Fun with Water: Activities to Keep Kids Entertained

Suggested Books and ‘Ingredients’ for Play

  • Come Away From the Water Shirley by John Burningham
  • The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher by Beatrix Potter
  • Big Sarah’s Little Boots by Paulette Bourgeois
  • Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by Jon Burningham
  • Who sank the Boat by Pamela Allen

You will find also these things useful:

A paddling pool outside, or a plastic bowl in the sink inside.

A variety of jars (plastic for safety), measuring cups, spoons, squeeze bottles, funnel, scoop, eye dropper, straws, plastic tubing, things that float, things that sink.

Let’s Have Some Fun

Using a container of water, either inside or outside, ‘feel’ the water. Is it warm? Cold? Smooth? Rough?

Supply things that float and things that sink. Have your child tell you what happened to each.

Supply containers of various shapes and sizes. Have your child pour water from one to the other. How many times must you pour the small container into the big container?

(Verbalizing, describing, experimenting, cause and effect, estimation, volume and capacity concepts)

Put a mark on a margarine tub close to the rim. Fill the tub with water up to that mark. Now invite your child to gently drop small objects (pebbles, shells) into the tub. How many does it take to overflow?

(Water displacement)

Add Kool-Aid or drink crystals to a glass of water. What happens? Experiment with salt, sugar, jello powders, baking soda.

(cause and effect, experimenting, hypothesizing)

Mix up a container of water and dish washing liquid (add some glycerine for super bubbles). Use cardboard tubes, wire hoops, bubble pipes and have a great time blowing bubbles. Count how many float after each blow. Which ones go highest? For more bubble fun add food coloring to the water. NB This should only be used outside as the coloring may stain indoor surfaces

(comparing, counting)

Make your own indoor pond. Put water in a shallow dish and then invite your child to cut out fish shapes from old plastic placemats or sponges. Add stones.

(small muscle co-ordination, creativity)

Make boats to float from styrofoam trays or milk cartons. Add sails of paper threaded on to a drinking straw.

(creating, imagining)

Use Lego or Duplo blocks to build a boat. Challenge your child to make one that will hold small plastic animals or toys.

(water displacement, creating)

Magic Tricks

Push a tissue into a small glass. Turn the glass upside down and plunge it into a dish of water. Take the glass out. Hey! Presto! The tissue is completely dry.

(The glass is full of air – the water cannot push the air out and so the tissue remains dry).

Take a margarine tub with a tight-fitting lid. Use a pin and make some holes in the bottom of the tub. Take off the lid and push the tub into a bowl of water. Now put on the lid. Lift the tub out of the water. No water running out of the holes in the bottom of the tub! Push a knitting needle or scissors point through the lid to make a hole. Watch the water come through the holes in the bottom of the tub. Put your finger over the hole in the lid to stop the water!!

(Air pushes against the holes in the bottom of the tub and so the water cannot get out. When air is let in at the top, the air helps to push the water out below).

Want to Have a Really Great Time?

After, or even during, a rain storm, dress yourselves in waterproof boots and coats and go outside to find the biggest puddles. Jump over them, around them, step carefully through them, and then jump into them and SPLASH!!


  • Water. Child Education Magazine, August 1992
  • Author’s own experiences