Young children love playing with sand and water and find both relaxing.

It cannot be emphasised enough though that when children are playing with water they need to be fully supervised as they can drown even in a small amount of water.

Our aim is to suggest activities and to explain how children can learn from having the chance to play and experiment with sand and water.

Water Play

You can provide opportunities for your child to play with water in the bath, in the kitchen sink, in a washing up bowl or baby’s bath or weather permitting, in a paddling pool. You need to make sure there is no danger of a burn from a hot tap.

This type of play is likely to lead to some mess, but your child should not feel under pressure to keep dry or not make a mess. It is better to try to encourage children to limit the mess and for them to help clear up afterwards.

When playing with water children learn:

  • to improve their skill at pouring by developing their arm and hand muscles
  • how water behaves when you pour it from one container to another
  • how water feels and that it can be squirted
  • objects either float or sink
  • that containers hold the most or least
  • that water leaks from containers with holes
  • hand eye co-ordination

It is not necessary to buy special toys for water play. Here are some suggestions of everyday items which children enjoy playing with and which provide opportunities to explore the properties of water.

Things to Play with in Water

  • collander
  • strainer
  • old teapot
  • toy buckets
  • jugs and containers
  • sponge
  • small watering can
  • funnel
  • whisk
  • hollow ball
  • plastic bottles

Discover Science

Floating and Sinking

Let your child experiment with diffferent objects to see which float or sink.

Here are some suggestions:
Ice cubes, spoons made of metal, plastic or wood, wooden bricks, smooth twigs, a cork, washed polystyrene food trays, a toy boat and paper cake cases.

Situations such as letting your child bath a doll can create opportunities to discuss caring for babies and the need for personal hygiene.

Another activity is washing and drying dolls’ clothes. Not only do children enjoy the imaginative play, but they experience the science involved in cleaning and drying fabrics.

Ask your child to predict what will happen to the wet fabrics. Discussion can extend vocabulary and enhance your child’s communication skills. The activities also help to develop manipulative skills.

Safety Disclaimer

Children should always be supervised by an adult when playing in or with water.