In the heat of summer you may want nothing more than to jump in a pool or run through a sprinkler, but that’s not the only way to have fun with water. If you have little kids, why not build them a water table? It’s a great way for them to cool off and work on fine motor skills while they’re at it.
There are lots of fancy water tables available today, but it’s easy to make your own, too. All you need is a big rubber bin and some water. But if you want it to be at standing height, this DIY version—created using PVC piping and a rubber bin—works too. My husband built one for our two-year-old a few weeks ago and so far it’s a success!
Develop fine motor skills through water play
You may remember water tables being a popular staple in preschool and kindergarten classrooms when you were a kid yourself. There’s good reason for that and here’s why they endure: water play is a fun way to develop motor skills through discovery and experimentation. The actions of pouring, squirting, scrubbing, stirring, and squeezing help children work on fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
By picking up and maneuvering different objects, they also practice various grips, such as the pincer grip, while feeling different textures with their hands. It’s a full-on sensory experience. Water tables are also good for learning to problem-solve (why does one thing float and something else sink?), socialize, and work with others—all key skills for eventually being part of a team.
Make use of everyday items
The good thing with water tables is that you can put just about anything in them for kids to scoop, pour, and squirt with. From buckets to utensils that sink and balls that float, all you need is a little imagination and the toy possibilities are endless.
Here’s just a few household items that are great for water play:
- Beach toys, such as buckets, shovels, sieves
- Plastic cups
- Empty yogurt containers, or from any other food product
- Empty shampoo bottles
- Squirt toys, such as the small plastic animal bath toys
- Small plastic balls
- Small rocks or pebbles
- Measuring cups
- Plastic utensils
- Spray bottles
- Watering can
So grab a rubber bin and give it a shot. The splashing and smiles are sure to make for one cool experience this summer.