Water play doesn’t have to be chaotic stress for adults. Drawing from my experience as a classroom teacher, I’m sharing the most effective strategies to turn water play into an enjoyable experience for children and adults.
Explore this guide and discover stress-free play, allowing children to experience all the benefits of water play.
Best Tips to Manage Water Play
Choose Play Space
- Take water table outside.
- Place water bin in the bathtub or shower for easier cleanup.
- Turn a bathtub or kiddie pool into immersive water play; no bin needed.
- Do water play at the sink. Offer a stool to stand on.
Tips to Prepare
- Have materials ready before adding water to the water table. This way, you won’t have to leave the activity and children without supervision once water play starts.
- Keep towels available for cleaning up spills and drying children’s hands or faces.
- Provide smocks or old shirts for children to wear.
- Always supervise children during water activities.
- Place towels or rugs down to prevent slipping.
- Wash toys and the water table between uses.
- If adding bubbles, use small amounts of child-safe soap to avoid irritation.
Water Table, Toys, and More
First, you’ll want to choose a water table or sensory bin. The best low-cost option is a plastic storage bin.
Choose plastic bins with shorter sides, making it easier for kids to reach into. Flat storage bins that can slide under beds are great. Using a larger size creates more room so multiple children can play at once.
- Stacking cups
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Watering cans
- Water wheels
- Bath toys
- Strainers or sieves
- Spray bottles
- Squeeze bottles
- Pop tubes
- Food dye or liquid water color
- Baby safe body wash
- Loose parts such as:
- Reusable ice cubes
3 Easy Water Play Activities
#1 Sink or Float Experiment
Introduce children to a simple experiment exploring buoyancy. This activity promotes critical thinking and playfully introduces early science concepts.
- Variety of objects (e.g., bath toys, stones, cups)
Tip: Encourage discussions with open-ended questions like “Why do you think that floats?” This enhances critical thinking and communication skills.
#2 Pretend Play
Transform water play with imaginative play to foster creativity and cooperation. This activity encourages storytelling and collaboration among participants.
- Action figures, animal toys, or people figures
- Cars or boats
- Bowls and lids
Tip: Invite children to play different roles, such as emergency rescuers or ocean explorers.
#3 Nature Water Table
Add nature elements to water for a sensory-rich experience. This activity inspires curiosity and instills an appreciation for nature. Learn more about nature play.
- Natural materials (e.g., leaves, flowers, twigs, stones, nature loose parts)
- Small containers or muffin tin for sorting
Tip: Encourage children to use their senses with questions like “How does this leaf feel?” or “What does the flower smell like?”
Need more ideas? Discover my favorite easy water activities for babies and toddlers.