Water Play - Supporting Your Child's Development

While we are playing at the beach, in the pool or even taking a nice hot babble bath we can easily incorporate lots of fun ways to work on language skills with our kids!


During water play, we can start to introduce or build our children’s understanding of common vocabulary used when doing activities including water. This can range from using descriptive language, for example, ‘water’ ‘rain’, ‘ocean’ ‘pool’. We can also target this by expanding the children’s use of ‘doing’ words, or verbs e.g. ‘splashing’, ‘swimming’, ‘bathing’. We can teach this vocabulary in many different environments, inside or outside such as at the beach, at the pool, playing under the sprinkler or in the shower or bath.


There are a number of ways we can work on different concepts whilst engaging in water play, such as ‘hot’/’cold’, ‘up’/’down’, ‘hard’/’soft’ and ‘big’/’little’.

One fun way to target many different concepts is to take a trip to the beach or the pool with your child, and talk about the different things you can see. For example you may…

  • Compare big and little puddles (e.g. let’s jump in the ‘big’ puddle)
  • Compare climbing up and down (e.g. let’s climb ‘up’ the water slide and then slide ‘down’ the water slide
  • Compare the temperature of the water (e.g. this water is ‘cold’, but this water is ‘warm’)

Social skills

When we are engaging in water play there are lots of different ways to reinforce our social skills; this could include playing games in the pool that include turn-taking or sharing such as…

  • Drip Drip Drop- This game is similar to the traditional Duck Duck Goose. Get your children to sit around in a circle. The child who is ‘it’ has a cup of water. They walk around the circle saying “drip”, “drip” while dripping a little bit of water on each child’s head. When they choose the person they want to tag, they yell “DROP!” and pours all of the water on that child’s head. This is a great opportunity to practice turn taking being ‘it’.

This game is a fantastic way to remind our children the importance of turn taking with others to ensure that the game is fair and everyone enjoys themselves!

Following instructions

Following instructions is a critical skill for all our children that is needed in many settings such as at home, kindergarten and school. To increase your child’s ability to follow instructions, create an indoor or outdoor obstacle course, using various objects such as water balloons, sprinklers, spades/buckets, and pool toys. Start off with simple instructions, and then build up the instructions to more complex instructions that the child can follow with success. For example, ”jump over the sprinkler, then do a star jump into the pool”. If the child can complete this 2-step instruction like this, you can start to increase the length and complexity of the instructions by using more descriptive words and steps. This may include having water balloons of different colours and asking the child to “throw the ‘pink’ balloon, then jump over the sprinkler”, hop to the pool, then dive into the water’.


There are many different water-play themed books available, which helps teach concepts to children, and extend the children’s vocabulary. These books are fun and engaging and are a great way to spend time with your child!

There are lots of different ways that you can involve language skills into daily activities during water play. Give one of these ideas a go!

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