Water play provides an excellent opportunity for toddlers to learn about and explore the world around them. It may seem like such a simple thing, after all, they take a bath every night, right? Water play encourages learning and growth in many different ways, and toddlers love it!
The benefits of water play include improving gross and fine motor skills, problem-solving, and developing early math and literacy skills. Toddler’s water play also provides an opportunity for sensory learning and social development skills.
There are so many different benefits of water play for preschoolers and water play for babies and it is easy to set up many different learning experiences for them. From simple bath time activities to allow them to sit on the patio with a bucket of water and a few tools, the possibilities for learning and exploring are endless.
- 1 6 Benefits of Water Play for Toddlers
- 2 What is Water Play?
- 3 Water Play Benefits
- 4 Water Play Ideas for Toddlers
- 5 Best Water Play Tables, Australia
- 6 Best Water Toys, Australia
6 Benefits of Water Play for Toddlers
- Develops fine and gross motor skills.
- Teaches early math and science skills.
- Promotes sensory learning.
- Promotes language development.
- Teaches problem solving skills.
- Encourages social development.
What is Water Play?
Water play is exactly what it sounds like, play that includes water and tools for your toddler to pour, play, and scoop with. The water can be contained in a sand and water table, in the bathtub, or simply a container of water on the floor with some cups to pour it back and forth.
Water Play Benefits
Develops Fine and Gross Motor Skills
One of the benefits of water sensory play for toddlers is the development of fine and gross motor skills. When toddlers scoop and pour water from container to container they are practicing fine motor skills.
When toddlers try to carry water from one place to another, over to the sand table, for example, they are working on their gross motor skills. One of the benefits of water play for babies is their development of motor skills when they try to reach and “hold” water that is being poured in front of them in their tiny hands.
Math and science skills
One of the benefits of water play in early childhood is that it lays a foundation for future math and science exploration. Your toddler will learn concepts like full or empty, and whether items added to the water will sink or swim.
When pouring or scooping water from one container to another they will be learning about volume, and which containers hold more, less, or the same amount of water. There are many different objects that you add to water and sand play to teach these and many more early educational concepts.
Sensory learning is also a benefit of water play for children. Water and sand play are very much hands on activities so they can feel the water and sand move through their fingers, and what it feels like to pat wet sand into moulds or scoop it into a container.
Having your toddler feel the water and sand and be able to manipulate them in different ways motivates them to explore the world around them further. Playing with water and pouring it from one container to another can be a very calming experience for an excited toddler.
There are so many new words to be discovered when setting up water play for kids. Words like volume, capacity, empty, full, and many others can be introduced and discussed during their play.
Another benefit of water play in early childhood and language development is how they play with others and verbalize what they are doing with each other, and themselves. Provide them with some water play toys like sieves, shovels, rakes, spades, and moulds and they will learn even more new vocabulary words.
Problem Solving Skills
Water play for kids allows them to learn in a very hands on concrete way what will happen when you take a specific action. For example, what happens when you put a leaf in the water? Does it sink or does it float?
They also learn what will happen if they overfill a container by pouring a large volume of water into a smaller container. All of these things help them to build their problem solving and creative thinking skills through their play.
Social development is another benefit of water play in early childhood. Water play with others allows children to use their imaginations to make up a variety of scenarios for their play.
During this play toddlers are learning the importance of sharing, creating, and role playing. Sand and water play in early childhood offers many different opportunities for social growth and development that they will continue to build on, all while continuing to play and learn.
Water Play Ideas for Toddlers
- Painting with water
- Washing toys
- Colour mixing
- Float or sink
- Water transfer
- Beach water table
- Washing clothes
Painting with water
Painting with water is a toddler water play activity that you can set up very simply anytime, and anywhere. Simply give them a bucket of water and a paintbrush and allow them to “paint” their surroundings with water. They can paint on tree stumps, or the sidewalk or patio and watch as the “paint” evaporates and disappears as it dries in the sun. You could also allow your toddler to “paint” with a spray bottle filled with water.
Washing toys is a water activity for toddlers that is always a big hit. After all, they see you wash dishes and other things all of the time. All you need for this toddler water play activity is a tub of water and the toys that you would like them to wash. This might be cars for a car wash, baby dolls for a baby wash, or washing toy plates and cups for a dishwashing session.
If you like you can add some tear-free baby shampoo to the water for some additional fun with bubbles. Just make sure it is tear-free soap in case they get it in their eyes when they are splashing and playing. You could also add some towels so that they can practice trying their toys off.
Colour mixing is a simple water activity for toddlers that only requires a bin or cup of water and some food colouring. Let your toddler use an eyedropper to drop a little food colouring into the water and see what happens. Let them swirl the water around and add another colour to the water. Talk about what they think will happen. Will the two colours change the water into another colour?
Float or sink
This water activity for toddlers is very simple to set up and you could even do it in the bathtub or kitchen sink. Put some water in the tub and then provide them with a variety of objects to drop into the water. Talk about whether or not they think the object will sink to the bottom or float on top of the water. Some items to try are rocks, coins, plastic boats, corks, keys, small rubber balls, and crayons.
This simple toddler water play activity may keep them occupied for quite some time. Simply allow them to pour, scoop, drop (with a medicine dropper) or squeeze (with a sponge) water from one container into other containers. Will all of the containers hold the same amount of water? Do some hold more? Which method transfers water faster?
Beach water table
Set your water table up with water and some sand. Give your toddlers some sand moulds, seashells, a sieve, and shovels, and let them pretend that they are having a day at the beach. They can build castles, dig for seashells, explore what happens when you add water to the sand, and what happens when the sand dries out. This water activity for toddlers offers them lots of opportunities to explore.
This toddler water play activity is probably best done outdoors on the patio or in the garden, but it offers lots of sensory and learning fun. Let your toddler “wash” some small clothing items like face cloths or socks in a small tub of water. Offer another tub of plain water for rinsing. Once the clothes are clean, let them hang the clothes with clothespins to a folding dryer rack outside.
Best Water Play Tables, Australia
- Best for: Young toddlers
- Number of pieces: 14
- Ages: 18 months and up
If you are looking for the best sand and water table in Australia for young toddlers then this is the choice for you. This set comes with everything you need except for sand and water for hours of interactive play.
This sand and water table features tight fitting drain plugs so you don’t have to worry about the sand or water leaking out. There is also a very nice tight fitting lid to keep little hands out of the table when you don’t want them in it, and the table has a surface that is suitable for playing with blocks.
- Best for: Those looking for water play only.
- Number of pieces: 7
- Ages: 24 months and up
If you are looking for the best water play table to provide hours of treasure seeking fun then this is the best option for you. Waterfalls, waves, and even a ship wheel to steer there is so much imaginative play to be found here.
This water table has enough room for multiple children to play together at the same time. There are some additional toys that come with this set including a bucket, whale, mermaid, shark and more!
- Best for: Those who want a small water table
- Number of pieces: 9
- Ages: 18 months and up
This small sand and water table is perfect for those with a small garden or patio for outdoor play. The water table may be small but that doesn’t mean that it won’t provide hours of sand and water play fun.
This sand and water table comes with eight additional accessories including a spade, sand shapers, and a watering can for hours of interactive play. All of the accessories will fit inside of the table and there is a tight fitting lid to protect the sand from insects when playtime is over.
Best Water Toys, Australia
- Best for: Bathtime water play
- Number of pieces: 1
- Ages: 3 years and up
Make bathtime a learning sensory experience with one of the best water play toys. Your toddler will love turning the valves and knobs, and pouring water in the spout to see which way it will come out of the pipes.
This is a super fun water play toy that you can use every bathtime. Your toddler will be begging for more as they make the ball float, or have the water spraying out of the spout. This is especially great for smaller bathrooms since it is only one piece that attaches to the tub.
- Best for: Indoor/Outdoor water play
- Number of pieces: 4
- Ages: 10 months and up
The best water toys for kids are those that can be enjoyed at bathtime or in outdoor water play. Your toddler will love scooping these water bugs up in the net and then sending them on their way again.
This water play toy only has four pieces so it makes cleaning up after the fun is done a breeze. Place the waterbugs and net in your kiddie pool outside or the bathtub for some extra sensory play and learning fun.
- Best for: Teaching about chores in a fun way
- Number of pieces: 14
- Ages: 3 years and up
Does your toddler always want to help when it’s time to wash the dishes? Well, now they can in a fun and safe way with this best water toy for toddlers. Featuring a working faucet, small sponge, and plastic plates, cups, and utensils your toddler can practice the art of tidying up.
Your toddler can explore hours of dishwashing fun after they have their tea parties or they cook dinner for their stuffed animal friends. This amazing water toy lets them have fun and teaches them how to wash dishes all at the same time.
Looking for more educational activities for toddlers?! Check out our post on the benefits of sensory play for babies & toddlers next!