Tip, tip, tipping
While chatting with parents the topic of water play has come up quite a bit lately! “He just loves water! Even the dog bowl!” or “She will spend hours ‘helping’ wash the dishes with me at the sink”. Scooping, tipping and pouring water in and out of a large bucket with various receptacles is a huge hit in the nature play sessions I run, particularly with the smallest members of the group. In fact, I’m yet to meet a child who doesn’t love water in some form! Bath time is a happy place for many babies and toddlers, while some prefer to get their hands into the kitchen sink or splash around in a paddle pool on a hot day.
While I personally try not to put too much emphasis on what a child is learning from an activity (because they are truly learning in every single moment of every day, even while they’re asleep their little minds are busy developing!). However, I do feel it’s worth noting that when children enjoy something they are far more likely to engage and explore what is in front of them. The seemingly simple activity of tipping water creates a joyful opportunity for babies and children to begin to build on a range of skills including problem solving, cause and effect, fine and gross motor skills. It can also be quite relaxing, for children and adults, so a great way to bring some calm into your little person’s day.
And it’s not just water than can create hours of tipping and scooping fun, there are many different ways your little one can explore this activity. Going back to my days of working in childcare I fondly remember many hours spent by the sandpit observing little ones engrossed in the mesmerising action of tipping sand from one bucket to another. You might have a sand pit at home, or a trip to the beach with a bucket and spade is another fantastic way for children to hone their fine and gross motor skills discovering the cool water and grainy, gritty textures of sand.
Water and sand aside, there are still some other options – in fact, you probably have everything you need in the kitchen right now! So next time you’re trying to get dinner cooked or the dishes washed and need something to keep your little one’s hands and mind busy for a moment… grab a bucket, box or large bowl and fill it with fun! Uncooked rice, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas and even flour are perfect opportunities for a quick activity that will keep even the busiest little people occupied. Add in some bits and pieces to encourage the tipping, scooping and pouring action - think spoons, small bowls, cups, jugs, even rinsed out yoghurt containers or other recycled treasures will do the job – and you’re set! It’s messy, the contents of the box will definitely end up being spilled and spread around but is easy enough to sweep or vacuum up. You might like to set this up on a large mat or blanket, or even outside if you’re particularly worried about mess. Enjoy!
Note: while these sorts of open ended activities will keep most children engaged and interested, they do all require adequate supervision – especially around water and anything that may pose a choking hazed. So stay close and keep an eye out.