10 Easy Ways to Extend Water Play

water play ideas

Most kids love water. Swimming in it, splashing it, stomping in it, playing with it. Being that it is summer here in Perth, we have outdoor water play pretty much everyday. A few inches of water in a tub or her small paddle pool, some plastic containers and a wooden spoon and my little water nymph is as happy as a lark for ages.

Playing with water can be a wonderful tool for laying the ground work for future mathematical and scientific learning, providing children with hands-on experience for;

  • Learning about measurement: which container holds the most/least? which container holds more/less?
  • Experimenting with scientific concepts: which will float/sink and why?
  • Learning new vocabulary: empty and full, shallow and deep, wet and dry
  • Learning how to sort or categorise: these objects all float, these ones sink.

Here are 10 simple ways to enhance the learning potential of water play and extend the fun;

1. Add a big car cleaning sponge for squeezing water into containers as an alternative to pouring.

2. Add dolls or cars, or a tea set and a cloth for washing toys.

3. Add a little dishwashing detergent to create bubbles in the water.

4. Add a bottle with holes punched into it plus a waterwheel and some clear plastic tubing.10 ideas for playing with water

5. Take your child’s cooking play outside – pots and pans, cups and saucers, spoons for stirring.

6. Try water play with natural materials – small stones, seed pods, leaves, small sticks and bark.

7. Choose a range of objects which will float and some which will sink. Notice these properties with your child as she plays with the objects in the water.

8. Recycle butter or margarine containers and add your child’s plastic people or animals for a day of boating on the water.

9. Give your child a bucket of water and a chunky paintbrush for water painting. You will be amazed how much fun toddlers have with this one.

10. Add sand for some seriously fun mud play. Make mudpies and mud cakes or sand castles.

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  1. SquiggleMum says:

    Ooh… loving the holes in the bottle idea. It's often the simple ones that are the most effective.

    Christie you're excellent at demonstrating ways to allow learning to happen naturally through play.

  2. PlanningQueen says:

    We love the buckets and paintbrushes here, but we have never tried the bottles with holes in them. My older kids would love to make the holes themselves. We shall have to try this when it is hot next.

  3. Narelle Nettelbeck says:

    We have water play here most days too. The children love it when I put ice into the water. You can just use ice cubes OR to make it more fun, grab a balloon and fill it about 1/4 with water, add a little food colouring. Tie the balloon and pop in the freezer. When the balloon is frozen, peel off the rubber balloon and you're left with a big ice block. Freeze a few for a variety of colours.

    The children also enjoy it when I set out 2 tubs of coloured water (eg one yellow and one blue) and then let the children mix away!!

    I haven't tried the bottle idea but I have cups in the water play box with holes in the bottom – the children love that so I can't wait to try the bottle!

  4. Teacher Tom says:

    It's the middle of winter here, and we still have water play almost every day. We have a rain barrel that collects rain water from the roof. Lately, the kids have been making mud then using shovels to "catapult" it against the side of the building! They've got it as high as the second story and are strategizing how to get it even higher.

  5. What great ideas! As a day care provider, I don't use a wading pool with the kids–too much risk with all those little bodies and a pool of water–so I'm so glad to see so many great ideas that use smaller quantities or smaller containers. It's winter now, but I'll definitely keep all these ideas for warmer weather! We have had a great time with "painting" with ice cubes on hot pavement, watching it melt and then dry away. I never thought of adding food coloring, but that sounds like fun too!

  6. Great ideas. I'm making notes for Heidi's birthday party next year. The ice treasure hunt was very successful this year, thank you. Added bonus that water play is super easy to clean up after. :)

  7. Honor Bowden says:

    Hey there, your blog rocks! We've been reading for a while now and have been trying out lots of ideas… am super excited about the edible fingerpaint! We're off to try your water ideas now… it's soooo hot here on the Gold Coast too. Roman (1) and Mum. x

  8. Phunkyrockgal says:

    That looks like so much fun! I can't wait for summer again!

  9. I'm going to be a daddy here soon so these are some cool ideas I could use to work with my daughter and help her learn while she's having fun.

    Thanks so much! :)

  10. Michelle says:


    The information is very much standard and presentation of pages is very nice.I like the buckets and holes in the bottle is very nice.

    Michelle Horny,

  11. Fantastic blog!


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