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Water games for kids are fun and offer a great learning experience. Read on to know from expert Mina Dilip, how you can turn simple water activities for kids into learning opportunities
Playing with water can be a wonderfully stimulating sensory experience for 1 to 5-year-old children. Water play for toddlers not only lets your little one release her pent up energy but also helps her enhance her motor skills. Besides, through water play for preschoolers, you can help your child learn a few valuable science concepts too.
If you are looking for some simple, yet developmentally significant water games for kids, read on. This article lists several water activities for kids, grouped together under various headings whose first letters form the acronym 'WATER GAMES'.
Water balloons can be great fun. But, if your toddler or preschooler is playing with water balloons, be around to supervise and keep her safe. Here are two water balloon activities for which all you need are a bunch of balloons and flowing tap water. To minimise the mess and simplify clean-up, you can do these activities outdoors.
How this helps: Both these games help in developing focus and coordination as your child takes aim and hits either stationary or moving targets. In dodge balloon, avoiding being hit by the incoming water balloon through body movements teaches body awareness and enhances spatial orientation. A highly kinesthetic game, dodge balloon also helps your child release large amounts of energy while playing the game and calm down later.
Using water instead of paint, either indoors or outside, is a highly effective, yet inexpensive and fun way to enhance your growing child's motor skills.
How this helps: Water painting with newspaper helps with fine motor coordination and development of finger dexterity as your child manipulates a small brush using minute strokes. Learning to describe the patterns encourages the development of language skills. Working with a large brush or roller outdoors helps your child gain mastery over gross motor skills and acts as an introduction to science concepts like evaporation.
Bubbles never go out of vogue!
How this helps: Watching your child blow bubbles is a tangible way to assess whether he is able to breathe deeply and regulate his breathing. For instance, slow exhalation is essential to create big bubbles. Breath control can make your child feel calmer, and reduce his anxiety and angry outbursts. Also, your child would get to learn science concepts like buoyancy experientially through the dunk-the-mug exercise.
A drinking straw can be an exciting aid in water games for kids. For these games, you will need a glass of water, an empty container and a drinking straw.
How this helps: These water activities for kids are sensory and experiential in nature. Dip-sip-blow helps with oral sensory development through the sipping and blowing actions using the mouth. Using the straw as a pipette helps in learning science concepts like pressure and air cushioning.
Young children find marine life fascinating and colorful. The following water games for kids capitalise on the natural magnificence of the underwater world by enabling your child to recreate it at home.
How this helps: These games help in developing imagination and creativity. They also enhance your child's aesthetic sense. Moreover, your little one gets to learn about simple science concepts such as floating and sinking as she observes some objects (like pebbles) sinking to the bottom of the tray while others (like the boat) remain afloat.
If you have a garden, introduce your child to outdoor water games in your garden.
How this helps: Being close to nature is always healing. These outdoor water games for kids help with bonding as you and your child spend time together in nature. As children talk to plants and pretend that plants are talking back, they become more empathetic and mindful. The organic perfume factory game is an amazing olfactory sensory activity that introduces your child to various new smells and fragrances.
The following water activities involve working with ice. So, please take the necessary precautions related to health and hygiene. These games work better with preschoolers and older children.
How this helps: The frozen landscape involves strategising. It develops imagination, helps your child learn planning and organisation, and develops his patience as he waits for the water to freeze. Dinosaur excavation builds focus and attention along with fine motor skills.
Fill up half a dozen steel tumblers with varying amounts of water. Give your child a couple of spoons and have him play his very own makeshift jal tarang at home!
How this helps: This is a fun game that enhances auditory processing skills and musical intelligence.
If you have a water table set up at home, your child can engage in these experiments.
How this helps: The water transfer game helps in developing fine motor skills and in improving attention span. A multi-sensory experience of different types of textures has sensory benefits. This can also build your child's curiosity and interest in science concepts like viscosity, liquid suspensions and so on.
Water pistols are inexpensive, yet great fun. Teach your child to refill the pistol on her own. This would encourage independence.
How this helps: Both these games enhance coordination, aim, attention and perseverance. While playing shoot-out, your child also develops body awareness and better spatial orientation.
Tips to set up a water table at home
Choose a location in the house that affords easy clean-up and drainage of water, and set up the water play area. Typically, balconies, wash areas and bathrooms work well. You can either have your carpenter fashion a simple table with a hollow top with waterproofing and flexible drainage, or you can use plastic trays or containers of suitable depth on top of a regular 22 table and fill it up with water.
Young children take to water play very easily. Water games for kids can heal, stimulate and aid in learning. Ensure that you are around to keep your child safe as he or she explores the magical world of water play, and you will be surprised at how rewarding the experience can be.
About the author:
Written by Mina Dilip on 10 November 2020.
Mina Dilip, Child Psychologist, Certified Play Therapist, (PTUK/Leeds Beckett University, UK)
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