigue!
Offer new substances to experience, explore, and develop an understanding of basic chemical transformation. Try mixing water with dirt, sand, or paint by using bowls, whisks, and spoons to see what your LEAPer stirs up!
Use different sized containers to experiment measuring with shapes and volume! Or practice sorting different loose parts as those that float and those that don’t!
Language Development: Water play can stimulate so much creativity and imagination with just about any added materials! Be it animal figures and dirt for a swampy scene, sponges and bubbles for some clean up fun or pots and colanders for some silly soup! These are great opportunities to introduce new vocabulary and practice building sentences.
If you’re playing in the winter snow, discuss melting, cold, temperature, and freezing. Feel free to narrate for your little one as they experience the winter! You’re exploring the ice with your fingers. I wonder what it feels like when I touch it. Brrrrr, it’s cold and hard like a rock!
If you’re exploring a new beach or lake, discuss shallow and deep, make observations about local flora and fauna. Feel free to narrate for your little one as they experience the new area! These rocks can be slippery when they are wet. The water covers ours toes! I wonder if the water will cover our knees if we take five more steps.
So water you waiting for? Add some fun to your day with a little H2O! Let us know how your little one likes to play with water in the comments below!
Written by Brenda Rivera