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Water Play - Benefits, Ideas and Toys

Water Play - Benefits, Ideas and Toys

Playing with water can be very calming and regulating and it also brings lots of fun and exciting play wherever you are. It provides many benefits through play and exploration and it is an enjoyable activity for all ages, interests and needs. You can add lots of different tools to make it different and exciting each time.


  • Fine motor skills – When kids interact with water they squeeze, grab, splash, push or pull, carry, pour… and this builds their hand muscle’s strength and helps them control their actions so they can become more independent in other areas like dressing up, writing, etc.
  • Gross motor skills – Children will use their body to engage with water. Movements like lifting arms, throwing things and watching water fall will improve their coordination too.
  • Self-regulation – self-regulation is the way we manage our emotions, reactions and behaviours in front of uncomfortable situations. Playing with water is a sensory activity that will help the child focus on the water, the movement, the physical touch of the water on the skin… and calm down from big feelings and overwhelming situations.
  • Communication – Kids will express feelings and emotions through play (big splash if they are excited, narrate what they do, make sounds as they play, etc.) so it is a verbal and non-verbal communication which means kids don’t need to use words to express how they feel or what they do if they can’t or don’t want to.
  • Science – Learning what objects sink or float, exploring how different materials react to water ( a sponge will absorve it, plastic will repel it, some wood will soak and then dry out…) will promote curiosity and help children understand how the world works.
  • Open ended resource (and free) – water is suitable from birth up to all ages. It is something all kids enjoy at any age. It doesn’t have a specific purpose (like a puzzle for example), it is just there and each child will interact with it in a different way depending on his interests and skills. Perfect for children of different ages to play together.



  • Start with just water. Add items as they play so it is not overwhelming and easy for them to figure out what to do. Do not tell them what to do, let them think and problem solve.
  • Add fine motor tools like spoons, scoopers, droppers, syringes, sponges, etc. so they can use them to grab the water while practicing fine motor skills.
  • Add containers in different sizes, colours and shapes. They can use their hands or the fine motor tools to transfer water into the containers.


  • Add small figures and play fishing games. Those figures can be fished with a stick and a string with a hook, or with any of the fine motor tools and taken out of the water or placed into the different bowls (randomly or sorting colours or sizes or shapes).
  • Mix water with food colouring OR paint on different containers so they can use droppers or spoons to mix it together and see how colours transform.

  • Add foam (soap foam or shaving foam) at the top of a container full of water and splash coloured water in. Watch the coloured water go through the foam and form clouds inside the water.



fishing nets  messy play container




(click on the image)

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