What is play?
Play consists of those activities performed for self-amusement that have social and behavioral rewards. It is child-directed and is enjoyable and spontaneous. Play allows children to gain control of their feelings, actions, and helps them achieve self-confidence.
What is water play?
Playing with water is not only a source of enjoyment, but it also helps in your child’s development. Water play involves using toys, buckets, containers and of course water, which your child can scoop, splash or pour with the above-mentioned tools.
Not only will your child stay occupied while playing with water, but he will also start to learn through fun hands-on play.
Benefits of water play:
- Language development
- Develop gross motor skills
- Social-emotional growth
- Develop fine motor skills
- Improve problem-solving skills
- Helps in concentration
- Develop mathematical and scientific skills
- Sensory exploration
- Release tension
Water play helps to develop your child’s language. When playing with water and several tools with it, your child builds new vocabulary. During water play, you can stimulate your child’s language by teaching them words like water, spray and bucket. You can even have a conversation with them by using new vocabulary like “the bucket is full” or “the duck is floating”.
Develop gross motor skills
Gross motor skills involve the movement of those muscles in our arms, legs or torso. When your child is hustling back and forth carrying a bucket or dumping water, it helps in the development of their gross motor skills.
Water play is a great opportunity to help build a child’s social and emotional growth. It is a way for your child to learn to work with one or more children. During water play, your child takes turns and share the accessories with their friends. Water play also helps your child to listen and take another person’s perspective into account. This helps them to develop empathy.
Develop fine motor skills
Water play helps in developing motor skills of your children. Their motor skills will increase when they are pouring, squirting or stirring the water. When a kid reaches out to feel the water trickle down his fingers, or when he grasps a bucket to fill it with water, this action will help him master the pincer grip, which will enable the child to hold a pencil at school.
Improve problem-solving skills
Water play offers many opportunities for children to problem solve, explore and experiment. When they watch a toy sink or float, they will learn how and why these things happen. Or when they are experimenting with transferring water through different tools, they learn through trial and error.
Helps in concentration
When the children are playing with water, they get immersed in the activity and spend hours exploring it. This helps them to focus on things, which will later help them in increasing their concentration span over time. When your child begins school, being able to concentrate in his class and work will become a vital skill.
Develop mathematical and scientific skills
Water play is a great way of developing essential mathematical skills in your kids. Through water play, they learn scientific concepts, such as volume and weight; the concept about full, empty or more or less. For example, your kid may notice that while one object can float, another can sink in the water. This will prompt them to investigate and they will check which objects sinks and which floats.
They also learn mathematical skills such as counting how many buckets of water it takes to fill a tub.
This kind of play provides countless opportunities for kids to explore their senses and experience various sensory experiences. When they add materials like toys, slime, ice or soap to the water, they are experiencing different textures such as slippery, squishy and gritty. They are also experiencing temperatures like warm and cold.
Water play helps to reduce stress. It is a healthy way for those children who are feeling frustrated or angry to release some tension. It calms and gives them pleasure when they are pouring or swishing water.
Some water play ideas:
- Let your kids practice transferring by pouring water to and from different sized containers.
- Fill a few buckets with water and use big paint brushes and rollers to “paint the walls”.
- Fill a pan or tray with soapy water and let your kids scrub their favorite toys clean.
- Freeze a few toys into a large block of ice and once it is done, have your kids melt the blocks using small plastic tools.
- Place pom-poms in the water and allow your kids to observe them as they absorb it. Have them take the drenched pom-poms and squeeze the water into empty containers.
Water play at home
It is not necessary to have an outdoor space to play with water, you can easily play it inside and it will be equally fun. There are days when we are stuck inside due to the weather and kids get bored. However, you can engage your kids inside with water play.
Setting up water play at home is incredibly easy; all you need is water and some form of container, and some utensils.
- Cups and containers of different sizes
- Natural materials such as sand, flowers, leaves and pebbles
- Toys and objects that will sink or float
- Funnels, bottles or eye droppers that can be used to transfer water between containers
- Spades and buckets
- Squeeze bottles