Summer is here! It’s hot! But, that’s okay for preschoolers because they LOVE playing with water. Sprinklers, water balloons, water blasters, water parks, kiddie pools and the beach. I remember when my kids were little we set up the sprinkler under our trampoline for cool bouncing on hot summer days.
However you enjoy water together there will be opportunities to explore, engage in turn-taking, expand vocabulary and talk about concepts related to water.
It is my personal belief that so long as your child is safe and not causing any damage, let them play with water however they want. What is particularly nice about water play during summer is that it takes place outside! This means no mess and minimal clean up.
One of my favourite water games to play with preschoolers is Sink or Float. You can use it to provide your child with new information and help them think about the world and how things work. This game is also well suited to play with multiple children as it is easy to take turns.
To play you need a large bin filled with water, some random small toys and objects, and a bowl to put your objects in. I like to gather both indoor and outdoor objects. Walk around the yard hand-in-hand choosing small items such as leaves, moss, grass, sticks and flowers. Next, take one object at a time and ask your child to guess if it will Sink or Float in the water. Then place the object on the water’s surface and watch what happens together.
Kids go crazy for this! They love guessing and witnessing the results.
When playing Sink or Float, get down on your child’s level so you are eye-to-eye. Give them opportunities to comment on what they have observed. Ask questions and wait for their answers. Stimulate your child’s language by modelling these water-related conceptual words:
“wet – dry, light – heavy, under – on top, deep – shallow, slow – fast”
To help your child understand a new vocabulary word use it at least a few times during play, and then use it again later in other contexts outside of water play.
When Sink or Float gets old there are many other ways to play with water together in the summer. Water the garden, run through the sprinkler, use water and a sponge to “clean” things outside, or pretend to be Karate Kid using water and a paintbrush to “paint” the fence. Whatever activity you choose, remember to follow your child’s interest, model water-related vocabulary, give them opportunities to take turns and respond to their words.