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25 Super Fun Water Activities For Toddlers And Preschoolers

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Most babies and toddlers love playing inthe water. While splashing around in a bathtub filled with water is fun, activities with water as the theme could be even better. Listed below are 25 water activities for babies and toddlers. Pick an activity based on the age of the baby and their ability to think and play.

Besides being fun, these games also offer certain benefits such as releasing pent up energy which then calms stress, developing motor skills, etc.

Precautions To Take For Safe Water Play

Before jumping into the activities, let’s look at some safety measures you must follow while allowing your kids to play with or in water.

  • It’s better to conduct most water activities outdoors so that there won’t be any mess inside the house.
  • No matter how simple the water activity is, never leave your kids unattended. Always supervise their activities.
  • Keep the water level low, maximum one or two inches deep.
  • Ensure babies are older than eight months, have good head and neck control,sit, or stand on their own before involving them in any water play.
  • Try to avoid small items like stones, pebbles, marbles, and water marbles that babies can put in the mouth or swallow.
  • Also, avoid any sharp objects.
  • Use kid-friendly soaps and avoid harsh detergents.
  • Use food colors as they may not cause any harm to the toddler’s delicate skin.
  • Make sure that the kids don’t drink water or swallow any items involved in the activity.
  • Use warm water, if possible, for all kinds of water activities.

25 Water Activities For Babies And Toddlers

1. Water filling activity

This is a simple water game where you can involve toddlers and babies who can sit on their own and have a good grip.

Image: iStock

You will need

Two flat containers, scooping objects like measuring cups, scoops, medicine droppers, small buckets or mugs, colanders, etc.

How to play

  • Take flat containers or tubs, keep them side by side and fill water in one box to its brim.
  • Give a scooping tool to your toddler and ask them to transfer the water from one container to the other. Change the scoopers so that they don’t feel bored with the same thing.
  • This is an activity that babies can enjoy for hours. Once the container is full, ask them to repeat the same from the second container to the first.

2. Bubble play

A simple but exciting activity for kids is the water bubble play. It is simple to set-up but would engage your kids for hours together.

Image: iStock

You will need

Water tub, liquid bath soap, bath toys, water, and a towel

How to play

Fill water in the tub, add the liquid soap, and whirl it a little to create foam. Leave your babies and kids in it, and let them explore it while you supervise.

3. Watering plants

This activity is also an opportunity to teach your kids about nature and the environment around them. It allows them to water plants, know what is overwatering, how often plants need water, and which plants require what kind of care.

Image: iStock

You will need

A small watering can or a small bucket and a mug

How to play

  • Take your kids around your garden and introduce them to the different plants you have in there. If they’re already familiar with the plants, go straight to the activity by handing them the water can.
  • You can also show them how to do it so that they won’t overwater the plant. Supervision is necessary while they’re watering the plants.
  • If the water can is empty, ask them to refill it and repeat it to the rest of the plants.

4. Pool ball play

Another simple outdoor water activity for toddlers is the pool ball play. It’s ideal for summer outdoor activities as the kids love spending time in cold water for hours. You can also include your babies who can sit in this activity.

Image: iStock

You will need

A medium-sized play pool, a bag of colorful balls, and water.

How to play

Find a shaded, cool place in your garden to place the play pool. Fill it with water and add the balls.

Leave your kids in it with minimal dressing, and they will enjoy their pool game. If there are 2-3 kids, it would be more fun than a single child playing all alone. If the child is alone, you can join in if there is space.

5. Squeeze the sponge

This is an easy water play set-up in which both babies and toddlers can be involved. You can teach them a variety of things within this activity.

You will need

Two flat water tubs, some thin sponges, water, and some small toys.

How to play

Fill one container with water and keep the other next to it. Add sponges to the water-filled container.

Show the kid how to dip the sponge in water and squeeze it in another tub to release the water. Ask them to repeat the same and transfer the entire water from one container to the other.

Other things you can do in the activity:

  • Observe how the sponges are floating
  • Stack the sponges in water, and still, they float
  • You can ask them to sort the sponges based on their color
  • Place some small toys over the floating sponges and see which ones are sinking.

Instead of sponges, you can also use pompoms. As they are available in different shades, the activity becomes more colorful.

6. Water splashing with fly swatters

Kids love to splash water, and when you involve them in an activity that includes water splashing, there is no end to their excitement. The fly swatters activity is one such fun game that keeps your kids entertained for hours.

You will need

Colorful fly swatters, flat water containers, small water toys like frogs, fishes, boats, etc.

How to play

  • Ask your kids to fill the water container using a watering can.
  • Add toys to the water and mix it once to make the toys move in the water.
  • Give your kids the fly swatters and ask them to hit the frogs and bugs. This would splash the water, making it a fun activity.

You can also ask them to catch the frogs or fishes using the swatters. Tell them to match the color of the swatters and the water toys. For example, they can catch a blue fish only with a blue swatter and so on.

7. Garden soup

Outdoor water games or activities are perfect for a sunny day backyard activity. Garden soup making is more fun when you have more children at your place.

Image: iStock

You will need

Large containers or bowls, measuring cups, scoops, play scissors, spoons, ladles, water pitchers, tweezers, etc.

How to play

  • Fill the containers with water and place them on a table adjusted to the height of your toddlers.
  • Give them the play scissors and ask them to get some flowers, leaves, and anything from the garden.
  • Once they collect them, ask them to chop them and make soup by putting different ingredients in different containers.
  • They can use the ladles and spoons to mix the soup, and once they are done, they can transfer it into small containers and serve it.

This pretend-play keeps your kids engaged while making them excited about cooking.

8. Float and sink

An interesting water activity for toddlers, this involves moving around and sitting from time to time. It’s ideal to plan this learning activity outdoors, especially during summers, as it involves water.

You will need

A water tub with medium depth, some natural items like leaves, twigs, flowers, stones, shells, etc., some water toys.

How to play

  • Ask your kids to collect some items like leaves, flowers, stones, sticks, shells, buds, etc., from your garden.
  • Place the collected items next to the water tub along with the water toys.
  • Now ask your kid to sit there and drop one item at a time into the water, and note what items are floating and which is sinking.
  • Once every object is dropped in water, repeat the activity while asking questions or giving hints such as, drop something that floats.

9. Toy cleaning

If you’re running short of water play ideas or don’t have enough energy to set up an activity, you can engage your kids in washing their toys. As it involves water, your toddlers would enjoy it while helping you with the cleaning chores.

Image: iStock

You will need

Washable toys made of plastic and silicone, two water tubs, dish soap, a towel.

How to play

  • Ask your toddlers to collect toys from all the rooms, sort them, and separate all the washable toys.
  • Fill both the containers with water, maybe two inches deep. Add dish soap to one container and make some water bubbles.
  • Ask your kiddo to wash each toy at a time in the soap-filled container and then rinse it in plain water.
  • Then keep it on a towel spread on the floor. Once all the toys are washed, they can wipe them with the towel.

10. Color water

This is a fun activity to teach kids primary and secondary colors. This activity is enjoyable for it features two components that they love – water and colors.

You will need

Water containers, food colors, water toys, glitter, etc.

How to play

  • Add water in one container and add any one of the primary colors, say red.
  • Drop the water toys and let the kids play for some time in that colored water.
  • After a few minutes, add another primary color, say yellow. And tell your kids that they’re going see some magic as the water slowly turns to orange.
  • Now take another tub and try another combination. You can try different primary color combinations and surprise your kids with the newly formed secondary colors.

11. Water beads sorting

The small slimy balls are appealing to kids. Since they are likely to enjoy playing with them, why not craft a fun learning activity around it?

Image: iStock

You will need

Dry water beads, empty bowls.

How to play

  • A day before the activity, give the dry water beads to your little one and ask him to soak them in water. Make sure you’re supervising them during the entire process.
  • On the activity day, remove excess water, if any, from the soaked water beads and keep them in a big bowl.
  • Now ask your little ones to sort the balls according to their color and place them in bowls.
  • You can also ask your kids to transfer each water bead from one bowl to another with a spoon. Since the balls are slippery, it’s a bit tricky to get the grip and maintain the balance.

This activity is not recommended for babies as the beads could be a choking hazard for them. Even for toddlers and kids, adult supervision is necessary to ensure they don’t put the beads in the mouth.

12. Oil and water bag activity

This is a baby-friendly activity as it encourages them to sit and play for a long time. It can be conducted indoors and is mess-free.

You will need

Bigger size freezer bags, oil, water, duct tape, food colors.

How to play

  • Tape all three sides of the freezer bag to make it extra secure.
  • Add water, ¼ quantity of oil, and food color of your choice.
  • Now close the other end and seal it with a tape. Shake the packet well and place it on the floor, taping all four sides to the floor.
  • Give the bag to the baby,let them move or shake it as they like. They can squish, squeeze, and tap the bag to watch the bubbles form inside.

13. Ice treasure hunt

Let’s add some science to the fun activity with some water, ice, and salt. This ice treasure hunt is an interesting way to engage your kids in a cool summer activity.

Image: iStock

You will need

Small toys (preferably sea creatures like fishes, snails, sea horses, seashells), a freezer-safe container, a big container, salt (colored or normal), a shaker for salt, scoops, etc.

How to play

  • Before the day of the activity, add water to the freezer-safe container, drop all the toys, and keep it in the freezer overnight.
  • On the activity day, remove the ice block and keep it in the big container.
  • Explain to your kids how water and salt can be used to melt the ice block.
  • Give them a salt shaker and some warm water and ask them to find the toys by melting the ice.
  • You can also provide some kid-friendly hammers, tweezers, etc., to break the ice and find the creatures inside.

If the activity is conducted among a group of kids, the one who collects the maximum number of creatures wins.

14. Water painting

Kids enjoy mimicking their parents’ actions and hence love to pretend play. This activity with water is just what they need to have some fun and is best played outdoors.

You will need

A paint tray, paint rollers, paintbrushes, and a bucket.

How to play

  • Fill water in the paint tray.
  • Give the rollers to your kids and ask them to paint the floor or any wall.
  • You can also give them some old furniture like chairs and tables and ask them to paint using brushes.
  • Tell them to refill the paint tray once it is empty.

15. Chalk and water painting

An extension of the water painting activity is the chalk and water painting. With some simple supplies, you can let your kids create magical paintings in your backyard or sidewalks.

Image: iStock

You will need

Colorful sidewalk chalks, paintbrushes, and water.

How to play

Select a place for this activity. It could be your driveway, front patio, backyard, or any area with some stones so that you can use the chalk to draw on it.

  • Once you decide the place, ask your kids to draw something random on the floor. It could be a rainbow, the sun,and a mountain, or geometric shapes that they can fill color in.
  • Once the drawing is finished, take a paintbrush, dip it in water, and give a nice stroke on the drawing.
  • Don’t wipe it too hard as it may take-off the chalk painting entirely. Just a slight stroke on the whole painting, and you’re done with a soft watercolor effect.

16. Baby bath pretend play

Another interesting activity that involves water is the baby bath pretend play. As kids like to imitate their parents, any play that involves them doing grown-up activities is of great interest to them.

Image: iStock

You will need

Hard-bodied plastic dolls (available in any second-hand store or online) or old plastic dolls, a large container as a bathtub, bath supplies like liquid soap, shampoo, towel, brush, paste, etc., small clothes for the dolls, water.

How to play

  • Set up everything for the baby bath and leave it to your kids.
  • Keep the dolls in the containers, add some water, and keep all supplies beside the tub.
  • On a separate table, keep the dry supplies like towels, make-up items, clothes, etc.

Let your kids take the lead and see how they give a bath to the baby doll, followed by grooming. Stay with the kids as they play to ensure safety.

17. Washing clothes

Kids and washing clothes? Why not? Pretend washing clothes is a realistic activity that they have to learn when they grow up, but more fun when it is all about playing with water.

Image: iStock

You will need

Doll clothes, small napkins, baby onesies, t-shirts, clothespins, laundry soap (mild), a rope, two to three buckets, and water.

How to play

  • Set up everything, show the kids what needs to be done.
  • As part of the preparation, tie the rope between two trees or posts, fill the buckets with water, and add detergent to one, keep the clothes handy.
  • The kids need to dip the clothes in the detergent water, rub and squeeze them gently, and rinse them in plain water.
  • They then need to squeeze them and place them on the rope and add the clothespins.

18. Create an ocean

This is a sensory activity as the kids make it with their own hands.

Image: Shutterstock

You will need

A sensory tub or a big container to fill water, small, round stones, pebbles, blue sensory beads, aquarium toys like fishes, sea horses, dolphins, and octopus

How to play

  • Fill the container with some water, blue sensory beads that are flexible, and some pebbles.
  • Show them some sample pictures of a sensory ocean bin and ask them to arrange it similarly.
  • They can place the fishes and octopuses between the beads for showing ocean life.

19. Float the boats

This is a basic activity in which you can involve both your babies and toddlers. With simple supplies, your kids can have unlimited fun in the water.

Image: iStock

You will need

Some color papers, a container, and water.

How to play

  • You can teach your toddlers how to make a boat using colored papers.
  • Once your paper boats are ready, ask them to drop it in the water-filled container.
  • If there is more than one kid, they can have a boat race and free boat sailing.

Instead of paper boats, you can also make use of empty juice cartons. Just add a sail to the boat made using some stiff cards cut in a triangle shape.

20. Fishing in the pool

If your babies love to spend time in the pool, this fishing activity would attract them and engage them for hours.

Image: iStock

You will need

A baby pool or a big container, floating fish toys, bath toys, a net, and water.

How to play

  • Fill the baby pool with water and add fish and other bath toys to it.
  • Let your baby or toddler sit inside it.
  • Give them the net and ask them to catch the fish.
  • You can make the older kids stand outside the pool and catch the fish.
  • If there are multiple kids, ask them to compete with each other to catch the fish.

21. Color ball hunt

Image: iStock

This is similar to fishing in the pool but involves more color sorting. Water and color are two kids’ favorites and hence would appeal to them.

You will need

Colorful water balls, a big container to fill water, colored tubs, scooper or net, and water.

How to play

  • Fill water in the tub about one-inch deep and add the color balls to it.
  • Keep the color containers next to the water tub.
  • Give the scooper or net to your kids and ask them to pick up each ball and keep it in the same colored container.

22. Spray painting

Spray painting involves colors and water, making it appealing for the little one. As this involves a lot of hand usage, it improves fine motor skills.

You will need

Spray bottles, liquid watercolors, large drawing paper, easel, or something to keep the paper on the floor.

How to play

  • Fill the spray bottles with different color water.
  • Spread the drawing paper on the floor or fix it on the easel.
  • Give the spray bottle to the kids and ask them to spray it over the paper.
  • Ask them to draw different patterns as they wish.

23. Pretend dishwashing

We’ve said enough about how much kids like to imitate the grown-ups. This is another such activity that would excite kids.

You will need

Water containers, sponges, liquid soap, kids’ kitchen set, and a towel.

How to play

  • Fill two containers with water and add liquid soap to one container.
  • Give the kitchen set to your kids.
  • Ask them to clean vessels in the liquid soap water and then in the plain water.
  • Once they’re done with all the vessels, they can wipe them clean with the towel.

24. Glue bottle water transfer

If you want to improve your kids’ fine motor strength, this is an exciting activity involving empty glue bottles.

You will need

Empty glue bottles, a water container, small plastic cups.

How to play

  • Fill the water container with water.
  • Give the glue bottles to your little ones.
  • Ask them to fill the glue bottles by dipping them in water and squeezing them.
  • Once the bottles are filled, they need to empty them in the plastic cups placed next to the container.
  • They need to repeat it until all the cups are filled.

Squeezing the glue bottles to fill and empty them needs a lot of muscle strength. Involving kids in these kinds of activities helps strengthen their muscles in the hands, arms, and wrist making it easy for them to hold pencils while writing.

25. Water gun learning activity

Here is a learning activity that includes water.

Image: iStock

You will need

Water guns, chalk, or window markers.

How to play

  • If you’re using window markers, write something your kids are familiar with, say letters or numbers on each window pane. If you’re using chalk, you can do the same on any wooden floor or stone flooring.
  • Now call out one of the letters or the numbers you have written and ask your kids to aim from a distance and blast the water gun on it. They need to completely erase the letters to complete the activity.

Benefits Of Playing In The Water For Babies And Kids

You may worry that water play could create a mess, or that your child might catch a cold when they play with water. However, water play could be beneficial when indulged in moderately and occasionally.

  • Water games could help develop a child’s sensory skills.
  • Activities like lifting a mug of water, filling bottles, etc. also help hand-eye coordination and fine and gross motor skills.
  • Holding objects like containers, sponges, spray bottles, etc. can strengthen their hand muscle, enabling them to hold the pencil and write well later.
  • Water play allows them to explore and find creative ways to solve problems.
  • Kids learn about water and its various forms like ice and mist.
  • Learn new words related to water, ocean, and aquatic creatures.
  • Group water activities can teach them about team play and cooperation.

As mentioned above, water play is a fantastic free play activity for your kids when planned properly. You can plan these activities in the summertime to beat the heat as well as the boredom. Try these activities as they are or tweak them to suit your preferences. Either way, your child will surely have fun.

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Dr. Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri

(MD)
Dr. Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri, popularly referred to as ‘The Celebrity Shrink,’ is an award-winning neuro-psychiatrist and mental health advocate with over 15 years experience. She is the medical director and psychiatrist-in-chief at Pinnacle Medical Services. She has created the innovative mental health app in Africa, HOW BODI. Dr. Kadiri is a Goldman Sachs Scholar on Entrepreneurial Management of Pan Atlantic... more

Harshita Makvana

Harshita is a graduate in commerce and holds a PG Diploma in Patent and Copyrights Law from NALSAR University. She has also pursued CA and has more than three years of internship experience in auditing. Her love for travelling has taken her to various parts of the world, and writing the travelogues was what brought out her love for content writing.... more