Even in my morning preschool class, the sun warms our backs as we play and learn outside, and after having been put away for the winter, my preschoolers were very excited to see the reappearance of our water bin. Full of green water beads, this scooping and pouring water bin was the perfect way to enjoy with warmer weather.
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Water play is so inviting to children. I’ve never met a preschooler who could resist even the most simple water bin. This bin was pretty darn simple, but the developmental practice that took places sometimes difficult to replicate in other activities.
- large water table(I have this cement mixing tub).
- water beads
- small plastic shot glasses (preferably clear)
- small plastic tubes glasses (preferably clear)
- small scoops (I used formula scoops).
Scooping and Pouring with Water Beads
There are several advantages to using water beads in a scooping and pouring activity. First, when immersed in water, the children have to use all their coordination to fill their scoops and pour the beads into a cup or tube. Second, the weight of the water beads are sometimes helpful for those children who struggle with the basic skill of scooping and then twisting the wrist to pour.
As the children played, they watched the water beads grow. Using bother the plastic cups and the tubes they learned about capacity as the filled them to the brim, only to find that they didn’t hold the exact same number of scoops, and fo course even that discovery was dependent on whether or not the scoops were filled all the way. That was another challenge for some of the children.
As the children scooped and poured, not only were they practicing fine motor skills that are needed in everyday life skills, but they were also learning many different math and science concepts. The above photo demonstrates how the movement of water is affected by other materials.
This student filled his plastic tube with water and then carefully dropped water beads into it, one by one, and watched them fall. How long they took to fall through the water and to the bottom seemed to depend on how big they had become. He held the tube up to the sun and counted the water beads he had collected.
Why Include Water Play
While this water bin was clearly designed for fine motor development, that is just one skill children learn through water play. It strengthens hand muscles and coordination, in addition to helping develop social skills. Not to mention the science and math concepts children gain through water exploration.
When children are allowed to play with materials in a water tub, they explore concepts of movement and flow, density and measurement, and even of plant and animal life. Not only does water respond when we play in it, but our bodies respond to being in water. Preschoolers discover they get wet, that the water temperature may vary and that too much time spent in water leads to pruney hands. A shallow water bin is a great place for children to learn problem-solving skills of how and why things happen.
Of course, like any other preschool activity, water play should always be supervised by a responsible adult, even if the bin is filled with the most shallow water.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.