This summer, Hassell has loved his water table. He had a smaller one last year, but we got a new one for him in May to better fit his height. At first, it brought hours and hours of excitement and engagement, all on its’ own. Like almost anything, the new faded and he began to lost interest after a few weeks of playing with it. If you’re in a similar situation with your littles (or even if you’re just now thinking about getting a water table), I’m writing this post for you! Here’s how we have been expanding play at our water table and a little child development reasoning behind it as well…
Before we really get started, let me just say how much I love water play! You don’t have to have a specific “water table” to get your little one involved; it can take place anywhere. When Hassell was just a few months old, I introduced water play during tummy time to keep it interesting! I placed him on a boppy pillow, put a little water in the bottom of a round cake pan, and let him watch a few toys float, offering him the chance to use his fingers to maneuver them around in the water. In my Kindergarten classroom, the water table was an absolute favorite space for the children. Even as an adult now, I love being in the water! Here are some ideas for water play if you don’t have a specific “water table”…
- Use your bath tub
- Pull up a chair by the kitchen sink
- Fill a large tub/tote and place on a towel
- Use bowls of various sizes at the kitchen table
“All They’re Doing Is Splashing, Right?
Wrong! Water play fosters learning in all developmental areas. It provides opportunities for children to experiment with math and science concepts, strengthen their physical skills, advance their social and emotional skills, and enhance language development (Crosser, 1994; Hendrick, 1996).”
Water Play: Wet and Wonderful
Idea 1: Add in some soap!
All you need for this activity is your water table + a little soap! We’ve used both Dawn blue dish soap and Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap. Both have worked really well! An added bonus? Our water table is sparkling after he plays in it!
Focus Skills and Concepts: new vocabulary, scientific observation, gross motor development, fine motor development, mathematics (more/less, empty/full, greater than/less than), problem solving, emotional growth, creativity
Idea 2: Utilize Various Household Tools
Super easy and highly effective at stopping boredom–simply switch out the materials so new household tools are being used! Literally, almost anything out of the kitchen seems to thrill Hassell. Adding in another friend to play also doesn’t hurt. So many valuable skills are introduced, even if the children simply play side by side like in the photos above. Here are some of our favorite household tools:
- Wooden spoons, spatulas, or ladles
- Measuring cups
- Smaller measuring spoons
- Various sized containers
- Dish cloths
- Paint brushes
Focus Skills and Concepts: new vocabulary, scientific observation, gross motor development, fine motor development, mathematics (more/less, empty/full, greater than/less than), problem solving, emotional growth, creativity, speech and language development, curiosity, density through sinking and floating
Idea 3: Help Foster Imaginary Play
One of Hassell’s other favorite ways to play at the water table is to incorporate items such as stuffed animals (okay to get wet, of course), baby dolls,
pretend kitchen supplies, or natural items (rocks, sticks, etc.). He usually first takes on the “job” of washing the stuffed animal or pretend foods. Sometimes he “cooks” or gives the baby a bath. This helps to foster creativity and imaginary play skills that are later needed for reading/writing/literacy. I also feel like it helps foster a kind, caring attitude as he cares for the items. We often combine this option with the bubbles to give a little extra excitement!
Focus Skills and Concepts: new vocabulary, scientific observation, gross motor development, fine motor development, mathematics (more/less, empty/full, greater than/less than), problem solving, emotional growth, creativity, speech and language development, pre-literacy concepts
Hopefully, this post gave you some fresh ideas and motivation to put your water table to use these last few weeks of hot weather! Do you have other objects you love adding to water play for your little ones? I’d love to hear them!