Water tables are not cheap, a pain to store if like up you have short warm months, and for people in smaller houses, condos and apartments bulky even if they are being used. So this is an easy and fun way to play with water with simple toys and tools that can be used for other things as well. The bike helmet is optional.
- Gather your materials. You will need a plastic bin ( I got this one in the dish rack aisle at Walmart for under $3, some fun beach type toys like this water mill which I love because it is so dynamic and was bought at Target for $1.99, then a turkey baster, a silly funnel and measuring cups from my kitchen. Also water !
- There aren’t many steps other than play outside, or place some towels down around it as well as have some handy if you are playing inside.
- For more fun add ice cubes and/or bath toys.
- If you are doing this outside after your child has had enough , water your plants, grass and flowers!
Books About Water
Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen is a funny little story about a group of animals trying to get into a little rowboat without capsizing. The reader is asked time and time again who they think sank the boat was it the big cow? The fat pig? you’ll have to read to find out. This would be a fun book to read while exploring a Sink and Float activity.
Big Red Tub by Julia Jarman is a silly tale with really great little subtle details. A brother and sister are in the tub splashing about when their dog jumps in. The fun continues with more and more animals jumping in the big red tub. Finally the tub breaks free from the bathroom and eventually ends up in space! It’s a fantasy but they come back down to reality when mom walks through the door , complete with briefcase while dad is in the background with the shampoo. I loved that detail, nothing is overt but for families with stay at home dads it’s a great shout out I think. Also if you look closely you will see some of the animals that jumped in the bath as toys, slippers and more strewn about the bathroom.
Water by Tara McClintick a preview can be read online here on memetales. The book is a wordless collection of photos of water proceeded by a poem about water. The photos include water in many different forms, a water fountain , pool, shower, glass of water and more. I love that it shows how water is used for so many purposes, delivered in so many different ways but are is always wet. Great basic book!
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We’ve been doing a lot of crafts and young children need to have free art time to create, as well a variety of sensory experiences to discover new things, so this was the perfect answer! Also the ice cubes don’t melt very fast so we were able to pack them up to use for another day!
- Gather your materials. You will need an ice cube tray, some paint, water, a few paper towels, paper and a pan.
- Start the night before and put some paint in the ice cube tray. Add water and freeze.
- In the morning or after , pop the ice cubes out and let soften for about 5 minutes.
- Line your pan with a layer of paper towel add a piece of paper .
- Start painting ! While painting ask about how it feels, see if they will hold the cubes long enough to make a few drips of water etc… there is no wrong way to do this.
- Gather your materials. You will need some clear or white glass or plastic containers. Food coloring, water , a turkey baster and a thick place mat or towel under the jars.
- Start by letting your child get accustomed to using the turkey baster to transfer the water from one container to another. They do make child size turkey basters and sell them at educational stores like Lakeshore learning but I am just using a regular old one.
- Next add blue and red to two of the jars and have clear water in the third. Ask about the colors and if your child is old enough, ask them to make a prediction about what will happen if you mix the colors.
- Continue with as many color combinations as they want. My son had a blast making green and we re did this experiment 4 or 5 times.
- If they are getting frustrated with how slow the turkey baster is encourage them to pour the water into the other jars.
- The fun can keep going as long as they are interested, our experiment lasted about 30 minutes which was about 15 minutes longer than I expected!
” A Rainbow Of My Own” by Don Freeman is a charming story about wanting a rainbow, you may notice that the colors are out of order but I have always used that as a teaching tool in my classes.
” Little Blue and Little Yellow” by Leo Lioniis a profound book with underlying commentary about race relations while the surface story is about little blobs of color who when squished together turn into one green blob!
- Gather your materials. You will need some water, and a variety of paint brushes ( make sure they are clean you don’t want to really paint your house).
- Dip your paint brush into the water and start painting! Fences or other unpainted works the best because it will darken when “painted”
- While you are painting with your child, point out the dry wall and the wet brush and ask them what happens when they paint it. Little exchanges like this are fantastic teaching opportunities. Remember though if they just want to do it in peace, let them you can always recap later.
- When your child starts getting uninterested- in a insanely enthusiastic way introduce the next brush. I know that this is hard for people who aren’t used to being surrounded by small kids , but a little enthusiasm goes a long way- feel free to fake it too .My son loved the roller- I gave it to him last and ended up having to go grab a coffee cause he played with it for almost 20 minutes alone! ( By grabbing a coffee I mean from my kitchen , not Starbucks).
Note to Parents: Relax, put down a towel and don’t you dare do this in the bath tub, kids love water and they need to have fun and explore how it feels, works and looks outside of the routine of a bath.
- Gather your materials. I like to use a container in relation to your child’s age. So the smaller the baby the smaller the tupperware ! You should never have anything large enough that a child could get into and cause themselves harm. You don’t need a huge container for a good time. You will also want some fun things to put in the water- oh and you may want to make sure anything you don’t want in the water is out of reach!
- Have fun pouring and if you have an older child, grab some measuring cups and measure out the water, pour it fast, or slow, try to make a teeny tiny trickle. Follow your child’s lead, if pouring is boring move on!!
- Get your testers ready- find things in your house for this experiment! Young toddlers will have fun splashing but I have done this experiment with kids as young as 2 successfully. Be animated, follow their cues and throw those toys in the water! As you pop them in ask your child if they think it will stay bouncy floating on top or if they will fall all the way to the bottom and sink.
- If your child likes to learn with words and charts make a simple chart like this one. You can test out each object and put them in the right colum. If your child just thinks it’s fun to put the wet toys on paper that’s cool too. Don’t push , we want them to explore.
- If you have an older child try making predictions before the experiment. I have always been amazed that the Melissa and Doug blocks don’t sink, they get me every time! I had to go searching for this car just so I had something to sink! Remember it’s great to admit that you thought one thing and were shocked to be proven wrong, discover things with your child !
Note to Parents - I have met very few preschoolers ( and I know lots) that don’t love to sing, so why not!! Also when you sing with your child don’t worry about how you sound, they don’t care, in my opinion the sillier the better!
Here is one of my favorite songs with the water theme in it! This was always a big hit with my students. Click on the video to see how silly adults with no make up and messy hair are singing kids songs- and for the actions!
Five green and speckled frogs
sat on a speckled log
eating the most delicious bugs
yum yum !
One jumped into the pool
where it was nice and cool
now there are 4 green speckled frogs
Keep going until no more left!
Here are some great picture books that support this theme, so if your child had fun with the water and or song you could introduce these books at a quiet , or not so quiet time too!
“Splash!” by Flora McDonell
“Water is Wet” by Penny Pollack
Note to Parents – let your young child take the lead, they are always learning , always absorbing and not everything HAS to be a teachable moment. Suggest and offer activities but be prepared to end things early or move on to something else, that is ok, normal and healthy! Learning doesn’t happen in a forced environment , but rather one rich in opportunities and experiences!