Water Play - Supporting Your Child's Development

Water play is a great sensory activity for all ages and it is versatile and fun. You can play with water indoors or outdoors – in a bath, in a kitchen sink, in a wading pool, using buckets or even mixing water with dirt or sand in the garden or at the beach. There are numerous ways we can engage in water play!

Sensory

Water play can be a great way to explore the senses, especially through touch and vision.

Touch:

Playing with water can be a great way to explore different textures, temperatures and differing touch input. You can build up your child’s tolerance to different textures and types of tactile input through graded water play exposure, especially if distressed by certain textures.

Some activity ideas can include:

  • Bowls of dirt/sand, leaves, pinecones and water can make potions, sand castles, mudpies or even a mud swamp for dinosaurs.
  • You could set up a ‘car wash’ using bubbles to wash car toys.
  • The kids could help you wash the car.
  • Playing with ice in a bucket of water or freezing toys in a bucket of water and then breaking through the ice.
  • Jelly play
  • Pom poms that absorb water
  • Wet newspaper

Visual:

Water play can be a fantastic way to engage our visual systems; especially if your child finds it challenging to register and recognise differing visual information.

Some activity ideas can include:

  • Seeing what kitchen pantry items dissolve in water – oil, sugar, salt, flour etc
  • Seeing what materials absorb water – dirt, sand, sponge etc.
  • Watching objects sink or float to develop problem solving skills as they begin to learn why and how things happen.
  • Blowing bubbles in water.
  • Putting dye in water, freezing in ice cubes and then watching as the ice melts into the rest of the water or the colours mixing to create new colours.
  • Using coloured bubble bath.

Fine motor skills

Great ways to develop fine motor skills with water are:

  • Write your name on the floor using water on a paintbrush or your finger.
  • Writing with chalk and then using a spray bottle to wash the chalk off the cement helps to develop hand strength.

Gross motor skills

There are a lot of fun ways to develop gross motor skills when playing with water. The opportunity to use a wading pool or to go swimming in a pool or at the beach is a fantastic way to develop core strength, co-ordination and stamina across all the large muscle groups as children kick, splash and sweep their arms and hands through the water.

Some activity ideas can include:

  • The opportunity to use a wading pool or to go swimming is a fantastic way to develop core strength and co-ordination and stamina across all the large motor groups as children kick, splash and sweep their arms and hands through the water.
  • Estimating how many small pots of water it takes to fill a large bucket.
  • Running through sprinklers.
  • Watering the garden.
  • Using water balloons or a water gun to hit a target is a great way to develop refined hand eye coordination.

Emotional regulation

Water play can be busy or it can be calming. Some activity ideas that are busy or calming include:

  • Repetitive scooping, pouring and running hands through water can be relaxing.

· Warm water can be relaxing.

  • Vigorous splashing, kicking and running around in the water can be an excellent outlet for pent up energy. A great way for kids to have fun and let off steam!

Social skills

Water play can be a great way for children to learn to share and take turns as they share the physical space and the play items in the water.

Simple task like working together to fill a bucket with scoops of water from small cups is great for developing skills around teamwork and co-operation needed for building friendships in the future.

Please stay tuned for other more exciting blogs!

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