playing with water jugs

The Benefits Of Water Play In Early Childhood

The Benefits Of Water Play In Early Childhood– Children love playing with water. Whether it’s in the bathtub at home, at the beach, pool, or in an early childhood setting. Kids just love water play! It is a fun, soothing sensory activity that will provide them with lots of entertainment. In addition to this, the good news is that water play also has many learning and development benefits too.

What is Water Play?

The simple definition of water play is just playing with water using a variety of tools such as buckets, funnels, waterwheels, and pumps to name a few. In early childhood settings, you can usually find large troughs especially used for water play. They are usually big enough so that many children can stand around scooping, splashing, and pouring.

The Benefits Of Water Play In Early Childhood

Just like sand, water is another natural resource that is great for purposeful play.  Furthermore, just like sandpit play, water play also has many important educational benefits. Some of these are

  • Develop Motor Skills
  • Develop Social Skills
  • Language Development
  • Builds creativity and Imagination
  • Promotes Cognitive Development

Develop Motor Skills

Water play involves lots of scooping, pouring, squeezing, and filling. These actions are very beneficial for the development of hand and eye coordination as well as for refining fine motor skills.

Children will give their large muscles a great workout when they play with water in pools, at the beach or when running through a sprinkler.

child running through sprinkler for benefits of water play in early childhood

Develop Social Skills

When children play with water around a water trough they will usually be chatting to their friends, taking turns, or negotiating with their peers.

Water play is a great opportunity for kids to interact with each other and work together. During water play, you will often observe kids helping each other to achieve a common goal. For example, lifting a heavy bucket of water and pouring it over a water wheel is hard work. There is a lot of coordination and strength needed for this simple activity. Children soon learn that activities such as this are better achieved when one does the pouring and the other holds the water wheel in place. Great teamwork practice!

Language Development

Water play encourages kids to use definitive words that are used for complex concepts. For example, sinking and floating. The tools used in water play such as funnels and sieves are also probably words that children wouldn’t normally come across at an early age.

Children love to chat with their friends, parents, or carers while they are playing. So you could look for opportunities to ask your child intentional questions that will prompt them to think, verbalise what they are doing and predict what may happen next during their play.

Water play is just so much more than a fun activity. It also provides so many valuable opportunities to enrich and extend children’s thinking and vocabulary.

Learn About Maths and Science

Water play is perfect for introducing children to many science and maths concepts. Children can learn about things like capacity, volume and motion. They can also be introduced to terms such as full/empty, more/less, shallow/deep.

Water play can also encourage the development of scientific enquiry because it fosters children’s curiosity. It will stimulate their thinking prompting them to ask questions such as “What will happen if ?”

children playing with water for benefits of water play in early childhood

Stimulates Creativity and Imagination

Water play is a perfect activity that will build a child’s creativity depending on what toys or tools they have to play with. Water play doesn’t need to be limited to buckets, cups, and waterwheels. There are so many other fun things that you can use. As parents and carers, you really are only limited by your imagination in what you provide for your kids.

washing dolls for benefits of water play in early childhood

Equipment, Tools, and Ideas For Water Play

Water play is such a wonderful open-ended activity with so many amazing learning benefits that kids will enjoy. Here are some ideas and suggestions for things you could provide for your children the next time they enjoy some fun and refreshing water play!

  • Children love to care for dolls and babies during pretend play. Why not add some of these along with some tubs, washcloths, and soap. You could also give them some towels too so they can dry their babies. Think of all the fun imaginary play your kids will have with this favourite activity.
  • Go ahead and add things like small plastic fish or frogs to the water trough or tub you may have at home. Then give your children some safe tongs for them to “fish” with. This is a perfect activity for strengthening their fine motor skills.
  • If you add trucks and cars along with a good splash of mild detergent you will have an instant carwash!
  • Dinosaurs and other plastic animals are also great for washing. If you give children sponges too then this will add further opportunities for them to work the muscles in their hands.
  • Bubbles are always such a firm favourite. If you add a good amount of detergent and glycerine you will get the best bubbles ever. What’s better than normal bubbles? Well, I would definitely say giant bubbles! If you add some hoops then this is exactly what you will get along with guaranteed hours of fun, squeals, and excitement.
  • Adding food colouring to the water is another great idea. Then if you provide different sizes of cups and containers along with other measuring equipment you will have busy scientists at work.

The benefits of water play in early childhood are so extensive. It is such a simple and fun activity that children enjoy at preschool and early learning centres. But it doesn’t only need to happen there. Water play is something that could just as easily be done at home in a safe and supervised environment.




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