With many long, hot summer days still ahead of us, figuring out what to do with your kiddos while keeping cool is a must. One thing that almost always works to brighten up a ho-hum day? Adding water! Bonus points: while water play is an excellent way to cool down, it also has many developmental benefits for children of all ages. Starting as babies, then toddlers, and on up—playing with water is a sensory experience that helps little ones expand their motor skills, hand-eye coordination, social skills, and concentration. With this in mind, Stacy Keane, head of the Monti Kids Learning Team, breaks down 6 Montessori-inspired water activities for a variety of ages. Read her tips below, grab a towel, and have fun!
Tummy Time with Water
Although it can get messy, introducing a tray of water during tummy time is a great way to get babies comfortable with water play! Lay a large towel down on a flat surface outside and place a cooking tray filled with water on the towel. Set up your baby within arms reach of the water and let them explore the way the cool water feels on their hands. This is also a great way to introduce your little one to the cause and effect of splashing.
Lemon Sensory Bin
A touch of citrus is the perfect addition to your summer sensory bin! Simply add lemon slices to a large tray filled with water and place an empty bowl or tray next to it. Provide your child with a tool to transfer, such as tongs or a scoop, and watch as they transfer lemon slices back and forth.
Try making “nature ice” by gathering flowers and leaves from the garden and placing them into ice cube trays with water overnight. Your youngster will wake up to beautiful ice cubes displaying different types of flowers! This is a great opportunity to introduce your child to nature vocabulary. Ask them, “can you tell me what this flower is?” You can also provide your child with tools containing warm water to warm the ice and release the flowers inside!
Washing toys can be super engaging for young children and is a great way for them to develop practical life skills. For babies and younger toddlers, use a large bucket with soapy water to wash toys. For older toddlers, you can have them stand on a toddler-safe stool at the sink (with supervision of course). Bike washing can also be fun and practical. Offer a small bucket, bar of soap (cut small enough to fit in a child’s hand), rag, and a towel for drying.
A fun variation on the “washing toys” activity is to have your child wash muddy animals! In a large tray mix dirt and a small amount of water to make mud. Place the animal toys inside the mud (could do themes like farm animals or zoo animals) and provide your child with a tray of water and a soapy brush to wash the animals! Your child will enjoy caring for the animals and washing toys is a great way to practice practical skills.
While this may not seem like the most riveting activity to us adults, window washing is a super engaging activity for toddlers! Toddlers love to practice “grown-up” activities, and window washing is an easy and practical skill to learn! Simply fill a spray bottle with soap and water (or your favorite cleaning solution) and let your child scrub away! Manipulating the spray bottle is great fine motor practice and your child will feel accomplished when the windows are squeaky clean.
Malika Pham & family, photographed by Maria Del Rio
For more tips on what to do with your kids this summer, check out these 100+ screen-free ideas.
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