Water Play

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Water Play

Water Play refers to a wide variety of play and exploration with water. This play may take place in earlier learning settings, at home, or out in the world. Children of all ages are drawn to water play. If water play opportunities are not provided, children will seek them out. They’ll play with water wherever they can find it.–puddles, sinks, and even toilet bowls.

While we here at Playvolution HQ are fans of child-led play, exploration, and learning, we recommend non-toilet-bowl water play opportunities.

We also recommend a wide variety of water play opportunities. Water is an amazing loose part that can be experienced in so many different ways. While a lot can be done with a traditional classroom water play table, kids should engage with water in lots of ways in all its forms. That means play in the rain; play in and near large bodies of water; play with and on ice and snow; play with water hoses; experiences with hot water and steam (boiling an egg or making tea for example); watering plants; and more.

Water play is a path to lots of learning. According to a 2018 NAEYC article1 by Sarah Taylor Vanover, water play supports:

  • Sensory Exploration
  • Mathematical Learning
  • Understanding Scientific Concepts
  • Language Development
  • Social Skills
  • Creativity

Water play and experiences with water may not happen as much as kids would prefer in some early learning settings because of the responsible adult’s concerns over cleanup and safety. Water play can get messy–especially when sand and dirt are introduced into the play. There is also some risk involved. These concerns, however, can be addressed and managed to control the mess, make cleanup easier, and assure everyone stays healthy and safe.

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I'm an early learning speaker, podcaster, content creator, author, and founder of Playvolution HQ and Explorations Early Learning.


  1. https://www.naeyc.org/resources/blog/importance-sand-and-water-play