Young children benefit from sensory play. One sensory experience that kids of all ages spend a good amount of time on is water play. Outside water play like using a water table, running through a sprinkler, or playing in a pool is awesome. However, sometimes you need an indoor activity for times it is too cold outside or you are trying to cook dinner. Here are some of our favorite indoor water play ideas.
Indoor Water Play Ideas
If messy play ideas make you nervous, I’ve got you covered with this clean up hack. Spread out a shower curtain liner in your kitchen (or over any tile). Once the water play is finished, take the toys off of the liner and fold the corners in toward the middle and take it outside to shake the water off and let it dry.
Fill up a few bowls, ice cube trays, or tupperware containers with water and give your child kitchen utensils or water toys to play with. Younger children (and bigger kids too) will spend a long time stirring, scooping, and pouring.
Add a handful of water beads to the water and it adds a fun twist to this water play activity. Always be in close proximity if water beads are included so younger kids do not put them in their mouths.
Tip: Make sure to tell your child to keep the water in the bowls. It won’t ALL stay in the bowls but I made the mistake of not mentioning it and he was just pouring it out onto the shower liner for fun.
Sometimes a quick water activity is what you need. The simple task of transferring the water from one bowl to the other is the perfect challenge. Here we used a turkey baster. You could also use a ladle, large spoon, or a measuring cup to transfer the water.
This is a great game for hand-eye coordination and wrist rotation. We took two plastic cups. On one cup I drew a line with a permanent marker. Then, in the second cup I filled it with water. I made sure to add more water in that cup then would be needed to fill the other cup to the line. Challenge your child to fill the cup as close to the line as possible. Let the whole family try it too. It’s not as easy as you think!
Cold water play is fun too! for this invitation I mixed water and a couple drops of food coloring to make ice cubes. Once the cubes were frozen, I put them all in one bowl. Then I challenged him to use the tongs to catch the ice cubes and transfer them to the other bowl.
Freeze a plastic container of water with small toys inside of it. Put the ice blocks on a baking sheet so there is very little mess. Give your child different tools to try to help the toys escape from the ice. Spray it with warm water, use a pretend saw, or try any tool to chip away at the ice in different ways. Kids love this challenge and finding creative ways to melt the ice.
Older kids will love this ice cube game and experiment. Take turns rolling the dice and looking at the chart to see what to do to the ice cube. It has things like hold it in your hand, drop it in water, sprinkle salt on it, etc. The first person to melt their ice cube is the winner. We had such a good time playing this game together!
More Indoor Water Play Activities
Bring a small baby pool inside. I know that it sound crazy, but you don’t have to put much water in it at all to have a fun sensory experience.
My kids love to play in the kitchen sink! Washing dishes with soapy, warm water and rinsing them is so soothing and calming to them. I’ve even had my kids wash dishes from their play kitchen in the sink.
Get your toy cars and take them through the car wash like they did at Paging Fun Mums. Plastic bins (from the dollar store) are a great way to contain the mess from the water and shaving cream.
Some times the bath tub is the perfect place for water play. There have been days that we have taken multiple baths just for the water play experience. DIY bath toys are the best bath toys because they are inexpensive and easy to change up. The best part is that you can recycle them when you are done. We also love these bath tub games.
I saved a bunch of bottle tops of different sizes for different learning with bottle tops activities. For this particular activity, we drew fish on the tops and threw them into water. He was excited to see that the tops floated. So he went fishing with a slotted spoon. Some of them were hard to catch.
Benefits of Water Play
There are so many benefits to water play! Hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills are strengthened in a fun and authentic way. Creativity and problem solving its at its best when you are playing and moving water. New vocabulary and math concepts are discovered during water play. Communication and teamwork happen during water play with others. Connections in the brain are formed during sensory experiences. It is just so beneficial for so many reasons. Whether you are in the bath tub, using a sensory bin, in a pool, or playing a game with water there are so many benefits and you are learning while you play.