Kids of all ages love sensory play, and what better sensory play idea than having fun with water?! Get splashing with these brilliant water play ideas that will have your kids squealing for joy!
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Creative Ideas for Water Play
1. Snowflake Soup
If you are looking for a fun activity indoors, why not create a themed sensory ‘soup’, like this snowflake soup from Learning and Exploring Through Play?
You can create endless ‘soups’, whether you choose to link it to a time of year, a celebration, or your child’s interest – they are a fun hands-on learning experience. Examples include a winter themed sensory soup or a Valentine’s sensory soup.
2. Exploring Mirror Reflections in Water
An interesting investigation no matter what time of year, whether you use the mirrors to look at your own reflections or add your toys or some nature items. This activity from My Nearest and Dearest makes a fun science activity for even the youngest of children.
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3. Portable, Waterproof DIY Light Box
I have seen these IKEA storage boxes a few times and always considered them great containers, particularly for Arts and Crafts. I love the twist on this activity from Play-Trains, using them as portable light boxes that can be used in water! This would be such great fun in the bath or exploring water in the dark.
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4. Night Sky Sensory Bag
Have you got round to creating sensory bags yet? If you have a child who doesn’t like getting their hands messy these bags can be a stepping stone to sensory play. Under supervision they are also great for babies.
5. Investigating Water with Toddlers
Here is a fun water sensory activity from Learn With Play at Home, that is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. I love how the little one is encouraged to learn about the different concepts, from pouring to transferring, to catching spills and squeezing sponges, this really is water play at it’s best!
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6. Sink or Float?
Whether you are going on a nature walk or simply enjoying fun in the garden, round up some items from bricks to flowers and leaves to rocks, then set up a water experiment station like Laughing Kids Learn. Will the items sink or float? Make your predictions and then ‘splash’ to find out what happens.
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7. Calm Down Sensory Jars
The idea of calm down sensory jars is you shake the bottle and your child watches the glitter/sequins swirling around. It’s during this time the bottle acts as a distraction, a cool down time. Once the contents have settled, cool down time is over.
An interesting behaviour strategy, especially for younger children. Why not add some small toys they like, to help engage them such as LEGO bricks, plastic characters, etc? The Train Driver’s Wife used a whole rainbow, which looks fantastic!
8. Sensory Bottles
Like all sensory play, sensory bottles are a really useful tool for promoting a sense of wonder and encouraging children to use their senses to explore and discover. They can also help with the development of fine motor skills when children are involved in making the bottles, and language and social skills when shared.
They also make a great craft activity and are simple to make. The best bit is that the overall purpose of a sensory bottle is entirely open to your child to determine. They can explore textures, colours and contents by shaking, rolling and up-ending the bottle. Or, alternatively, use it to calm down and as a meditation tool. How cool is that?!
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9. Tide Pools
Tide pools are a fun way to teach children about the high tides and low tides. We have all had fun exploring rock pools when we visit the beach and we often find various sea life that are trapped in these pools until the tide rises again.
During this fun visual science experiment from Buggy and Buddy, children are able to see what happens to the sea life and the consequences of the high and low tides. Once the experiment is over you are left with a sea life sensory bin to explore.
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10. Tornado Tubes
Explore the force of a vortex with tornado tubes, in this fun visual experiment from Mama Smiles for children of all ages from toddlers up.
I love the ‘spin’ on this activity and how they added glitter to make the ‘tornado’ stand out more.
11. Homemade Water Wall
If you are looking to create a fun addition to your outdoor spaces, a water wall will give you just that. We created this in the spring (without using any nails or screws either!), and it was played with all summer long.
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12. Pond Hunt
We’re going on a Pond Hunt! Children love making things, so they will no doubt love creating their own instruments to use down at the pond like they did during this activity from Joys on the Journey. This is a day they wont be forgetting any time soon I bet!
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13. Water Play for Baby
This very simple set up from Pink Oatmeal for baby water play uses supplies from around the home to create a fun sensory activity for tummy time.
14. Year-Round Ice Fun
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15. Water Fountain Fun
What fun this homemade water fountain is! Children will really enjoy experimenting with water and watching as it rushes out of the straw!
Learn With Play at Home gives lots of ideas about how to extend and simplify this activity according to your child’s age and ability.
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16. Fishing for Numbers
Is your child currently learning number recognition? Or are they working on addition, subtraction, multiplication or division? Whatever their current learning goals, this fishing for numbers activity from Buggy and Buddy allows opportunity to explore all of these mathematical concepts. It’s a fun homemade game that provides active learning.
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17. DIY Water Table
Here Adventures in a Box shares exactly how you can create your very own water table for lots of at-home sensory play.
18. Pond Sensory Sink
Outdoor water play is just the best in the warm weather, however here is a great alternative if the weather is not so warm outside! A themed sensory sink, in this case a pond sensory sink from My Nearest and Dearest.
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These ideas from One Time Through for sponge water play couldn’t be easier or more fun! Toddlers and preschoolers just love dunking their sponges into the water and squeezing them out, watching the water make marks on the floor or splosh back into a bucket.
If you have older children, why not get creative and make your own sponge pirate ships?
20. Water Beads
Have you explored water beads? They start out as tiny hard dark beads, and then absorb water to become translucent marble-sized balls. You can play with them in water, or on their own. They are wet, and yet solid. They are slippery and squishy and feel absolutely amazing to touch.
They are such a fun sensory activity, and Danya Banya gives some great ideas on how to play.
21. Sort a Rainbow
Is your child busy learning their colours? Do they enjoy sorting? This rainbow sorting water bead activity from A Little Pinch of Perfect is another great hands-on activity that also develops fine motor skills and hand eye co-ordination.
22. Mess-Free Painting
Painting with water is great mark-making fun and the canvas’ outdoors are endless. Get dipping the paintbrushes and get creative!
Not only can you use paintbrushes, but you could also have a go at using stamps like How Wee Learn did, using letter stamps.
23. Bottle Cap Fine Motor Play
Are you looking for a low prep activity that is sure to be a boredom buster? Fantastic Fun and Learning’s idea for bottle cap play is a great one and helps to develop fine motor skills!
24. Bubble Bar
Who doesn’t totally love fun with bubbles? Nothing if Not Intentional shares with us lots of bubble fun they have been having including an impressive ‘bubble snake’.
25. Sensory Magnet Water Play
Looking for a bright and beautiful polka dot water play activity? Why not look at exploring some magnets in water using magnetic wands? This fun sensory bin from And Next Comes L explores cause and effect.
26. Marble Run Water Play
I just love all the photographs in this post from Inner Child Fun – the colours are so vibrant! Marble runs are not only great with marbles and water beads, they are also great for water play!
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27. Walking Water
This activity from Parenting Chaos is pretty awesome! A beautiful rainbow experiment, creating colours through walking water. Using some simple tools your little ones will look on in amazement as new colours are created before their very eyes!
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