I am so excited to introduce you to Christina from What Does Mama Say! She has wonderful content geared toward younger kids and has agreed to share some water activities for preschoolers. What I love most about this post is there are ideas for inside and outside.
In our house, warm weather means one thing: water play. My little preschooler loves everything to do with water and activities involving getting wet or splashing about will keep him busy for a long time. A win for mommy who gets a breather and a win for the little man who not only has so much fun but also gets to develop some really important skills.
Another plus to water activities is that (most) are not difficult or time-consuming to set up. All you need is a bowl or any sort of container full of water and, depending on the theme, different accessories like food coloring, spoons, eyedropper, rocks, or various toys that you have in the house.
It is true that when playing with water things can get pretty wet, so have the mop and bucket standing by. However, there are a few things that you can do to minimize the mess like setting up this type of activity outside, placing some big towels under the water table, limiting the quantity of water the kids play with. If outdoors is not an option, try the bathtub or choose a place that is easy to clean up like the kitchen or bathroom floor.
Even though the surrounding may get wet from too much excitement, water activities are certainly always a hit with children and well worth setting up.
Water Activities for Preschoolers
As I mentioned above, water play has so many benefits. When setting up water activities for your child, you help them
- refine their fine and gross motor skills
- Develop their communication and social skills
- Improve their problem-solving skills
- Learn about Science and Mathematics
- Develop their creativity and imagination
- Release energy
Considering how many benefits water play has on young children it is no surprise that it is one of the most popular activities out there.
So, if you are looking for some simple but fun water activities for preschoolers, here are 11 fantastic ideas that will surely keep your little one entertained for a long time.
I have divided the activities into three categories: water play ideas for early years (where you will find simply fun games for young kids, although even fun games will teach them loads of things), water lessons activities (here you will get more “academic” water activities for preschoolers where learning has a clear goal and it is directed by you) and indoor activities (because playing with water outside is not always an option).
Water Play Ideas for Early Years
Let’s jump right in on this round-up of water activities for preschoolers with what may end up being your child’s most requested activity.
Water Balloon Fight: this will get messy so it’s definitely an outside activity. The set-up for this activity takes just a few minutes and the whole family can join in the fun.
Get some balloons and fill them with water. If there are more players, either divide them into two teams or it’s each person on his own. The aim of the game is to hit the members of the opposing team with the water balloons.
We played this last summer and there was so much laughter that our tummies hurt. Honestly, it was so much fun!
Move Water with a Sponge: this is a great, fun activity that will make use of the child’s fine and gross motor skills, as well as strengthen the grip.
Have two buckets ready, fill one of them with water and place them some distance away from each other. If there are two players, have four buckets, so basically, two buckets per player.
The aim of the game is to move the water from bucket A into bucket B using a sponge. The player who does that first is the winner. If there is only one player, you can set a timer.
Sailboats race: another fun game involving water is to set up a sailboat race. Now, before you start playing, you will need to build some simple, rudimentary sailboats. If you need some inspiration for this, here is an idea of how to make them.
You will also need either an inflatable kiddie pool or a bigger bowl of water (when I was a kid I used to play this game in puddles, hehe) and a straw.
The players will have to use the straws to blow the sailboats from the place designated as “Start” all the way to the Finish line.
Even if it’s one child playing, it’s still a fun activity to try to blow the sailboat to a designated place. An idea to make things more interesting is to place some obstacles in the water or even make a kind of maze that the boat will have to avoid.
Water Lesson Activities
We all know that learning takes place during play but why not turn water activities for preschoolers into science experiments? Check out these fun water lesson activities!
Sink or float: a sink or float experiment is the perfect opportunity to explain to kids about density, molecules and buoyancy.
Get a bowl of water and gather different objects from around the house like a coin, a spoon, ice, a marble, play-doh etc. Anything works for this experiment.
Have the child guess whether the object will sink or float before he puts it in the water. Start the discussion about density and molecules based on what happens to the object. It would be a good idea to have some visual representation of molecules to help with the explanation.
Making music with water: this super simple experiment will give you the chance to talk about the science of sound with your little one(s).
Have 4-5 matching glasses, water and a spoon or a chopstick (anything that you can use to tap the glasses. Fill the glasses with different amounts of water and let the fun begin.
Use the spoon to gently tap each glass and ask the child if there’s anything different about the glasses. It’s always interesting to see what answers they come up with.
After you have established that the glass with the most water makes the lowest sound and the one with the least amount of water the highest sound, explain to the child about sound waves and the fact that the more water in the glass means that the sound waves travel slower, resulting in the low sound.
Depending on the age of the child you can keep the explanation simple or go into more detail.
Soluble or insoluble– another fascinating experiment involving water is to see which solids dissolve in water.
Explain that when you put something solid in the water and it disappears, that means it dissolved. It hasn’t disappeared but it has mixed with the water and formed a liquid called a substance. Some solids dissolve in water and are called soluble while others don’t and are called insoluble.
Of course, if your child is older you can go deeper with the explanation and talk about molecules.
Some solids that you can use are sugar, salt, flour, sand, sprinkles, coffee, oats etc.
Have the child predict whether the solid is soluble or insoluble before putting it in the water.
Experimenting with ice: a great opportunity for kids to see how water transforms is to make some ice. Simply put a container with water in the freezer (you can also put some small toys in the container- in our case, we put some small dinosaur figurines), leave it in there for a few hours and voila, you have ice.
Now, you can try to turn the ice back into water by either leaving it outside for a while or putting salt on it or warm water.
For more easy science experiments check out “How to Raise a Caterpillar into a Butterfly” and “8 Simple Fall Experiments for Kids of All Ages”.
Indoor Water Activities for Preschoolers
Why wait until summer to have water fun? These indoor water activities for preschoolers will keep your kiddos entertained and learning. They are also a great way to break up the week if you get into a boring rut.
Surprise Bubble Bath: since the cold weather doesn’t allow us to splash in the pool, we make full use of the bathtub in the house.
Although most of the time I just fill up the tub with water and my son just takes his favourite toys in there, once in a while I like to do something special.
I fill up the tub and put a few bubble pods in there. The more bubbles, the better.
If you want to go one step further, buy some coloured bubbles.
After this, I simply throw in some toys in there that my son can discover. These can be new toys which of course will add to the thrill or toys that you have around the house or a combination of the two.
Scoop, pour, transfer: by manipulating materials like spoons, tweezers, cups, tongs, children improve their fine motor skills, hand control and hand-eye coordination.
The first step is to fill up two bowls of water. Put objects like cereal, bottle caps, pom poms, beads etc. in one of the bowls. Have the child move the objects from one bowl to another by using different utensils like the ones I mentioned above.
Wash the dishes or food: kids love imitating adults and feeling useful. You can give them the chance to help by allowing them to wash the dishes ( their plastic cups, cutlery and plates, nothing made of glass that could break). Guaranteed that they will have a blast with the water and the dish soap bubbles.
Washing fruit and vegetable is another way in which children can do something useful while having fun.
Make a sensory jar/bottle: a great idea for indoor water play for preschoolers is to make a sensory jar or bottle. You have total freedom when it comes to what goes in the jar which is why it is so fun and exciting.
Have a clear bottle or jar (I’d use a plastic one for safety reasons) and fill it about ¾ with water. Then you can add sprinkles, glitter, pom poms, beads, really anything that fits in the bottle and looks nice.
To make it even more interesting, you can add food coloring and some oil to make the objects inside move slower.
After the bottle is full, put the lid on and squeeze it tight.
Water involves three of the eight sensory categories, visual, auditory and tactile, it often has a calming effect, it is fun not to mention that while playing with water they get to practice so many important skills.
Thus, considering how many benefits water play has on children it would be a shame to limit the kids’ contact with water.
Hopefully, these water activities for preschoolers will provide inspiration for countless moments of fun for your little ones.
Cristina is the co-founder of the educational blog What Does Mamma Say, a mom of a handsome, smart, kind preschooler and an adorable baby girl. Together with her long-time friend, Monica, Cristina loves sharing her motherhood experiences as well as her expertise as an experienced teacher.
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