Mary is at the water table, pouring water back and forth between two containers. She watches as the water overflows and runs down the side of one jar. She feels the cool liquid against her skin and listens to the sounds of the water as it moves. She observes the containers that float and those that sink, and she tries to get one of the heavier tubs to float. Mary is exploring, discovering, and testing objects in the water.
Children, and adults as well, are naturally drawn to water. Water is comforting and soothing. The feel and sounds are pleasing. The natural attraction makes the water table a perfect activity center for a preschool classroom.
Just think of all the learning that goes on! Children experiment with cause and effect, refine problem-solving skills, and learn basic math concepts such as volume, measuring, and comparing.
As your child takes a bath, encourage water play by adding different size containers to fill and empty or different household objects that will float or sink. Colanders and other objects with holes are sure to create some intriguing challenges. As your child and you explore the materials, talk about your discoveries together. Guide and extend the learning by adding questions such as “What would happen if ________?”
“How does the water feel?” “Why do you think that happened?”
More opportunities for home water play include watering plants, adding water to the sandbox, blowing bubbles through a variety of frames, and freezing or melting water.
Family Friendly Communication for Early Childhood Programs
National Education for the Education of Young Children
Deborah Diffily and Kathy Morrison, editors; 1996; pg. 24.