10 Water sensory play ideas for toddlers to do this summer - Kid Activities with Alexa (2024)

Water sensory play is one of my favorite activities to entertain toddlers. Every toddler sensory class I do, I make sure to have a water sensory play idea ready for them. It allows them to clean up after our messy play and engage in some water fun!

Water play is a play that involves water as well as using tools such as buckets, containers, and toys, etc. that allow children to splash, scoop, pour, submerge and explore their senses.

All of these ideas can be used on your water table or using a plastic bon or kiddy pool.

Not only does water play engage children’s sense of fun and delight, but it also has a range of benefits for children’s physical and social development.

Benefits of Water sensory play

  • Water play develops hand-eye coordination
  • Water play introduces maths and scientific concepts
  • Water play enhances concentration and focus
  • Water play develops motor skills and sensory exploration
  • Water play builds social and communication skills

Water sensory play Ideas

10 Water sensory play ideas for toddlers to do this summer - Kid Activities with Alexa (1)

Spice up your water sensory bin by adding water, some baby shampoo and creating bubbles with a hand mixer or electric mixer. We used the hand mixer and added some scented bath bubble bath soap to create bubbles that lasted longer during play.

5 little Ducks Sensory Bin

10 Water sensory play ideas for toddlers to do this summer - Kid Activities with Alexa (2)

When your are short on time you can add some bath toys and water to create a song inspired sensory bin. We added a few (5 drops) of blue food coloring and to turn the water a light blue. Then added 5 rubber duckies and sang 5 little ducks as we played with the water and splashed around.

Note: Remember to seal bath toys squirting hole to prevent water getting inside. Water inside can create mold and can he hazardous if consumed or sprayed into eyes. We use a hot glue gun to seal the holes before playing.

Water science Experiment

10 Water sensory play ideas for toddlers to do this summer - Kid Activities with Alexa (3)

A bowl of water and a few toys will offer you the perfect science experiment. Experiments such as sink or float is an activity that is easy to set up yet offers tons of learning opportunities. Be ready to repeat this activity over and over again as it a favorite for toddlers.

Note: Use a clear container to see throughout and explore those objects that sink down.

Ocean Sensory Bin

10 Water sensory play ideas for toddlers to do this summer - Kid Activities with Alexa (4)

Create an ocean theme by adding ocean animal figurines food coloring and a teaspoon of cornstarch. Cornstarch makes the water thicker and not as translucent so animals that hide under water disappear and the child has to use their sense of touch to find them.

Scooping activity

10 Water sensory play ideas for toddlers to do this summer - Kid Activities with Alexa (5)

Scooping skills is something every toddler needs to practice over and over again. This eye-hand coordination and control if hand muscles is a great pre-writing skill. Use measuring cups, a large container and small toys to scoop up and rescue.

Texture Water Bin

10 Water sensory play ideas for toddlers to do this summer - Kid Activities with Alexa (6)

Adding different textures to a water bin provides sensory exploration and cognitive development as they see how each item reacts to being wet. Do some repel water? absorb water? Bounce? sink? it looks simple but it is a great learning experiment for toddlers to explore.

Color Mixing Water Experiment

10 Water sensory play ideas for toddlers to do this summer - Kid Activities with Alexa (7)

Create 3 water bowls mixed with food coloring. Do one yellow, one red, and one blue. Offer cups of different sizes and encourage your child to mix the colors to create new ones. Yellow and red will make orange. Blue and red will make purple. Yellow and blue will make green.

Eye-Hand Coordination with Balls

Fill up a kid pool or container with water and balls. Provide your child with two measuring cups and encourage her to scoop the balls and transfer them around.

10 Water sensory play ideas for toddlers to do this summer - Kid Activities with Alexa (8)

Funnels, Big/small containers play

10 Water sensory play ideas for toddlers to do this summer - Kid Activities with Alexa (9)

This one doesn’t have a cute name but just adding some color water in a pitcher and providing different tools to pour the water around makes for a fun day with water. We placed a large container under all the tools to catch any water that didn’t make into the funnel or was splashed around. After all, this eye-hand coordination can be tricky for some. As they lift the different containers with water they are strengthening their hands, fingers and precision skills.

Melting Ice with Salt

And for our last water based activity we are melting ice with warm water and ice. Perfect for a hot summer day when the sun helps speed up the process of melting as well as the salt.

I colored the salt in a bag with a few drops of food coloring and mixing it around. Then gave them small spoons to sprinkle the salt over the ice. This is another great eye-hand coordination skill.

Note: Place the salt on the left and the bin on the right. This will work on a left-right motion of the hand;a mimic to writing later on making this activity a per-writing skill water based activity.

10 Water sensory play ideas for toddlers to do this summer - Kid Activities with Alexa (10)

Last Thoughts

Water is a favorite activity for many toddlers. Take advantage of hot summer days to create different water based activities. Use ice, food coloring and lots of different size containers to create different learning experiences. Let the child dictate how to investigate with each activity as they are little scientist discovering the world around them. And lastly! have fun!

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10 Water sensory play ideas for toddlers to do this summer - Kid Activities with Alexa (2024)


What can you add to water for sensory play? ›

Fill a tub with water and let your little ones go to town on the blooms. They can stir the water, pull off petals and leaves to sprinkle them in, or simply dip the flowers in and out to see how the water drips from each petal. Bonus: Add a bit of loose glitter to the water for a more mesmerizing visual experience.

How to do water play with a toddler? ›

Investigating water inside:
  1. Play with sponges. Show your toddler how to squeeze out the water, then have them try. ...
  2. Water painting. ...
  3. Bathtime. ...
  4. Ice cube play. ...
  5. Floating and sinking. ...
  6. Paint with water outside. ...
  7. Water play with tools. ...
  8. Splash, sink, float.

What is an example of water play? ›

Water play builds social and communication skills

For example, children may embark on a mission to fill a large tub with water from the water pump, or build a moat in the sandpit, or take turns jumping into the water to see who can make the biggest splash.

What is sensory water play? ›

Whether indoors or outdoors, find a contained space, pour some water into it, then place tools like cups, buckets, containers, and toys into the water. Now your children have a water sensory play space to splash and submerge, scoop and pour, and invent stories that develop their creative imaginations!

What are water sensory activities for autism? ›

Fill a shallow storage container with sand on one side and water on the other, and include things like shells, toy fish and other ocean inspired items. Your autistic foster children will enjoy splashing the water, swirling the sand and playing in their new underwater world.

How do you make a sensory water toy? ›

Put a funnel in the mouth of an empty water bottle and fill it about halfway with sand or rice. Add small toys, like alphabet beads, LEGO blocks, or mini-erasers. Then, fill the rest of the bottle with sand or rice, leaving about an inch of room at the top. This gives the contents room to move around and get mixed up.

What are 4 activities at home that uses water? ›

We use water in our daily lives for activities like bathing, washing clothes and utensils, drinking, etc.

How can I make my toddler drink water fun? ›

Make drinking water fun for your child. Use bendy, silly, or colored straws. Or let your child choose their favorite cups or water bottles. Use water bottles that can be carried anywhere.

What activities use water? ›

The most common water uses include:
  • Drinking and Household Needs.
  • Recreation.
  • Industry and Commerce.
  • Agriculture.
  • Thermoelectricity/Energy.

What is sensory play for toddlers? ›

Sensory play is any activity that stimulates our senses – touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. It helps children interact with and make sense of the world that surrounds them.

How do we play with water? ›

Water Play Activities
  1. Experiment With Walking Water.
  2. Build a Dam and Explore Water Flow. 35 min activity.
  3. Experiment With Water Drops. 15 min activity.
  4. Includes video. ...
  5. Includes video. ...
  6. Build an Aqueduct. ...
  7. Learn About Measurements With Water Play. ...
  8. Investigate How Objects Sink or Float in Different Types of Water.

What can I put in water for sensory play? ›

We also find cucumber slices and fresh herbs like mint, rosemary, basil, sage and thyme are great for sensory play. They are all also edible and add flavour to the water. You could also try using lavender (the leaves and flowers are edible) or pansies or roses which have edible petals.

What are water beads for sensory play? ›

What are water beads? Made of superabsorbent polymer chemicals, water beads are also known as jelly beads, hydro orbs, crystal soil and gel beads. They are also called sensory beads, used as play tools for children with autism and other developmental conditions.

What is a sensory water bottle? ›

Sensory bottles are bottles that are filled with objects and liquids to create an engaging visual, auditory and tactile sensory experience. They support the development of key skills in babies and toddlers, and they are also used to provide relaxation to children who are feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

How do you thicken water for sensory play? ›

How to create your Wet Baby Sensory Bottle at home: For wet baby sensory bottles, fill your bottle 70% full with water and top up with clear PVA glue, this will create a thicker liquid, which slows down the glitter movement. Next, add your food colouring until your desired colour and begin to get creative!

What are good things to add to water? ›

Add slices of lemon, lime or orange. They add refreshing taste and make your glass look inviting. Infuse water with fresh berries, pineapple or melon. Or freeze bits of fruit in ice cube trays for a more subtle flavor and an interesting look.

What can you put in water for kids? ›

Liven up water by adding a slice of citrus fruit or watermelon. Add a little fruit juice to enhance the flavor. Use frozen fruit instead of ice cubes or freeze fruit in ice cube trays with water. If your children like carbonation, give them sparkling mineral water.

How do you add flavor to water for kids? ›

Make Your Own Flavored Water
  1. Fresh berries, like strawberries or blueberries.
  2. Citrus fruit slices, like lemons, limes, and oranges.
  3. Sliced cucumber or grapes.
  4. Fresh herbs, like mint and basil.
Oct 29, 2022

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