If you have young children, a water table is an absolute necessity!
Our water table is easily the most used toy in our home. It provides hours of entertainment! We actually use our water table year round. (Water tables aren’t just for water!) Now that Summer is here, our water table returned to the backyard and is ready for hours of splashing fun!
After my 4th child was born with Down syndrome, I really started to think about play differently. I started to research quality toys and come up with activities for him based on what he was currently working on in therapy. Our usual free play activities are now enhanced by sensory and learning elements, along with exercises to help build fine motor skills. The simplest activities are now so much more fun and all of my kids benefit from it!
There is so much that you can add to the water table to make it even more fun and it doesn’t cost much at all! I have a plastic storage crate filled with water play items so my kids can easily choose an activity. Here are a few of our favorite add-ins:
LETTER SCOOP & LEARN
Fill the water table with foam bath letters!
Toddlers: Scoop up the letters with the net. This is great for building fine motor skills. Bonus points for transferring the letters to a bucket or the other half of the water table!
Big Kids: Shout out a letter and have them find the letter and scoop it out with the net! For kids who are learning to read, tell them a simple 2 to 3 letter sight word. Have them find the letters and spell it out by sticking the letters to the side of the water table!
This is a favorite! My kids like to dunk the balls to the bottom, let go and watch them pop out of the water. I never knew that $3 would buy them hours of fun!
POOL NOODLE STACKING
Pool noodles are so versatile! A pool noodle cut into slices makes a great bath toy. We keep some in our water table activity crate, too! Stacking them helps to build fine motor skills!
WATER BALLOON SENSORY PLAY
Fill a bunch of water balloons and toss them into the water. Kids love the texture, and when they’re done, they can have a water balloon fight or play water balloon baseball!
Fill the water table with a variety of plastic boats and let the kids set sail! They can blow on them to see if they can get them to sail or, if your table has water slides, they can slide the boats down the slide!
Purchase an inexpensive toy fishing set and let the fish loose in the water table. Older kids can catch them with the fishing rod and younger kids can use a net!
What should you do with all those rubber duckies? Float them in the water table!
A few packs of sponges from the dollar store make a great addition to the water table! Cut them into simple shapes, and toss them in. The kids can stack them (fine motor skills), float them and squeeze the water out of them (builds hand strength)!
SCOOP & POUR SHAPES
Toss in some extra measuring cups, scoops, funnels and foam counting shapes (Target Dollar Spot). Scooping and pouring is a great fine motor skill exercise! Plus, you can incorporate counting and learning shapes and colors while playing!
Counting: Count the number of shapes total then count how many there are of each shape.
Sorting: Sort by color and shape.
Stacking: Give the kids a challenge. See how many shapes they can stack before the tower falls!
Simple Math: Float a shape addition problem in the water! 1 yellow star + 3 blue squares equals how many shapes? It’s a fun way to introduce simple math!
RAINBOW SOAP FOAM
Rainbow soap foam is such a fun sensory play idea!
- Tear-free Bubble Bath (1/2 cup per batch)
- Water (1 cup per batch)
- Food Coloring
- Large Bowls
Decide how many different colors you want to use, then make a batch of soap foam in each bowl. Pour 1/2 cup of bubble bath and 1 cup of water into each bowl. Add a few drops of food coloring to each batch. Mix each batch with a hand mixer on medium speed until it forms into a lot of foam. It takes about 1-1 1/2 minutes per batch. Dump each bowl into the water table and enjoy!
When you’re done playing, just climb in and cool down! Life is good!
What are your favorite water table play activities?