by Alix Tonsgard

Few children can resist the draw to play in water, and who can blame them. Water is fascinating, fun, and multifaceted. Maybe it’s the way the light reflects off the surface, the way that it seems to mysteriously move, or the innate desire to answer the question “what will happen if I…” that lures children into those puddles. Regardless of the motivation, this natural pull clearly demonstrates the theories of modern cognitive psychologists Piaget and Vygotsky regarding the child’s innate drive to make sense of the world and the things in it.

By jumping in that puddle or splashing in the sink, your child is working to actively construct an understanding of the properties of water and so much more. Water play promotes problem-solving and thinking skills in general, but also presents open-ended opportunities to experiment with math and science concepts, strengthen physical skills, advance social and emotional skills, and enhance language development.

Water Play at Home

You can make your own water table with a plastic storage bin. Here are some items you might consider letting your child explore: measuring cups, sponges, basters, bowls, funnels, spray bottles, and more.

Support Critical Thinking

Ask questions and make comments to spark curiosity and engagement.

  • What happened when you put that in the water? Why do you think that happened?
  • I noticed that you …
  • I wonder what would happen if … ?
  • How did/could you . . . ?
  • What’s similar/different about these?
  • Why do you think this works?

The Museum recently opened our newest exhibit AWEsome Water, and we are very excited to show it off, so of course, a trip to the Museum can be a fun way to explore the powers and properties of water. Happy splashing!
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Alix Tonsgard is an early learning specialist at the DuPage Children’s Museum.