Simple, educational, and fun
Preschoolers find water fascinating. Even older children can entertain themselves for hours around a small, clear running stream. Preschoolers can have a lot of fun with water while learning (and keeping relatively clean). Here are a few water activities for preschoolers and toddlers to make the most out of water play time at school or home.
This activity stimulates from multiple angles. Fill up a basin with water and lead preschoolers in collecting various plants to fill it with until the entire water surface of the basin is covered in floating flora. Daisies, dandelions, grass, leaves, acorns, honeysuckle, and whatever else you can find that’s safe and can be acquired easily can be used here.
This activity is best in early autumn or late spring. You might get preschoolers started by doing a little collection yourself to show what’s acceptable. You can teach social dynamics as well by having children take turns collecting flowers and other plants for the “soup.” Play toys can be used too, as can ladles. This experiment is fun, interactive, and easy to make your own.
This is a classic preschool activity involving water colored with non-toxic dye and poured into two-liter bottles (reuse and upcycle!). Egg cartons, bowls, spoons, and toys can all be employed as means of interacting with water. You can teach students about how to separate colors, and how to make new colors by pouring certain ones together. These activities stimulate the sense of touch and sight. You may want to put some smocks at this station and find dyes that don’t stain, or at least dyes that don’t stain hands, or surfaces on which those hands land.
Frozen floating fun
Freeze water in ice cube trays and other small containers and then drop them into a large bucket, bowl, or basin of water. You could also hide popular figurines in the ice (provided they’re safe for preschoolers to interact with). Disney characters are very popular today. Plus, the coldness of the water and the melting of the ice both serve as simple, tactile educational opportunities.
An ocean in a basin
You can set up a little watery play area that has a “terrarium” quality to it. If you’ve got old fishing decorations from a tank, they can look great in a basin with a few toy boats and fish. You might include a few rocks as well. This can serve as a starting point for teaching preschoolers how the ocean works, and helping stimulate their minds. As you’re likely aware, playing pretend is one of the best ways for young minds to develop, and there’s a certain quality to the ocean which naturally lends itself to flights of fancy.
Simple water experiments
Water-displacement experiments where rocks, toys, and other items that sink are put into water, and the water level is seen to rise, can be educational fun. You can also engage preschoolers by using varying squeeze toys that suck up water and then squirt it out. Though with rambunctious class members, you may want to be careful—squirting toys are often misused.
Water fun for everyone!
The last thing to remember with water activities for preschoolers is: have fun! Just because you’re leading the class doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the activities, too!