Water Table Activities for Toddlers

Water Table Activities for Toddlers

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How to use a water table as a sensory table for your young children so you can enjoy water play activities in the summer and keep your busy toddler happy with simple fun.

Summer has here, which means bright days and summer heat, so it’s time to dust off that water table in the outdoor learning area and put it to good use!

It’s time to cool off with some water play now that the heat has returned.

What is Water Play?

Water table activities are a fun way for kids to play and explore. Setting up a small world at a water table is a great idea that provides hours of fun for kids. A bucket of water, a cup of water, or even warm bath water in the tub can be used as a water source.

Adding different colors with food coloring, cookie sheets, and kitchen sinks to the mix can add extra fun and creativity to the play. Dramatic play is also possible, making it a great addition to their imaginative play.

Dish soap and drops of food coloring can add to the fun, making it a fantastic play activity for curious kids. With close supervision, water play can provide hours of entertainment and is a wonderful activity for children of all ages, including older children who can enjoy activities like rainbow rice or playing with squeeze bottles and small objects with a slotted spoon.

Children like playing with the tools close to a high water table, as well as getting into the container and immersing themselves in the water while playing.

How to Set Up a Water Play Area for Preschoolers and Toddlers

Here are some guidelines for your water table ideas:

  • There aren’t any regulations at all. You’ll only need a water play table or container, as well as some tools or utensils.
  • To fully encourage your child’s creativity, try using different containers and provide a choice of tools and toys.
  • On a warm day, children can play barefoot and in light clothing; on a chilly or wet day, set up an indoor water table on an elevated surface (aprons required) or in the bath.
  • At least once a week, try to have a water play day.

Water Play Ideas for Kids

All you need for a great water play session is a lot of room, time, and water.

You may just provide any of the aforementioned equipment or containers, or you can implement one of these ideas in your sand water tables to make water time a success!

For toddlers and preschoolers, here are some fun and creative indoor and outdoor water play ideas.

Alphabet Soup

Create a fun alphabet soup activity by filling the water table with warm water and adding letters or numbers cut from a cookie sheet for kids to find and practice their ABCs and 123s.

Lily Pads

Create a pond-like environment by placing lily pads (made from foam or fabric) on top of the water and allowing kids to jump from one pad to the next.


Give your child some straws and a tiny container of dishwashing liquid. Rather than using soap to prepare the water, let your youngster figure out how much soap is required and how to form bubbles with the straws.

Ice Play

Playing with ice and learning about the qualities of water when frozen or warmed up is one of the most enjoyable water activities for toddlers.

Ice cubes or crushed ice are fun. Make some ice in your ice cube trays or another plastic container. Food coloring can be added to the ice to see what happens as it melts in the water, and if you really want to get creative you can freeze toy cars or pom poms.


Messy sensory play is a great way to have a good time. Allow your child to experiment with powdered or liquid paint and see what they come up with.

Food Coloring

As the food colouring falls into the water, it forms gorgeous shapes and patterns. Using an eyedropper, drop it into the water and swirl it around, or mix it up and watch the water colour change. Add a third colour to check if the colours blend.


Fill the outdoor water table or trough with sand and let your youngster make mud pies. Offer a tub of dry sand and a jug of water as a variation, and let your youngster play with slowly pouring the water until the proper consistency is reached.

To build forms out of the sand, provide cups and moulds.

Sink and Float

Give your youngster a variety of objects to test to determine which ones float and which sink. Corks, little plastic ducks, boats, pebbles, pennies, and ping-pong balls are all good ideas.


Play with water-filled balloons. On a hot day, you may either be courageous and hurl them at each other, or put a chalk mark outdoors and aim and toss the balloons, seeing who’s balloon hits the mark closest.

Loose Parts Of Nature

Natural materials are a favourite among children. Leaves, flowers, grass, bark, twigs, pine cones, and other natural materials can be added to the water table. With this intriguing collection of natural delights, you can see which materials float and which sink, watch water wash over a pine cone, and learn about the principles of water.

** I like to go to the dollar store and pick up little trinkets such as rubber ducks, small toys, plastic cups, and other sensory materials to let the kids get their creative play in and benefit children’s development.

Benefits of Water Play in Early Childhood

Why is water play vital, and how does it benefit children’s development?

Water is a wonderful material that is just as educative as sand. Sand and water play have several advantages in early infancy.

And it never gets old for the kids!

This simple practise improves abilities in all four important developmental areas:

  • Social
  • Emotional
  • Cognitive (intellectual)
  • Physical

Gross and Fine Motor Skills

Early infancy is critical for the development of fine and gross motor skills. Children must learn to manage both large and tiny muscles, and what better way to do so than to have fun?

Water play is a simple technique for toddlers and preschoolers to develop physical abilities.

Pouring, dumping, filling, dipping, splashing, mixing, squirting, squishing, and squeezing are all excellent methods to practise these movements.


When youngsters are playing with water, they are prone to become completely immersed in the activity and spending extended periods of time investigating and playing with it. This encourages youngsters to concentrate, and any activity that keeps a child’s attention for a long period of time will help them develop a longer attention span.

It’s Science!

Water play also helps youngsters to get a hands-on familiarity with science ideas. Early physics is taught to children by observing the characteristics of water, such as:

  • Water makes sand heavier
  • Water influences the texture of the sand as you add more water or let it dry
  • Water falls through space (e.g. through a sieve)
  • Air (wind) moves water 
  • Water is a liquid because it pours
  • Water takes the shape of the container it is poured into
  • Water always runs downhill
  • Water can turn from solid to liquid (when warm) and back to solid again (in the freezing cold)
  • Some items float on water and others sink

Language Skills

As a youngster encounters new situations and learns to express and comprehend what he is doing, his vocabulary expands. Children develop new vocabulary when they play with water and various tools, toys, and containers, as well as the behaviours they are undertaking.

They also like theatrical play near the water table, which is beneficial to language development and sentence construction.

Some new terms and concepts that kids might learn include:

  • Spade
  • Funnel
  • Shovel
  • Sieve
  • Eye-dropper
  • Water wheel
  • Pour
  • Swish
  • Squirt
  • Squeeze
  • Splash
  • Empty
  • Full
  • More
  • Less
  • Equal

Strengthens Social Skills

When children play with their peers or siblings, they become more animated, boisterous, and agitated. They also deal with disputes on a regular basis.

Water play is one of those activities that tends to soothe children since it is so engrossing and calming that they often engage calmly and play cooperatively for long periods of time.

They learn to share and collaborate as they play together or work toward a common goal, which helps them develop social skills.

Relieves tension

Water, more than any other material, is a relaxing and soothing substance. Pouring, swishing, and squishing around in it is a lot of fun for kids.

It has the ability to hold a child’s attention for lengthy periods of time, which is very beneficial for nervous children.

Actions like squirting water are a good approach for youngsters who are irritated or angry to relieve stress.

Sensory Play

Children learn about the world around them through their senses during their early years. Activities that engage the senses will give excellent learning opportunities during the preschool years.

Water play is a fantastic sort of sensory play that children should be able to engage in on a regular basis.

Pretend Play

Encourage imaginative play by adding water toys like boats, animals, and other small objects to the water table for kids to act out different scenarios and stories.

Cool Ideas

Experiment with different materials, such as dish soap and food coloring, to add new and exciting elements to the water fun.

Simple Activity

Provide a simple but engaging activity by filling the water table with clean water and adding a few water toys for kids to play with. This is a perfect place for young children to practice their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

What Supplies to Use with Your Water Table

  • Water Table
  • Water
  • Rocks
  • Dirt
  • Flowers
  • Sticks
  • Sidewalk Chalk
  • Plastic Cookie Cutters
  • Water Balloons
  • Kitchen Utensils
  • Soapy Water
  • Spray Bottle
  • Turkey Basters

Water tables come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They’re all entertaining and will fit in with all or most of these activities. Try to get a sensory bin with two or more compartments if you want to make miniature worlds in your water table.

See also: 6 Best Water Tables For Kids For The Best Sensory Play Experience


How do you make a water table fun?

Water tables are one of the finest open-ended toys for toddlers and preschoolers since they are intrinsically entertaining. Add fascinating sensory elements as well as a range of toys, including as vehicles, animals, cups, and scoops, to make them more enjoyable. Basically, anything that won’t get harmed by water can go in a water sensory bin!

What can I put in my water table beside water?

The adaptability of water tables is one of their finest features. In a water table, you may use a variety of materials such as water beads, ice cubes, soap foam, shaving cream, beans, grains, flower pebbles, sand, dirt…the choices are unlimited! Common toys like a marble run, plastic animal figurines, or thematic math counters can also be added.

How can I have a water table indoors?

Water tables are also a fantastic addition to any indoor play area. They may be used as a sensory bin when filled with dry objects. Place a big bedsheet, tarp, or tablecloth underneath for simple cleanup and protection of the flooring. You can even make a water bin out of a bathtub! Just be sure that anything you put isn’t so insignificant that it goes down the drain.

Water Table Activities for Toddlers Bottom Line

For my small children, having a water table is fantastic. For toddlers and preschoolers, they give hours of excellent play and learning possibilities. Compiling this list reminded me of many happy times spent with my sons at the water table in the garden, in the playroom, or in the kitchen. We even transform the bathtub into a water sensory bin on occasion!

In every house or classroom, a water table is a must-have for playing. They’re great for all types of sensory play, as well as the development of fine motor skills by scooping and pouring water or squeezing a turkey baster, and colour mixing with an egg beater. They can also be utilised for educational purposes!

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