Water Play: Developmental Ways to Beat the Heat
Here in Arizona it can be easy to feel trapped inside, especially when our low temperatures rival the high temperatures elsewhere. But there is a great way to play outside (or inside) and stay cool: WATER PLAY!!! A bath tub, a sink full of water, a pool, a hose, a bucket of water, the sprinklers, or even just a squirt bottle can do the trick.
Water has many benefits beyond hydrating our bodies and helping us stay cool; water is a great developmental tool. Water play encourages eye/hand coordination through squeezing, sifting, pouring, dumping, splashing, painting, mixing, squirting, and squeezing. Water play can help with the development of the palmar arches (the arches of our hands), wrist rotation, pinch strength, grip strength, and pre-scissor skills, just to name a few. There are also many gross motor skills that are strengthened through dodging a water balloon, hopping over a sprinkler, maneuvering under a stream of water from the hose, or moving with resistance in the pool. And if those weren’t enough good reasons to break out the water play, with water children gain more sensory experience as they feel different temperatures, textures, colors, and scents.
Water is a great tool, it can erase chalk, help teach us cause and effect, provide tactile input to our bodies, change color, and it can provide much enjoyment for many of our kiddos.
So, either indoors or outdoors, toss a few sponges, ice cubes, colors, tongs, turkey basters, colanders, brushes, or straws in your next bath, pool, or water table time. And remember, it can be as small and simple as a sink full of water and a spoon.
Below is a list of water games/ideas and links to even more water play ideas! Get out there and get wet!
Remember, children should always be supervised around or in water. Be safe and have fun!
Here are some fun games you can play with your kids
1.) Duck, Duck, SPONGE (a new twist on a classic game). Played the same as duck, duck goose, but the child “goosing” carries a wet sponge and rings it out over the “goose” he/she chooses. This allows more turn taking, hand strengthening, sensory input, running/walking, sequencing challenges and much more.
2.) Water balloons!!! We all know what these are. Water balloons have a endless possibilities. For older children with some dexterity, tying water balloons can provide a high level in-hand manipulation and coordination exercise. Or for an educational twist, write the alphabet, numbers, or sight words on the cinder block wall, the cement or the asphalt and have the kids hit letters in order to spell a word, hit the letter that is called out, or even just practice throwing at a target. Then there is the simple, yet important, throwing and catching. Many of our fine motor skills rely upon our gross motor strength and coordination to provide proximal stability to allow for distal mobility.
3.) Sponge play. Grab a few extra sponges at the dollar store, all different sizes, or take a few and cut them up. Toss them in the bath, the pool or just under the hose and let your kids have a water fight. Or set up two buckets and create a relay race where they have to transfer the water from one bucket to the next with only, you guessed it, A SPONGE!, .
4.) Indoor/outdoor. Fill a bucket or tub up with ice and a bucket of salt water. Have turkey basters, syringes, ink droppers and other objects that require them to pinch, squeeze, or control the flow of the water. Then let them melt the ice with the salt water.
5.) Colorful pre-scissor skills: Have a bowl of water with ice or colored ice in it. Place tongs in the water and have them see if they can remove the ice using the tongs.
6.) Your little artists: Let your kids paint the windows with water. Grab a bucket of water and paint brushes and let them go to town!
7.) Squirt bottles themselves can be fun, but for an increased challenge, have your kids fill up the water balloons using a squirt bottle (great for hand strengthening and pre-scissor skills).
If you want more ideas ask your OT or visit one of the sites below for more ideas!
Allison Heitzinger, M.S., OTR/L