Ten terrific ways to get the most out of water play

Water play is one of the best ways to invite young children to explore, discover, and learn new skills. To keep water play interesting and constructive, we have gathered ten terrific ways to get the most out of water play…

Ten Terrific Ways to Get the Most out of Water Play by Teach Preschool

Water play Tubs of all sizes and shapes

A water table is always a great piece of equipment to promote water play experiences but it is always a good idea to move water play outside of the water table and into a variety of different sized and shaped containers. Switching up the types of containers that you use to hold water brings new interest in the water play experience. Take our one-inch water play, for example. Both large and small containers can spark new interest in the water play experience…

One Inch Water Play by Teach Preschool

Tools for Water Play

Water, just by itself, can be quite entertaining for young children but adding interesting tools will spark new interest in water play for children of all ages.  Spoons, ladles, colanders, funnels, strainers, cups, bowls, and pitchers are all great tools to have out at the water table. These types of tools invite children to use their imagination for making things like alphabet sensory soup or lid soup

Stirring up alphabet soup by Teach Preschool

Lid Soup by Teach Preschool

Touch and Feel Water Play

Adding materials to the water that children can touch, feel, and strain through the water brings a new dimension of interest into the water play experience. Water beads are one of our favorite additions to water play!  These slippery, squishy little balls are always a favorite with our children.  They are available in a variety of sizes and colors to create a wonderful world of water bead play

Teach Preschool | All about water beads

Colorful Water Play

Adding color to your water creates another layer of interest and gives children the opportunity to explore color mixing and build on their vocabulary of color words and color recognition. Our children love when we add squeeze bottles to the water table for squeezable and colorful water play.  We have also experimented with a colored water play station, featuring jugs of water, cups, and pipettes for children to mix and pour their own colors…

Squeezable colored water play by Teach Preschool

Colored water play by Teach Preschool

Smelly Water Play

Adding fragrance to your water play creates another multi-sensory experience.  We explored our sense of smell with fruity and fragrant tea water play

An Exploration of Smell by Teach Preschool


Sounds of Water Play

Make a water play listening station by adding musical instruments to the water play experience…

Water Xylophone

Or by setting out jars of water for the children to fill up and tap out sounds

Xylophone science from Teach Preschool

Motor Skill Water Play

Build motor skills and concentration by adding some foaming hand soap dispensers to your water tub and your children will be all pumped up for water play

All Pumped up for Water Play by Teach Preschool

Pretend Play with Water Play

A little bit of bubbles along with baby dolls, cars, or dishes invite lots of fun pretend play as the children pretend to wash baby dolls or dishes or run their cars through a car wash…

Washing Babies in the Water Table

Scientific Water Play

Why not bring a little science into your water play by exploring what will sink float?  Or experiment with different materials to create simple boats that float in water. And try a little balloon water science too..

Playing with the boats...

Making boats that float by Teach Preschool

Balloons and water


Nature in Water Play

Adding items from nature to your water play table or tubs always sparks new interest in the water play experience and gives children the opportunity to explore and examine natural materials more closely. We love to examine all kinds of items from nature as you can see here in our Sink or Float: an exploration of nature

Nature Items in the Water Table

A few tips on waterplay

1. Remember to keep towels handy for placing under your watertubs or to soak up water that lands on the floor.

2. Take water play outdoors and indoors and make it available all throughout the year.

3. Give children the freedom to explore water play using their own ideas and imagination.

4. Know the age of your students and gear what you place in the water table to meet their needs, interests, and developmental readiness for play and exploration.

Sponge block water play by Teach Preschool


What children are learning through water play

1. Water play promotes daily living skills such as pouring, scooping, and washing.

2. Water play invites imagination and promotes conversation and communication with each other.

3. Water play builds on concepts in all content areas from math, science, language, story telling, dramatic play, music, and more. Keep water play open ended and yet learn to observe the learning that is taking place through the different materials, tools, and resources you add to your water play experiences.

O is for orange juice water play by Teach Preschool

The benefits of water play

Water play is a wonderful way for young children to express their interests, needs, and feelings. Water play can help young children relax and unwind as it can be a soothing experience for the young child. Although it can seem like work for the adult to have to soak up water from the floor or to change out wet clothing, the benefits for young children are worth all the efforts you make to give young children lots of water play experiences.

Itsy bitsy waterplay by Teach Preschool

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By |2017-04-12T13:08:11+00:00May 18th, 2014|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. andie jaye May 19, 2014 at 12:27 am - Reply

    so many fun ways to play! love the idea of adding scents to the water. what fun it would be to work at your preschool 🙂 so glad that it’s getting warmer here and we can bust out the water table again!

  2. Happy Home Fairy May 20, 2014 at 7:45 am - Reply

    Where did you get the water table in the first photo? 🙂 thanks!

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