Summer time Fun: 10 Ways to beat the heat and connect with your kids, #2

Ellie and friend Trenam "wash dishes" in our log cabin on a family trip.

Indoor Water Play! – In our Kindermusik summer sessions for babies and toddlers, we spread out a big plastic drop cloth, put a little water in a big aluminum tin, strip down to our diapers, toss in some sponges, duckies, and plastic cups, and watch the learning begin, and the personalities emerge. (There’s always some “go for it” child who climbs directly into the pan and takes a seat, and some who prefer to observe from a distance, quietly chewing on the wet sponge.) For all children, play is “work”. Babies and toddlers play to discover the physical properties of objects, to figure out how things work, and to make things happen. Older children go beyond this to testing theories and manipulating objects for other uses. Water is one of the best “elements” for natural learning to occur, and there’s no reason you can’t do it inside – bath tub and beyond!

Do it in your living room over towels or pull the step-stool up to the sink. (My kids often like to “wash the dishes”, and zoning out with their hands in soapy water while the faucet trickles not only cleans their fingernails, but also has a soothing effect – great activity for fussy-time. I keep a big “go-to” plastic bowl on hand specifically for this activity – with plastic measuring spoons and cups, old breast milk storage bottles and caps, a medicine dropper, a funnel, etc.,  and it usually buys me about 10 minutes to get something done.) You can buy a package of those solid-color sponges and cut them into shapes. “Wash, wash, wash” different body parts. “Tummy, tummy, tummy” or “toes, toes, toes”. (Find ways to use patterns in your play with babies and toddlers to make the connections stronger in their  pattern-seeking brains.) Submerge pop beads to show “bubble, bubble, bubble…drip, drip drip.”  Sing “This is the way we wash our hands” (or wash our arms, etc.) – my favorite “piggy-back” song for changing the words for any situation.

For your pre-schoolers: Have boat races with tupperware, or duck races with you know, ducks.  Or see what happens when you put ________ in the water (paper, plastic, wood, cotton ball, cardboard, wash cloth – Does it float? Does it absorb or repel the water? How long does it take to become saturated? Can you squeeze the water out?) Add a little food coloring to different containers of water, and do some color-mixing experiments. Be intentional about calling them “science experiments” to get them excited about this subject!

2-yr-old MJ plays with the "Foamerator"

Foamerator idea: this is a simple project that will provide lots of fun inside or outside. cut the bottom end off of an empty water bottle, place a wash cloth or rag over the end and fasten with a rubber band. Dip it in dish-soap water, and blow air through the opening – you’ll be amazed at the foamy snake that emerges. (Just make sure to inhale with your mouth away from the bottle.)

Hey friends, what do you say? Let’s play in the water today!

Let me know...what’s your child’s favorite indoor water activity?


  1. Water Play says:

    […] is another of my posts on water play, Indoor Water Play, with more ideas for […]