Splish, splash, splosh!
Having written a blog earlier today on the importance of Mud Play, I started to think more about our outdoor area, and what areas the children love the best, and what skills are being developed.
I am sure you would agree that water just attracts children like magnets! As soon as my own two kidlets see water, they have an instant need to strip off and jump in! (Oh to be 6 years old again!)
Water play, both indoor and outdoor, is a unique activity for children because it’s always available, open-ended, and provides endless opportunities for extended learning.
Rub a dub dub
So they’re just splashing, and throwing water right? Nope, not at all the children within our settings are doing much more than this. Water play encourages learning in all developmental areas. It provides opportunities for children to experiment with maths and science concepts, it helps strengthen their physical skills, advances their social and emotional skills, and also contributes greatly to their language development.
So what are they doing exactly?
Communication and Language:- Children are constantly using and learning new words such as sieve, funnel, eggbeater, stream, bubbly, moisture, and evaporation. They will verbalise what is happening before them, and the experiences they encounter. For those of you that are familiar with my blog, I am a firm believer in spoken language leading into written. This may in the first instance simple drawings, then leading to mark making, letter formation, and developing into words and then sentences. It’s crucial to provide mark making tools (chalks, paint brushes, pencils, chunky pens, felts tips etc) in every area of the classroom/outside area so children can mark make and explore.
Children may draw pictures of sprinkler play, then dictate a description or story to the teacher. Another valuable writing experience involves the teacher writing down children’s predictions, such as how long it will take ice cubes to melt in the sand box or how many babies one batch of soapy water will wash.
Physical Development:- Water play encourages the development of eye/hand coordination through pouring, squeezing, whisking, carrying, stirring, painting, scrubbing, and squirting. Children strengthen their gross motor skills by running, dodging water drops, and hopping through sprinklers. They widen their sensory experiences as they put their hands in different textures (gritty, squishy, and slimy) and different temperatures (warm, cool, and cold)
Personal, Social, Emotional Development . Water play is one of the most relaxing activities children can experience. Lots of children who struggle with behaviour problems, or have additional needs often find comfort and release during water play. After all, many adults relax in a warm bubble bath or hot shower! Water play relieves tension by encouraging children to release their emotions with pouring, pounding, and swooshing. In addition, social skills expand as children play cooperatively; negotiate; and share equipment, space, and materials. Expressive Art and Design:- Water encourages children to use their imagination. As the children play, they may pretend that they work at a car wash or live in a castle. The water will become anything their wild imaginations will allow… perfume, lotions, potions, tea, soup, milk shake, squash, etc etc etc Water encourages children to try out new ideas and solutions to problems in a safe environment. Problem-Solving Skills. As children manipulate water play materials, they begin to understand why and how things happen. For example, given sinking and floating objects, a child will soon discover that just because something is large in size does not mean it will sink
Maths:- Children begin to understand and experiment with concepts such as more/less, same/different, many/few, empty/full, before/after, greater than/less than, and counting. Understanding The World:- What makes rain? What makes mud? Where does rain come from? Where does water come from? What happens when Ice melts? How can you make ice melt quicker? These are questions that children can think about and begin to solve using water in their play. They can investigate how water flows, how to make it flow quicker/slower, how to stop the water from oozing out of holes etc etc etc The opportunities are pretty endless! I will always remember one day vividly in my FS2 class earlier this year when it was pouring down outside. I asked the class who wanted to come outside, and had a lovely large group of excited little duckies that wanted to go and splash in muddy puddles (Just like Peppa!) We encourage ALL children to bring wellies and wet weather gear into school so to make the best out of these fab learning experiences. Off we went into our garden, before long a couple of children had made their way to our digging area, which is obviously full of mud. It just so happened that where it had been raining there were huge huge deep puddles. The small group that had initially gone to that area were soon joined by the rest of the group, trying to create a bridge to get across the “River” with out being eaten by the “crocodiles” The group began to work methodically as a team, issuing jobs and roles to each member of the group. What I found fascinating was children who are usually quite quiet and reserved within the setting taking on leadership roles, and calmly encouraging others. I heard amazing language of support and encouragement. Language far greater and more developed than I could have ever “Taught” in a focused session on the carpet. This was one of those observations that actually gave me tingles, and a warmfuzzy feeling in my tummy, you know the one? Yep thought so! Water play is a crucial part of everyday continuous provision in our setting- is it in yours?
(Photo's taken from google images- they are not owned by EYFSMatters)