Water play is a great activity for both inside and outside, especially during those sweltering, humid summer days. This type of play is a wonderful way to keep kids cool and have fun too. The best part is, you can setup water activities almost anywhere at home. Such as, in your bath tub on rainy day, using your kitchen sink, or taking a couple buckets of water with a hose in the backyard. Water play gives your child the opportunity to be creative and think outside of the box; and it also can help with social skills, problem solving, math, motor skills, and hand-eye coordination.
Children can benefit from all creative play, and water play is a great way for children to use there imagination. They can use any toys that are water safe and use things like soap and sand to make different textures. You can make some water cold and some water warm, and even use food colouring to change the colour of the water or add sparkles/glitter. As long as it is a safe environment and they are supervised by an adult they are free to let their imagination be there guide.
For social skills, water play can be very relaxing. Just like baths, the feeling of warm water on a child's hands can help them relax and express themselves. After letting your child explore and play in the water for a while, try to engage in conversation about the water and how it makes your child feel. You could ask questions like, does the water feel nice between your fingers? Water can play can even help children release frustration or tension they may be feeling.
Also, water play is great for problem solving. There are so many different types of water toys; such as toys that float, that sink, that pour water out like watering pails, or even toys that spray water can aid with problem solving. Let your child see what can sink and what can float. Ask your child even before using toys in the water what toy they think will float and what toy they think will sink. Water play gives your child the ability to think critically and problem solve by themselves.
I have also incorporated water play when teaching math. Its a unique and fun way to get kids interested in fractions and measurement. Math can get boring for kids giving them the opportunity to not just use paper work sheets to learn something is great and they may even retain it better because it is fun. You can work with your child, water, and measuring cups. Using the water, they can measure out different fractions of water. For example, have them figure out how many cups it would take to fill a pail of water. Have them fill a measuring cup and pour it into the pail until its full. Have them calculate how many times they need to pour water into the pail, to discern how many cups were required!
Finally, water play is great for motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Playing with water is great for allowing a child to see what happens when objects become immersed in water, how textures can go from firm to slippery, or how water can add weight to certain objects. Have your child test their strength by filling a pail of water and see how much water it takes before it becomes to heavy for them. Have them see if they are able to play with toys that become slippery when wet. Can you still catch a ball when it's wet?
Because of the abundance of activities water provides outside of being a great thirst quencher, it is such an important tool to use in play and child development. Not only is it exercise to swim in the water, nutritious to drink; but with the right toys and right activities water play becomes a fun learning moment for you and your child too.