We love Sensory play! And while their are so many amazing sensory bases, sometimes keeping it easy is the way to go! And it doesn’t get easier than water play! There are endless ways to use water in play, and the best part is that it is not only easy, but kids (typically) LOVE to play with water.
So in this post I wanted to put together some ideas to spice up your water play! Here some some ideas that we have used in our play over the past few years.
1 | NATURE SOUP
We love to add nature to our play and one of the easiest ways to play with water is to throw some water in a water table and add some rocks, sticks, grass, and dirt + some bowls, scoops,etc.
A set up like this will keep my toddler busy for such a long time! Plus it doesn’t get much easier than this, am I right?
2 | POTION CREATION STATION
Okay, this is the EASIEST way to play with water! All you need is a variety of containers, some water, and some liquid food coloring. You can add in some ice, scoops, fine motor tools, and some funnels for some added fun as well!
3 | NATURE CUBES
We recently made these flower ice cubes for the first time and I am obsessed with how they turned out! I simply picked some flowers from my garden outside and added them into an ice cube tray with water, froze over night, and then popped them into our sensory table the next day! I included some warm water, squirt bottles, and some small bowls, and within minutes we had a great activity that was perfect for a hot day outside.
4 | FLOWER SOUP
Another favorite of mine is what we like to call “flower soup”. I have done so many variations of this activity because it is so easy and such a great water activity for a warm summer day! Simply gather some flowers from outside, plop them into some water, add some spoons and scoops, and that’s it! So easy but always a hit!
5 | OCEAN PLAY
You can’t have a post about water and not include an ocean themed tray! This is still one of my favorite water table setups that I have done, and it was SO easy! We have recreated the ocean table a variety of times, and every time all I use is water with a very small drop of blue food coloring, our ocean animals, some artificial aquarium plants, and then some shells, rocks, etc.
I usually throw in some scoops and containers as well because what toddler doesn’t love scooping and pouring water?
6 | BATH THE BABY
My 3 year old has recently become very into her baby doll, so one day I decided to but together this cute set up so she could bath her. She absolutely loved this and did the whole routine (bath, dry, dress) multiple times. I purposely bought a doll that I could remove limbs and head with the thought that the baby may end up in the water. After we finish playing with the doll, I dry her out by taking her head and limbs off and laying her on a towel to air dry completely. This way I know she will never get moldy inside! That is always my fear when using toys in water. We have this baby doll if you are in need of one that can go into water!
7 | FOAM BUBBLE FUN
So easy, but always such a hit with my toddler! All you need is some dish soap and some water. The key to create the foamy effect is to use a blender! You just add the soap and water (I always add a bit of food coloring as well) and blend it up.
8 | CAR WASH
Do you have a toy car? Whether a large ride on one, or a smaller toy car, washing the car is a fun activity for your toddler! Take your toy car, a bucket of soapy water, a rag or a sponge, and you have an activity! My toddler loves this activity and we usually do it every Spring when we pull the car out of winter storage.
9 | WASH THE DISHES
I can only hope my child loves to wash the dishes as much at age 15 as she does at age 3. This is a go to activity for me because it is so easy. Water and soap, some play dishes, and some sponges is all you need!
10 | SPAY THE NUMBERS
Using some paper and a spray bottle of water, we created this easy number recognition game! I taped the paper to our fence, but a garage door, patio, or siding on your house would work just as well! I simply called out a number and M sprayed what I called out. You could easily do this with letters, shapes, colors, or words as well.
I have also seen a similar activity done with chalk and a hose. Write numbers on your fence or on your driveway and have your toddler spray the number you call out until it disappears! I don’t always trust my toddler with a hose (LOL), so we went with the spray bottle option.
11 | FRUIT IN WATER
Giving a toddler a tub of water is usually a win even on its own, but I usually try to toss something in to add to the fun. In this case it was lemon and limes! I added in some scoops, bowls, and play pots and this made for a great outside activity on a sunny day!
12 | WATER BALLOONS
Water balloons are always an easy way to cool down on a hot day and they will keep your kiddo busy as well! My toddler loved throwing the water balloons around, squeezing them, etc.
I used regular balloons in the photo below because they were harder to break, which made for a great sensory experience for my then 2 year old. She loved squeezing them and throwing them around watching them bounce. She even sat on them. But we have also used regular water balloons that break super easily, and they were a whole different kind of fun!
Obviously watch for the broken balloon pieces as they can be a choking hazard.
13 | WATER AND POM POMS
Like I mentioned with the fruit in water activity above, I like to add a little something extra to our water play to mix it up! In this case I added pom poms and threw in our Learning Resources Fine Motor Tools + some bowls. A super easy activity but lots of fun!
14 | SHAVING CREAM & WATER
My toddler LOVES playing with shaving cream. It has become a go to sensory base for us. In this specific activity we did an Ocean Theme. I added a small amount of food coloring to the shaving cream and the water to fit with the theme. When playing with shaving cream we always pair it with water so that my toddler has somewhere to rinse her hands off.
15 | FROG POND
We have done a few different versions of this activity because it is so easy but always provides lots of open ended play. You can really just use materials from around your yard (sticks, rocks, etc.) and water. Throw in some frogs (ours are Safari Ltd.) and you are all set!
16 | WATER & ICE
It doesn’t get much easier than this one! Grab a plastic tub, some water, and some ice. This is a great activity for a hot day. I always throw in some scoops, containers, and other fine motor tools to add to the fun. Toddlers love to scoop and pour, so this easy water play activity is a hit!
17 | WASH THE ANIMALS
Wash the Animals! The only thing my toddler loves more than water is mud. This activity was such a hit with my 3 year old. All we did was grab some dirt from outside and add a small amount of water to make some mud, threw in some animals, and then added a second tub of water with soap, and some cleaning tools. She absolutely loved washing her animals and making them nice and clean again!
18 | CLEAN THE OCEAN
We set up this activity for Earth Day this year and my 3 year old LOVED it. I set up an Ocean setting and then added “garbage” to it. We picked out all the garbage from the water with our fine motor tweezers and put it into our little make shift garbage can. I had to set this up over and over and over because it was such a hit! When she was finally done with garbage clean up she played with the tray for another 15 minutes.
The tray set up itself is just dry pasta, water, ocean animals, aquarium plants, and then random items from around the house to use as garbage (straws, bottles caps, paper, a small plastic cup, etc.
So there you have it! 18 ways to play with water! Because what toddler doesn’t love playing in water. We especially love water play in the summer as it is a great way to get outside and get some sunshine. M can play, and momma can sit on the deck and enjoy a coffee or read a book in the sun! It is also a lot less messy to do water play outside, am I right?
What is your toddlers favorite way to play with water? Let me know in the comments below!