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Sensory Play – Water

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When thinking about sensory experiences, I wonder how often water comes to mind. It’s an ever changing sensory experience. Water invites investigation and discovery. It can be odorless or have a distinct smell. Think of hot sulfur springs. The water from these naturally occurring mineral springs has a distinct aroma.

Not all water looks the same either. Some is clear, and although the presence of bacteria and parasites might render it otherwise, we associate clarity with purity. That’s a lesson we’d all do well to learn, particularly if we’re hiking, camping or backpacking in the high country.

Mud puddles invite active play – splashing and stomping – and teach us what happens when water and soil mix. Even muddy water varies in color; mud from red clay soil is quite different in color and texture from mud from alluvial soil. Taking samples, making slides, and looking at water from different sources gives children insight into the complexity of water. It’s H2O and more, and sometimes looks deceive.

Water from different sources tastes different. Consider bottled water. Each reflects its source; minerals in the water create its taste. Still and effervescent waters taste different too. A splash of juice, fresh fruit, a slice of cucumber transform water. Time for a test tasting. Experiment and discover.

Who doesn’t slow down and relax when hearing the soothing sound of water in a fountain? Contrast that to the sound of rain drops pelting a window or the roar of waves crashing on giant boulders. Water has the power to soothe and to terrify. Ask anyone who’s survived a flood or heard raging water too close for comfort.

Certainly we feel water: splashing, spraying, pouring all produce different feelings. A bath feels different from a shower. Cold water feels different on our skin than warm. Pouring in bath salts changes the feel of bath water. Another opportunity to explore and discover.

Just remember to conserve this vital, finite resource.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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Play-based Learning – Water Play

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Where would children be without water play? Water provides opportunities galore for playing and learning, and in the height of summer, what child doesn’t enjoy cooling off by running through sprinklers and playing in a splash pool?

Flooding sand with water creates another realm of play as children scoop, mold and sculpt the wet sand. Digging and filling channels with water expand the experience as children float objects in the canal, discover what floats (a leaf) and what sinks (an acorn) and figure out why. As the sand absorbs the water and the channels run dry, children discover more about the properties of sand and water. That’s experiential learning at its best.

Filling and pouring, measuring and mixing, using containers of different shapes and sizes lead to a developmental milestone known as conservation of liquids. This means that a child understands that a specific volume of a liquid is the same whether the container is round or square, short or tall, big or small, fat or narrow.

Consider this classic experiment. An adult fills two short, fat beakers with an equal volume of colored liquid and asks a child to verify that the two beakers contain exactly the same amount of the liquid. Once the child and adult agree, the adult pours the contents from one beaker into a tall, narrow one and asks the child if the two beakers contain the same or different amounts. A child understanding the concept of quantity of a liquid knows the volume remains the same. One who does not will insist that the taller beaker holds more. Why? Because it’s taller, an opinion based on external appearance. Typically children master this concept between five and seven years old.

More ways to play and learn with water:
Add food coloring or bio-colors and explore color mixing.
Experiment with freezing and thawing to observe how water expands when frozen and contracts as it melts.
Add leaves, acorns, twigs to water, freeze and observe how being frozen changes the appearance of the findings inside the ice.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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Play-based Learning – Water and the Environment

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Water play is a perennial childhood activity and an obvious starting point for learning about the environment. Water is an essential source of nourishment for people and the plants and animals with whom we share the planet. Our supply of water is finite, making preserving this precious resource critical. Learning to turn off the faucet when we’re not using water may be our first lesson in resource conservation.

Remembering to water plants and provide water for animals is another lesson in resource management. Gardening allows children to develop knowledge of the life cycle of flowers and vegetables, from planting to harvesting. Although starter plants mature faster, planting seeds allows children to experience the magic of watching a seed sprout and develop. Learning when and how to water different plants teaches children about the unique requirements of different plants and how we must respect those needs for our plants to flourish.

When providing fresh water for our pets, we demonstrate the importance of water to animals and our commitment to caring for these animals. Adding a bird bath to the garden shows children that our commitment goes beyond our family and encompasses wildlife too. Children delight in watching wild birds splashing in the bird bath, cooling and cleaning themselves.

Regular emptying, scrubbing, and re-filling the bird bath with fresh water underscore commitment and demonstrate responsibility. As a shared adult/child activity, this daily ritual provides quality time together and additional teachable moments as children ask questions and we provide answers. If many different birds come to the bird bath, identifying and naming the birds builds vocabulary and could lead to a trip to the library or the internet in search of more information. Writing down the names of the different birds and keeping track of sightings heightens anticipation and enhances memory and numeracy skills.

Taking pictures and putting together a booklet featuring “frequent fliers” to your bird bath requires creativity, planning, organization and follow through and is well worth the effort, given the skills being developed and the joy of time spent together making memories.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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What Children Learn from Water Play

Where would children be without water play? Water provides opportunities galore for playing and learning, and in the height of summer, what child doesn’t enjoy cooling off by running through sprinklers and playing in a splash pool?

Flooding sand with water creates another realm of play as children scoop, mold and sculpt the wet sand. Digging and filling channels with water expand the experience as children float objects in the canal, discover what floats – a leaf – and what sinks – an acorn – and figure out why. As the sand absorbs the water and the channels run dry, children discover more about the properties of sand and water. That’s experiential learning at its best.

Filling and pouring, measuring and mixing, using containers of different shapes, sizes, heights and diameters lead to a developmental milestone known as conservation of liquids. This means that a child understands that a specific volume of a liquid is the same whenever the shape, size, height or diameter of the container into which it is poured.

Consider this classic conversion experiment. An adult fills two short, fat beakers with an equal volume of colored liquid and asks a child to verify that the two beakers contain exactly the same amount of the liquid. Once the child and adult agree, the adult pours the contents from one beaker into a tall, narrow one and asks the child if the two beakers contain the same or different amounts. A child understanding the conservation of  liquids  knows the volume remains the same.  One who does not will insist that the taller beaker holds more. Why? Because it’s taller, an opinion based on external appearance. Typically children master this concept between five and seven years old.

More ways to play and learn with water:

add food coloring or bio-colors and explore color mixing

experiment with freezing and thawing to observe how water expands when frozen and contracts as it melts

add leaves, acorns, twigs to water, freeze and observe how being frozen changes the appearance of the findings inside the ice

 PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

Posted on Leave a comment

What Children Learn from Water

Water play is a perennial childhood activity and an obvious starting point for learning about the environment. Water is an essential source of nourishment for people and the plants and animals with whom we share the planet. Our supply of water is finite, making preserving this precious resource critical. Learning to turn off the faucet when we’re not using water may be our first lesson in resource conservation.

Remembering to water plants and provide water for animals is another lesson in resource management. Gardening allows children to develop knowledge of the life cycle of flowers and vegetables, from planting to harvesting. Although starter plants mature faster, planting seeds allows children to experience the magic of watching a seed sprout and develop. Learning when and how to water different plants teaches children about the unique requirements of different plants and how we must respect those needs for our plants to flourish.

When providing fresh water for our pets, we demonstrate the importance of water to animals and our commitment to caring for these animals. Adding a bird bath to the garden shows children that our commitment goes beyond our family and encompasses wildlife too. Children delight in watching wild birds splashing in the bird bath, cooling and cleaning themselves.

Regular emptying, scrubbing, and re-filling the bird bath with fresh water underscore commitment and demonstrate responsibility. As a shared adult/child activity, this daily ritual provides quality time together and additional teachable moments as children ask questions and we provide answers. If many different birds come to the bird bath, identifying and naming the birds builds vocabulary and could lead to a trip to the library in search of more information. Writing down the names of the different birds and keeping track of sightings heightens anticipation and enhances memory and numeracy skills.

Taking pictures and putting together a booklet featuring “frequent fliers” to your bird bath requires creativity, planning, organization, and follow through and is well worth the effort, given the skills being developed and the joy of time spent together making memories.

 PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play