At home or out in nature, water play is educational and entertaining year round. Water play activities:
- Offer a fun way to explore the senses
- Provide children with hands-on learning in the areas of science and math
- Develop fine and gross motor skills
- Give adults an opportunity to offer new vocabulary
- Get kids interacting with each other
- Encourage creativity
Below I’ve collected 20 water play activity ideas for toddlers and up. Grab a towel and have fun exploring them with your little one!
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20 Water Play Activities
Car Splash. Use a piece of wood or large plastic container lid to make a ramp for launching cars into a water table or small pool.
Water Painting. All you need is some old paintbrushes and a bucket of water. Kids can paint the sidewalk, fence, house, toys, trees – whatever they can find! It’s especially exciting to watch the paintings fade away in the sun.
Water Wheels. This is a fun one for a water table or kiddie pool. Add cups, pitchers, funnels and even turkey basters to the mix for extra fun.
Water Wall. Here’s a great idea from Let the Children Play. You can make your own water wall using recycled plastic containers. Use a bucket under the wall to catch and reuse the water.
Colored Water. Add a few drops of food coloring to the water table. Perhaps a blue tint for the ocean animals? Older children can experiment with color mixing.
Sink or Float. This is a great game in a water table or out in nature. Invite kids to predict whether an item will sink or float and then test their hypothesis. Older children may be interested in building a raft or boat out of natural materials at hand.
Rain Gutter Water Ways. Explore gravity with this idea from A Childhood List. All you need is a couple of clean rain gutters and buckets.
Giant Ice Cube. Keep kids busy and cool exploring the properties of ice with this idea from Jennifer Perkins. Simply freeze some plastic animals into a huge ice cube and enjoy!
Sensory Soup. Develop fine motor skills and engage the senses by cutting up fresh herbs for sensory soup (from Happy Hooligans).
Puddle Stomping. Whether you get warm summer rains or cool winter storms, puddles are water play at its best! Stomp, float leaves, drop in rocks… use your imagination!
Mud Pies. Find a space to set up a mud pie picnic!
Measurement and Volume. Encourage children to explore volume and measurement by adding measuring cups, spoons and pitchers to the water table.
Spray Bottle Fun. Kids love to spray plants, the sidewalk, themselves and each other on a hot day! Be careful of removable tips on the bottles which may be a choking hazard for younger children.
Clean up Time. It’s amazing how clean up can be fun when it’s not a requirement! Gather sponges, scrubbers and spray bottles and get cleaning (from Mess for Less).
Listen to the Rain. Stand under an umbrella and just listen.
Alphabet Fishing. Support your child’s budding literacy and motor development by setting up an alphabet fishing activity. Write letters on ping pong balls, toss them in the water table and hand over a fishing net (from Imagination Tree).
Indoor Water Play. Cold outside? Bring water play indoors! Put towels on the floor and set up a big bowl or two. Add some warm water and a few toys or kitchen items for a fun and calming indoor activity.
Rain Painting. Take a wet painting outside in light rain or mist and see the effect of the drops.
Toothbrushing Practice. Encourage dental hygiene and have fun with water indoors! This idea from Teach Preschool uses toothbrushes, toothpaste, water, and plastic egg carton “teeth.”
Baby Bath Station. Try this easy idea from Happy Hooligans. Provide plastic baby dolls, washcloths, sponges, soap, and tubs of water. It’s tons of fun with the added bonus of squeaky-clean baby dolls at the end.