Now that the warmer weather is here again, it is an ideal time for water play at Playgroup (or at home). It’s a simple, inexpensive activity that is enjoyed by all young children, from the baby who splashes in the bath to the pre-schooler who makes dams and rivers in the dirt.
BENEFITS OF WATER PLAY
* It is soothing and stimulating — it can calm the active child and give confidence to the shy child
* can be used in many ways so that it appeals to all children of all ages (including those who are way past childhood!).
* It encourages language development as the children talk about what they are doing. Parents can also increase the child’s vocabulary by using words such as trickle, splash, squelch, sprinkle, gurgle, drip, froth, foam and many more.
* Children can learn basic scientific concepts through water play – floating and sinking, freezing and melting, pouring, dissolving, absorption, etc.
* It makes no demands on children, allowing them to play with water in their own way, without fear of skills being criticised. They can practice pouring and measuring and no-one will complain about the mess.
In summary, water play provides opportunities for children to socialise, relax, extend their concentration span and develop confidence in their own abilities as they learn new concepts.
EQUIPMENT FOR WATER PLAY
* You can use an old baby’s bath, a wading pool or any large plastic container. Adult supervision is essential though, as young children can drown in a surprisingly small amount of water.
* Alternatively, let the children play under the sprinkler or with the garden hose while you are watering the garden.
* Equipment you may like to provide (but not all at once) can include funnels, sieves, plastic containers, sponges, corks, plastic tubing, squeeze bottles, an egg beater or whisk, rubber gloves and floating toys.
* If your Playgroup can afford it, a plastic water wheel is a great investment. The children are fascinated by the wheel spinning around as they pour water through the spout.
* Water play does not need to be restricted to the sunnier months. You can keep children amused for hours in the cooler weather by giving them a container of warm soapy water to play with or filling up the sink or laundry trough.
INVOLVING WATER PLAY
* Add a block of coloured ice to a container of water and let children watch the colour diffuse as it melts.
* Peg an old sheet to the fence and give the children spray bottles of coloured water to spray paint the sheet.
* Use a large ice cream container and make small holes .in each side. Insert long pieces of plastic tubing (available at crafts shops) into the holes. Add some detergent and warm water, then let the children blow bubbles together. This is great fun to do out-doors on a windy day, but make sure the children know the difference between blowing and sucking.
* Give the children small buckets of water with a paint brush so they can paint the fence or footpath.
* Put hands and feet in water and make prints on the concrete.
* Put a small piece of foam sponge in a bowl. Whisk up a concentrated solution of Lux flakes and water. Add the foam and let the children squeeze the soapy lather. It feels great when you walk on it with bare feet too!
* Children love to do their own washing, either plastic dishes, dolls or dolls clothes.
* Make simple boats out of polystyrene meat tray with paddle-pop sticks masts and paper sails.
* Play water table tennis using a polystyrene ball and straws to blow from one end of the bath to the other.
* Go for a walk in the rain and look at the colours in puddles, water washing down the gutters and raindrops on leaves and flowers.