Water play activities can:
- Be a calming, sensory activity
- Provide children with hands on learning in the areas of science, math and more
- Develop fine and gross motor skills
- Give adults an opportunity to offer new vocabulary
- Get kids interacting with each other
- Encourage creativity
I’ve collected 20 ideas for water play below. I tried to find a variety of ideas to keep kids busy all year round, indoors and out. Some are familiar favorites at my daycare, some are new to me and I can’t wait to give them a try!
While close supervision during water play activities is a must, let your kids be free to explore. Getting wet and muddy is part of the fun.
20 Water Play Activities
- Car Splash. My daycare kids invented this fun game recently. Using the water table lid (affiliate link) as a ramp, they launch the cars at just the right speed to splash them into the water table. Ramps, cars and water – so many possibilities!
- Water Painting. All you need is some old paint brushes and a bucket of water. Kids can paint the sidewalk, fence, house, toys, trees – whatever they can find! It’s especially exciting to watch the paintings fade away in the sun.
- Funnels and Water Wheels (affiliate link). This is a fun one for a water table or kiddie pool. Add cups or pitchers and even turkey basters to the mix for extra fun.
- Water Wall. Here’s a great idea from Let the Children Play. You can make your own water wall using recycled plastic containers. Use a bucket under the wall to catch and reuse the water. What fun!
- Colored Water. Add a few drops of food coloring to the water table to keep things interesting. Perhaps a blue tint for the ocean animals? Older children can experiment with color mixing.
- Sink or Float? This is a great game in a water table or out in nature. Invite kids to predict whether an item will sink or float and then test their hypothesis. Older children may be interested in building a raft or boat out of natural materials at hand.
- Rain Gutter Water Ways. Explore gravity with this idea from A Childhood List. All you need is a couple of clean rain gutters and buckets or bins.
- Giant Ice Cube Awesomeness. Keep kids busy and cool exploring the properties of ice with this idea from Crumbbums. Simply freeze some plastic animals into a huge ice cube and enjoy!
- Sensory Soup. Develop fine motor skills and engage the senses by cutting up fresh herbs for sensory soup (from Happy Hooligans).
- Puddle Stomping. This is an old classic. Whether you get warm summer rains or cool winter storms, puddles are water play at its best! Stomp, float leaves, drop in rocks… use your imagination!
- Mud Pies. A childhood classic that never gets old! Find a space to set up a simple mud pie picnic!
- Measurement and Volume. Encourage children to explore volume and measurement by adding measuring cups, spoons and pitchers to the water table.
- Spray Bottle Fun. Kids love to spray plants, the sidewalk, themselves and each other on a hot day! Be careful of removable tips on the bottles which may be a choking hazard for younger children.
- Clean up Time. It’s amazing how clean up can be fun when it’s not a requirement! My kids have done this many times – sponges, water and play cleaning supplies is all you need (from Mess for Less).
- Listen to the Rain. Stand under an umbrella and just listen. Use the garden hose if you’d like to do this activity on a dry day.
- Alphabet Fishing. Support your child’s budding literacy and motor development by setting up an alphabet fishing activity. Simply write letters on ping pong balls, toss them in the water table and hand over a fishing net.
- Indoor Water Play. Cold outside? Bring water play indoors! Place a towel on the floor or table under a large bowl or a plastic bin. Add some warm water and any variety of toys and you’ve got a fun and calming indoor activity.
- Rain Painting. Take a wet painting outside in light rain or mist and see the effect of the drops.
- Toothbrushing Practice. Encourage dentil hygiene and have fun with water indoors! This idea from Teach Preschool uses toothbrushes, toothpaste, water and plastic egg carton “teeth.”
- Baby Bath Station. Happy Hooligans reminded me of this fun water play activity. I’ve had a lot of success with it in the past but haven’t set it up in a while. Simply provide plastic baby dolls, wash cloths, sponges, soap, etc. and tubs of water. It’s tons of fun with the added bonus of squeaky clean baby dolls at the end.