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Indoor Water Fun for Preschoolers

September 22, 2010

Have you seen the water tables some preschools have? It’s basically a deep basin with legs, they can fill with water, sand, oatmeal or an assortment of beans to serve as a tactile station. At every station like this, kids typically have to be pried away and told to do something else, or they get squeeze out by other kids who want to play too.

Before my preschooler was ready for traditional preschool, we did a Mom’s preschool once a week with friends. When I taught ‘rain, snow, wind and water,’ the weather didn’t cooperate and I needed an indoor activity that went with our theme. So, our free play was my own “mom” version of a water table.

I used two under bed storage bins, filled them 1/3 full with warm tap water, had a plastic watering can for each child, plastic cups in different sizes and measuring cups.

Since I wanted the kids to make it home somewhat dry, I used plastic grocery bags to make ‘smocks’ for each of them. I flattened out the bag and cut out the middle of the bottom ‘seam’ of the bag. Leave 3 inches of the seam on both ends, these will be the shoulders of the smock. Next cut open both sides of the plastic bag all the way to the bottom seam. Snip the handles apart to create ties. This should resemble something like a scrimmage jersey.

Slip their head through the opening in the bottom of the bag, and tie the handles securely at their hips.

If the child is wearing long sleeves, you’ll want to push them up well past their elbows to keep them dry.

Keep a stack of towels on hand, because try as they might, water will get on the floor and you’ll want to wipe it up periodically so your feet don’t get cold and wet and to keep it safe for everyone.

These kids played with this set up for a 30-45 minutes, with no sign of getting bored.


Had the weather been better, this would have been perfect to do outside. Prop the storage bins up on buckets or set up two folding chairs facing each other, using the seats to set the water bin on, making it accessible from both sides and would allow up to four kids to participate.

* * This activity requires constant adult supervision! Do not ever leave a child playing with water unattended. A child can easily drowned in just a few inches of water.

http://www.thethriftyhome.com play academy We Play

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. amandab75 permalink
    September 27, 2010 5:17 pm

    I was wondering how it was you had such big containers! And the plastic back smocks are another great idea :)

    Water and messy play is always the best. Another thing to tell my girl when she asks me to list why being a little kid is better than being a big kid! LOL

    • September 27, 2010 6:04 pm

      So true!! My older girls lament each passing year as they graduate from being little kids to being big kids with greater responsibilities and less time to “play”.

  2. September 27, 2010 8:32 pm

    water play is such a hit isn’t it

  3. September 28, 2010 1:58 am

    I love the homemade smocks what a great idea :) Water play is so great for keeping little ones occupied … Neevah loves containers of water and toy animals …. they all go to the waterhole for a drink and bath :)

  4. September 28, 2010 2:46 am

    Love water play at prior to school settings. The children just love it so much! Though I have never been one to take children away from an activity that they are engaged in.

    Great post.

  5. September 29, 2010 3:14 pm

    Great way to actually let kids play with water! And love those grocery bag smocks!

  6. September 30, 2010 5:44 am

    Love the photo of them all in a row. My girls love water play. I agree too that we should try to find the time to let children keep playing with an activity for as long as it interests them. Pretty easy to provide enough resources (espcially with something like water) so they can all access it. Thanks so much for linking up with the Play Academy. Hope you’ll stop by this Friday too. Cathy x

  7. JDaniel4's Mom permalink
    October 1, 2010 7:20 am

    I agree. I tub of water can fill ours. We have indoor and outdoor tubs with kitchen tools.

  8. October 4, 2010 7:39 am

    I am a huge fan of water play and love how you adapted the play activity to suit the circumstances. Your plastic bag smocks are so clever.

    Thanks for linking to We Play :)

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