It’s a hot summer day, what better way to cool off than with some water play! Water play is a great open-ended, sensory rich experience for children of all ages. Whether your toddler loves getting soaked from head to toe, or happily stirs and scoops with water tools, water will help decrease the heat for everyone!
Water play is any activity that allows a child to explore and learn about water. From water tables to splash pads, all water play will help foster sensory exploration, imagination and development.
With the sensory experience water provides, water play targets multiple sensory systems. It is an imaginative type of play that can foster problem solving skills, improvements within fine and gross motor skills, regulation of emotions, and encouragement of social and language development.
Your child uses their senses (taste, touch, hearing, smell, sight, vestibular and proprioceptive) to explore within their daily environment in order to learn, grow and develop. They use the same senses to explore the different properties of water during water play activities.
Toddlers love experimenting! Explore mixing colors into your toddler’s water play activities by adding drops of food coloring or liquid watercolor to water containers.
Take an empty bin and fill it with water. Use water tools and add items that your child can scoop out with a spoon, or dump/pour into buckets!
Fill up a bin with water, ice and lemon, and allow your toddler to scoop and transfer. This water transferring activity is a great way to incorporate the senses of touch, smell, and taste!
Collect 5-10 sponges of various sizes. Dunk the sponges in water, and line them up outside on a hard surface, like the driveway. Encourage your toddler to walk across the sponges to squeeze the water out with their feet!
Have your toddler help you water the garden! This is a fun way to teach your child about how flowers grow, while keeping cool at the same time!
This outdoor water activity will test your toddler’s fine motor and investigation skills! Clean out empty bottles (I.e., ketchup, shampoo, lotion) and fill with water. Offer the containers to your toddler and encourage him/her to spray or squeeze the bottles to soak the driveway, outdoor toys, or outdoor furniture with water!
Fill up a kiddie pool and let your child splash and play on a hot summer’s day!
Sink or Float Activity: It is never too early to explore the concept of buoyancy! Use items from nature, like sticks, leaves, flowers, and rocks and make guesses as to what will happen!
Nicole Mayo is a pediatric occupational therapist at the NAPA Center Boston. She loves providing the necessary tools and strategies to help each child reach their fullest potential. Outside of the clinic, Nicole enjoys spending time with her family and exploring the outdoors.