No toy that we buy for a child is as adaptable and universal as water. Nothing else supports such diverse play for so many children as water play.
From the time they are tiny infants, kids play in water. Splashes in the bath for babies become splashes in toddler pools and on up to splashes in lakes and oceans for older kids to adults. A simple water play activity is to run some water in a sink or big bowl and set out a few plastic cups, scoops, bottles, spoons, or sponges. Kids love to fill things and pour out the water. They push objects down and watch them pop up. They watch water drip or spurt from a sieve, strainer, or other item with holes. A straw gives kids the opportunity to blow lots of bubbles.
When kids seem interested, they can test items to see if they will float or sink. Will a toy float? How about an empty bottle? Little Sister discovered a toothbrush floats. Unfortunately, the water wasn’t in the sink or tub but in the toilet. Pirates and young scientists like to make boats that float.
Water mixed with colored powder makes paint. Or, kids can paint with plain water. To paint paper with clear water, the paper needs to be colored. The water soon dries from a driveway or fence. In the winter, painting snow is amazing. Fill a spray bottle with water and add a few drops of food coloring.
Combined with soap, kids like to wash their toys, give dolls a bath, and blow bubbles. Dirt and water make mud for more play opportunities. Putting water in the freezer to make ice gives more possibilities for play, like freezing a toy in ice and digging it out with spoons and fingers.
Water play stimulates the senses, yet at the same time, it also relaxes. Playing in water can calm an anxious or over-tired child. Water sports are yet another way to play. For a play-of-the-day, how about some water play?