Babies and children all over the world delight in playing with water – it’s unique features and texture are fascinating to explore through seeing, touching, splashing, swishing, and sometimes tasting. Figuring out how other objects interact with water are not only compelling, it is excellent for building a foundation of experiences for scientific learning.
In our Kindermusik summer adventures, we are enjoying water play themes, especially Beach Days for families, and Peek-a-Boo for babies. Water play themes also sometimes include props, like the fish shakers in the picture. We are singing “All the fish are swimming in the water.” as this little girl swims around and around her daddy. The song will be used quite differently in the bathtub, but the physical experiences in class make way for more creative play when they get in the tub.
Of course, that means we have some fun songs to go along with our water play. Many of these activities are perfect for bath time, as well as outside with a bucket of water, or a small backyard baby pool.
One of my favorite bath time memories as a child is when my mom taught me how to swish the water with my hands to make it swirl around me, with one hand moving the water forward and the other hand moving it backward. This helped me pass the time waiting for it to fill, as well as feeling the cause and effect of adding warmer or cooler water and feeling the temperature change as it swirled around me. Both of my children have loved this as well, as we sang:
- Row, Row Row your boat, gently down the stream,
- Merrily Merrily, Merrily Merrily, life is but a dream.
We also enjoyed making up new verses for each stage of the bath time. Try making one of your own.
- Scrub, Scrub, Scrub and clean, from my head down to my toes,
- Wash away the dirt and germs. Now I am clean, it shows !
- Play, play, play and splash, baths are fun times too.
- Floating, singing, splashing, laughing, make a silly hair do.
Water play is also a great way to use words and touch as you clean your young child’s body parts. We use several familar tunes for this:
Tune: Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
- This is the way we wash our FEET, wash our TOES, wash our HEELS.
- This is the way we wash our feet, so early in the morning.
Tune: I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right out of my Hair
- I’m gonna wash that dirt right outta my hair.
- I’m gonna wash that dirt right outta my hair.
- I’m gonna wash that dirt right outta my hair.
- And send it down the drain.
Play with the words, but also try:
- I’m gonna scrub that foot all over the place…
- And wash that dirt away. (add body parts)
Peekaboo games can also be enjoyed by having the adult, or older child, peek out from behind either side of the washcloth or big sponge. Enjoy making up words for what you are doing with a familiar tune. I found this picture on a well written article about playing with babies in the bath and the benefits to their language skills.
- Where is mommy? Where is mommy?
- Can you find me? Can you find me?
- I can peek and see you. I can peek and see you.
- You found me. You found me.
And it may be fun to cover two different toys with a wash cloth each and encourage the child to FIND the specific toy. Toys can even be placed inside the duck mitt for an extra puzzle to solve. Or tuck the duck mitt under their leg… Or with two or more objects under cloths:
- Where is the fish? Where is the fish?
- Under where? Under where?
- I know you can find it. Yes, you can find it.
- You found the fish. You found the fish.
Enjoying more water play outside with a bucket of water or baby pool.
Water play can also be enjoyed outside with a bucket of water or baby pool. In our babies Peek-a-boo classes, we used little tubs with just a wee bit of water in the bottom. The babies were delighted as we used wash cloths and/or sponges to dip in the water and rub or drip on our baby’s skin, naming body parts along with each verse of our song, “Toes, Toes, anything goes. Dip them in the water and wiggle those toes.”
Then we “Blow away the morning dew“, which offers a unique sensation for baby, especially when the rest of their body is NOT in the water. This wetness is a whole different field of exploration for their sense of touch. After trying out just one thing at a time, consider providing different types and sizes of cloths, sponges, wash mitts, and other items that soak up water.
The sponges and wash clothes can also be used to soak in the water, then make wet spots (painting with water) on a piece of an opened paper grocery bag, or cement of a sidewalk or driveway. Explore how much water is needed on the sponge – try dabbing or sliding it on the surface. Some children may even enjoy “washing” the car or the house with their washcloth or sponge, which is also a style of painting with water, although it will not result in a clean car :). Try out new words to fit this situation using the song melodies above. can soak up water – what about paintbrushes?
Parents can keep a steady beat while chanting, “Scrub, Scrub, Scrub (rest) (2x) I see Lisa scrub, scrub, scrub.” repeatedly while their child is scrubbing. Make sure to use their name. When they change their action, change the word. “Pat, pat, pat…” “Swish, swish, swish…” Just label what they are doing, and watch the smiles… and their efforts to show off something new and get recognized. Parents may need to encourage younger children to try different things. For example, “I’m sure you can show me how to bounce the sponge on the ground… Bounce, Bounce, Bounce…” then watch to see if they do it on their own, or if they need assistance to make that movement. There are so many benefits:
- Hearing this steady beat helps them organize their movements in a unique way, regardless of whether they are making a steady beat.
- Your action words gives them the label for what they are doing.
- And your enthusiastic attention reinforces the image of themselves as someone who is very capable, and worthy of watching. They sure like that !!!
There are many different textures with sponges, most effectively demonstrated by taking a trip to Tarpon Springs, FL, where you can go to the Spongorama Sponge Museum, esp. good for older children. Some sponges have HARD textures until they get wet, then they are soft. It is TOTALLY fascinating to explore so many different textures and shapes. Hands ON exploration is allowed, but supervise carefully to avoid mouth exploration, until taken home and boiled for about 20 min. I recommend getting three different types of sponges to purchase and explore at home.
Consider making wet footprints on the paper, on the driveway, or try different surfaces. Draw a chalk line around the footprint and check them over time to watch them disappear. It may be surprising how quickly that happens. Older children may enjoy this chant while making footprints:
“Walk, walk and never stop until your wet feet don’t flip flop.” (make footprints)
Then change the way the footprints are made, what does a run look like? how about two feet jumping? I’m sure you and your child can come up with more.
More Water Activities and Toy ideas
- Soak and Squeeze: sponges, washcloths, etc.
- Fill & Pour: using cups, spoons, ladle, funnels, tubes, watering can, sieve, sifter
- Fill & Spray / Squirt: using squirty fish, spray bottles, etc.
- Float: ping pong balls, corks, boats, ICE
- Sink: rubber balls, plastic characters
- Mix: bowl & spoon; egg beater for older children
- Suck: eye dropper, meat baster
- Blow: straw, tubes
Songs: Piggy Back, and New
Some of the songs on this page refer to Kindermusik songs in our different curricula. Many of these songs are actually what are called piggy back songs, because new words are piggy backed onto familiar children’s melodies. I had fun making these up as I played with my children in the bath, so don’t get too caught up in the actual words. Feel free to play around with the words to match the actions of your child. It doesn’t even really have to rhyme !
One of the things I liked best about Kindermusik as a young mom, is that I learned new songs and melodies. I had grown quite tired of the songs I already knew… and I already knew a LOT. So I was thrilled to learn the new songs and activity ideas from our Kindermusik experiences – songs that really worked into the daily routines, and fit most every situation. That is one of the reasons I have loved teaching over the last 14 years… I know songs for almost every topic of everyday life, and I LOVE to share them with families, along with how beneficial it can be for our children.
This Summer and Fall’s themes include a lot of water themed play in several of our classes. Beach Days for families, of course is filled with imaginative water play. Our Time “Wiggles and Giggles” includes the bath time book “Pete and PJ” and a lot of fun water themes, such as bath time, boats, fish and more. Imagine That for preschoolers features “See What I Saw” about the many activities that can be enjoyed at a city park, including watching the different types of boats on the water. Even the older Young Child students use instruments as sound effects for our storm stories. It is the easiest way to learn new music and fun new ways to engage your child – so let’s play together in Kindermusik !
- Adult supervision is critical when playing with water because it is so easy for water to prevent a child from breathing, and they do not know how to react to stop it.
- Please be careful not to place a dripping wet washcloth fully over the baby’s face, as this can be scary and make it hard for them to breath (or they might THINK it does, and hold their breath). I learned that the hard way with my first child and he was scared of water for a long time.
- Also, sponges are EXCELLENT texture toys for the bath, but please keep in mind that playing with these items babies must be supervised, as many babies can “bite” off a piece, causing a choking hazard.
- Make sure to throw the wash cloths, mitts, and sponges into the next load of hot washed clothes to prevent bacteria from growing and spreading to your child.
- Dump out any standing water outside regularly so it does not become a breading ground for mosquitoes or bacteria.
Have a wet and wonderful time. AND PLEASE SHARE if you have ideas for water play with your baby or young child.
– Debbie Mondale – Music Connections in Lakeland and Winter Haven Florida.