Most children love to play with water. They will play while taking their bath in the tub, or with water glasses, they find at the dinner table. Water play is a fun flow activity where children learn how to focus on their self-chosen activity and make small and big decisions as they follow their course of action. Children will also learn how to pour, weigh, estimate, measure, and carry water. They will observe the great variety of patterns of how water flows, meanders, splashes, runs, and spreads. You can support your child’s natural drive for learning about water by preparing a water play station for them.
A water play station can be indoors in the bathroom or, ideally, in a shaded spot outdoors. If you offer an indoor water station, be sure you set children up for success by ensuring they can’t accidentally ruin the area by spilling water where you don’t want it to go. A simple station may include one or two low buckets on the floor with containers of various shapes and sizes for filling, emptying, and pouring back and forth.
You might add containers with water tinted with natural food coloring, so your child can mix colors, provide various items to experiment with, and see what sinks and floats, such as bottle caps, leaves, and paper rolls. Your child might also craft paper boats for a bucket lake. For older children, add measuring containers (US and metric) and tools such as pipettes, funnels, tubes, and waterwheels.
If you have space, you could also invest in a specially made water play table that can be used for water and sand play. In the video below you see a “professional” water play station from the marvelous Kindergarten Schpumpernudl, in Austria. Children focus on their own activity for hours at the time and emerge happily and refreshed with lots of stories to share about their adventures at the water table.