Toddlers can't resist the allure of water. It's why they splash around while washing their hands in the sink, and why they're compelled to dip their fingers into their drinking cups during lunch.
Water tables allow toddlers to let loose and have fun while developing problem solving skills, fine and gross motor skills, creativity, and language. Activities like pouring water from cup to cup serve as building blocks for their future understanding of advanced science concepts such as physics. Likewise, filling bowls with water provides a basic foundation for comprehending math concepts like measurement and volume.
As it pertains to social and emotional development, water exploration can relax and soothe anxious or upset children. It can also facilitate cooperative play with peers.
By incorporating certain add-ins to your water play area, the opportunities for learning and growth are endless! Here are some hacks to help you maximize the many benefits of your classroom water table:
Enhance your classroom water table experience by providing add-ins that will help children develop new skills.
Add scent and color
Boost multi-sensory learning by adding scented oil and a few drops of food coloring that complements the scent. Early Childhood News suggests adding peppermint extract and red food coloring, along with some red items for children to play with. Or, you could add pineapple extract and yellow food coloring and a few yellow props like a plastic pineapple - or even a few chunks of the real fruit.
If you want to instill a sense of calm in your classroom, add lavender oil plus blue and red food coloring to warm water. Have the children swirl the water so that the two colors combine to make purple.
Add bubbles and baby dolls
Both boys and girls can benefit from playing with dolls. As noted by North Shore Pediatric Therapy, dressing and grooming them develops fine motor skills. Rocking them while standing hones toddlers' gross motor skills. Socially and emotionally, caring for dolls can help toddlers develop empathy for others.
Fill the water table with warm water and gentle dish detergent and invite your class to give the dolls a bath. Don't forget washcloths, towels, and hairbrushes!
Add firefighter gear
Best suited for outdoor water play, this activity will encourage creativity as well as motor skills. Offer children various thematic materials such as rain jackets, firefighter hats, rubber boots, garden hoses and buckets. You could also provide waterproof figures for the toddlers to rescue.
As mentioned above, the opportunities for learning really are endless when you incorporate various items into your classroom water table routine.
To learn more about implementing gross and fine motor activities for toddlers in your classroom, and fine tuning social and emotional activities for toddlers, sign up for ProSolutions Training's online early childhood education courses.