Water tables are a fun and functional way to engage early childhood learners in new sensory experiences. Supporting physical, social, and emotional development, water table play facilitates learning in many areas of growth. By encouraging the use of motor skills, children strengthen their muscle movement and coordination. Understanding how water works allows children to acquire skills in math and science. While enjoying the many possibilities of water play, creativity begins to stimulate the child’s imagination.
Thinking about adding a water table to your preschool classroom? Here are some helpful tips to make it a fun and educational experience.
10 Water Table Tips for Preschool Fun
1. Safety First (Parents)
Supervision is key. Always make sure children are being monitored as they enjoy their water table time. Changing the water daily will ensure the water is fresh. Maintain a clear and safe play environment and space. Keep the water table clean, dry, and covered when it is not in use.
2. Safety First (Kids)
Keep water in the water table. If experimenting with more than just water, make sure that whatever medium is being used, stays in the water table. If the table is inside, clean up spills to prevent injury from a slip and fall. Wearing a bathing suit or smock to change out of after play is always a great idea.
3. Keep it Simple
Water play is fun by itself; however, incorporating items from around the house or classroom can engage a child’s imagination. Some pieces that could be fun to include are things like sponges, brushes, bowls, towels, cups, and spray bottles. Also try containers with holes, funnels or straws.
4. Engage Curiosity
Get early childhood learners thinking. Ask questions like: What happens when you do this? Or what does this feel like? The more questions you ask, the more learning happens!
5. Switch it Up
No need to stick to plain water. Some tables can have sand too! Soap can be a fun addition for letting children see how bubbles are made. Mix colored rice or pasta, packing peanuts, dirt, or shaving cream with the water and discover what happens.
6. Inside Fun
Weather not nice enough to be outside? Bring the water table inside. Replace the water with dried foods, like beans or pasta and have measuring cups for children to learn about filling, scooping and pouring. Use colored craft sand (just a thin layer) and have children draw pictures or practice writing the letters of the alphabet. Use the water table as play-dough creative station or craft center.
7. Explore Science
Discover gravity through water play. Teach children about the scientific process. Have them make predictions and test their theories through experiments. Water tables are also great to have on hand during an ocean or beach thematic unit!
8. Explore Math
Early childhood learners will begin to develop an understanding for simple math. Concepts like more or less than, empty or full, how many, how much, numbers and quantities will all come to life. Challenge them to start counting!
9. Incorporate Props
Adding props for water tables encourages more opportunities for playful learning. Incorporate a waterfall, place rubber ducks or toy fish in the water, craft miniature cork boats to float around the table. There also water play tool sets available.
10. Think Outside the Box
As early learners grow out of the water table, get crafty and have children help create a new life for it. Design a birdbath or butterfly pond with lily pads and water plants. Construct a fairy or gnome garden that grows fresh herbs. Upcycling or reusing will teach children how to conserve and invent new out of old.
So, dust off that water table and bring learning to life in your early childhood classroom!
Tell Us: What do you do to encourage water and sand table play with your students?