Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Water Play

Sensory play is one of the greatest things for young children - they love to touch and feel and mush and pour and scoop and we love that they can learn so much from it! I am aware that sensory play can get a bit messy (think sand, playdough, various goops and doughs all over your floor...) so the most convenient place for it is, of course, outdoors. However, it's not always possible to play outdoors and if you're very mess averse, your easiest indoor sensory play solution is water (it's also the cheapest...).

I know that even though water is not inherently messy, it is still wet. Here's what I do when Little C plays with water indoors:
  1. Lay a thick plastic tablecloth on the floor (not the thin kind you get at the party store)
  2. Layer 2 bath towels on top of the tablecloth.
  3. Dress Little C in a swimsuit (something I learned after this picture was taken!) and attempt to contain her to the covered area :-)

Basic Water Play Supplies (many of which are probably already in your house!)
  • Dish tub or plastic storage bin
  • Plastic measuring cups
  • Small plastic cups
  • Small plastic bottles
  • Spoons, scoops, small ladles
  • Sand sifters, small strainers/colanders (you can make some by punching holes in plastic containers)
  • Whisks
  • Water wheel
  • Eye droppers, turkey basters
  • Ice
  • Food coloring
  • Bubble bath (or any soap to add bubbles!)

That being said, let's quickly talk learning. During water play children first learn to scoop and pour - great for developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination! This leads to the concepts of empty and full and later on more measuring activities such as "how many small cups does it take to fill the big cup?" I'll get into more specific water play extensions as we explore them!

Quick Tips: If you don't want to bother with a full water/sensory table outside, small inflatable pools are a great substitute!
If you have an infant (or a really hard-to-contain tot!) you can use a large food storage container and set him up in his high chair/booster seat and place the container of water right on the table or tray.

Mama's Little Bear:
Little C: 18 months

Age Guide:
Newborn: ~0-4mos
Infant: able to manipulate objects well either while laying on stomach or sitting up, ~4-12mos
Tot: fully mobile (standing and walking) but yet unable to understand complex ideas/directions, ~12-24mos
Toddler: capable of understanding more complex ideas/directions and expanded communication skills, ~2-3yrs
Preschooler: more refined fine/gross motor & conversational skills, capable of intentional planning and problem solving, ~3-yrs
School-age: ~6yrs+

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