Fun summer water activities and you know your kids are learning through play!
It’s summer on our side of the planet. That means more time to play outside coupled with trying to beat that heat! What better way to cool down than with some nice cool water. Ever wonder why kids find water to be so entertaining? Turns out there is some science behind why it’s so hard to entice children away from the sink when they are done “washing” their hands forever. Let’s think about what makes water (or any liquid really) so much fun. Part of what draws kids to water is movement, back and forth, spilling over, a stream running off different directions maybe being redirected by little hands. Then there is the splashing (the most fun movement of course) or making waves. Children could play with water for hours.
Science is “a way of exploring and investigating the world around us… not only a way of knowing; it is… a way of doing.” -Martin W. Wenham (Plant biologist turned teacher)
Science is “a way of exploring and investigating the world around us… not only a way of knowing; it is… a way of doing.” So, let’s explore some of the science concepts involved in water play and don’t forget to check out the cool list at the bottom of this article for some fun activities to nurture playful learning. Playing is investigating and children get the most benefit from in depth investigations. An example is how puddles form, this is a science experiment all on its own! Think about how a puddle forms, start by talking about running water. Examine how water moves by splashing around and then let it settle, like magic: water stills and there becomes a puddle. Guide the learning activity by asking questions about what’s going to happen with water play and by making some predictions (hypothesis!).
An excellent way to start hypothesizing is to play the “Sink or Float” game by grabbing some water friendly objects and getting to “work”. If your kids are old enough you could incorporate a lesson on the concepts of buoyancy, displacement, up thrust, porosity and density (I had to look some of these up online). Children can spend many happy hours experimenting on their own with items to see which sink or float. When you add bubbles to the mix you can be the teacher by talking about the science concepts of cohesion, surface tension, surfactants and light spectrum (google is your friend here). But of course, the main goal is just to have fun!
So, if it’s hot where you are too check out this list of super fun inexpensive things to do with the family.
Reader BEWARE, all of these activities will put you in the splash zone.
Water Fun @ Home
Water Activity Bin
Any storage bin will do, but the shallow kind work best for little people. I like to set my bin outside on a raised surface such as a kiddie table or some overturned crates for easy access but on the ground works fine too. Gather some “water toys” in a basket (laundry basket works great). Gathering toys can be a fun activity all on its own! Go through the kitchen and the bathroom for safe unbreakable measuring cups, ladles, basters and small containers (recyclables like yogurt cups, margarine tubs are fun) let your kids choose from some options.
Set up your bin with desired amount of water, set the basket outside for the kids and enjoy the fun!
This leads perfectly into the next activity…
Sponge Bombs (instead of water balloons-AND REUSABLE!)
Pretty self-explanatory and exactly what it sounds like. The dollar store is great for this purpose and you can find some of those big automotive size sponges if you’re lucky.
Kiddie Pool Full of Bubbles
Don’t forget to add the bubble BEFORE you add the water, seems so simple to forget! Letting the kids fill the kiddie pool using the spray nozzle on the hose adds extra fun because they get to watch the bubbles GROW!
DIY Giant Bubbles
6 cups of water (distilled works best)
½ cup of “ultra-concentrated” blue Dawn (or Joy) brand dish soap
½ cup corn starch
1tbsp baking powder
1tbs glycerine (available in many pharmacies, craft stores and of course always online)
Two containers: one to store it in and one shallower bin for dipping
** Directions: Dissolve the cornstarch into the water by stirring well, next mix in the remaining ingredients while trying not to create too much froth.
** Bubble mix works best when used at least one hour after preparation. The bubble solution might need a gentle stirring whenever cornstarch settles at the bottom. Lastly, don’t get discouraged if the first few bubbles don’t meet your expectations. After a little gentle agitation and a few attempts should get some good bubble magic flowing.
DIY Bubble Wand Supplies
2 Straws (6 inches*)
Thread or Yarn (30 inches*)
Thread the string through the straws and tie ends of string together to make a loop, feed the thread through the straws so the thread knot is inside one of the straws. Finally, spread out your wand into a big loop using the straws as handles, dip it into your bubble mix and enjoy the fun!
Swimming & Splash Pads
Many local rec centers have pools and a few parks now have splash pads. Don’t forget to take a bucket and water toys for an added element of fun! Many community pools don’t allow floatation toys but small water toys and buckets are fair game.
If you’re in Utah check out these cool links for local splash pads:
Gross, C. M. (2012). Science concepts young children learn through water play. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 40(2). Retrieved from http://southernearlychildhood.org/upload/pdf/Volume_40_Issue_2_FINAL.pdf#page=5