Reading on Early Learning and Development



By Slava Prakhiy

There are so many things your baby or toddler can learn through water play. And it is so easy, no need to spend lots of money on toys and they will be playing for hours.

Some useful things you might need

  • different size pots and pans OR/AND
  • tubs you use for hand-washing clothes
  • containers of different size and shape
  • funnels
  • scoops (use big plastic serving spoons. in fact, many kitchen utensils often come handy in child's play)
  • wine corks (they float and the collecting process can be quite enjoyable for the parents)
  • plastic syringe, small water pistol or an empty shampoo bottle
  • food coloring liquids of different colors (you can buy them in a baking section of your supermarket)
  • tongs (try to find ones covered with plastic or rubber as the metal ones can be quite sharp)

Obviously, water will be splashed, otherwise it would not be so much fun! So, choose the area of play carefully. When my son was a baby we did this sort of play either on our balcony on hot days or in the bath tub. No need to fill the bath with water, just place all the playing materials into the tub, strip to a nappy and a t-shirt and play away. You can even climb into the bath tub with your little one if the tub is big enough, try it, it's fun!

Once my son got a little older we would play with water using large pots and containers placed on a table and I would just cover the floor under the table with a large plastic tablecloth.

Some of the things you can do

(please do not limit yourself to any lists, use your imagination)

  • "fish out" wine corks (or other floating objects) with a scoop, tongs or just fingers
  • try counting them out loud when you place them into a container
  • squirt water with a plastic syringe or a squeezable empty shampoo bottle, try aiming at some light objects that could fall when you get them, like toy soldiers or cars (or even those useful wine corks)

What's developing and improving: hand-eye coordination, muscle tone, fine motor skills, counting skills

Fill up different-size containers with water to different levels and pour the water out into other containers through funnels. I would often use glass jars of different sizes and put them inside large pots so that water wouldn't spill all over the table when my son was pouring it out. IF YOU ARE USING GLASS JARS TAKE GREAT CARE AND NEVER LEAVE THE CHILD AT THE TABLE UNATTENDED!

Take 2 large pots, leave one empty and fill the other one with water. Place several smaller plastic containers or glass jars inside the empty pot. The child can either use a small plastic container, a scoop, a serving spoon or even a syringe to fill the empty jars and containers with the water from the large pot.

Add some color to the water with food coloring and learn colors while you are playing. They will also be learning how fun and interesting it is to mix colors. Stick to only a few colors and try to select primary colors such as Green, Red and Blue. Kids get confused very easily if you try to teach them too many colors at the same time.

What we are learning: volumes, concept of empty/full, colors, color mixing.

Imaginative play

One of my son's favorite games during bath time was "Rescue". We would use small dolls, rubber animals and toy soldiers and if they fell into the water we would Rescue them by putting them back safely into the toy boats and ships.

Other things you can do pretend playing with water:

  • play "fishing" in the tub (make a fishing rod out of a small and smooth tree branch, thick knitting needle or even a pencil and some rope)
  • giving dolls a bath, washing their hair
  • washing the dishes etc. imitate anything that mom does around the house or help mom for real.
  • you can give the child a clean sponge or a mop with a short handle.
  • in the bath pretend it's raining while you pour water through a strainer
  • and many more...

So go on, start splashing - water can be fun all year around!