Sometimes indoor toys just need a change of scenery, and sometimes kids need a new way to play outdoors. This new configuration is exactly what we all needed to turn a long day around with play. As my children explored this physical Science activity with problem-solving, I got to catch my breath alongside them. Win. Win. If your children are into race cars, outdoor tracks, water play for kids may be what everyone needs.
RELATED: Looking for all our water play ideas? Our list is a must-see.
What makes a good play prompt?
It’s summer, and the boys must stop asking me for snacks 7 minutes after breakfast. I have emails to check and a few tasks to complete around the house. The boys were met with one option: GO PLAY!
And play they did. Water play can happen most organically when given the opportunity.
I stayed close once they incorporated the ladder, ensuring I supervised my children as they tested the cars down the ramp.
Big Kid Activity Cards
Because our big kids crave hands-on learning too!
20 hands-on activities for ages 5.5-8 years old. More than half of the ideas inside this pack will be kept exclusively for cardholders! This means you will never find most ideas here on our blog.
Trust kids understand how to play.
The silver lining of these summer days without camps or playdates is that children have plenty of time to be bored. The good news is that boredom can lead to amazing outdoor ideas like these 50+ Kid Activities. Our crazy schedules come to a screeching halt, opening up plenty of time to play.
Of course, my children have played with water before.
Messy, muddy water play and water scoop and sort have been on repeat for some time now. But today, they decided to take a favorite toy and create something new. Now we will add outdoor tracks and water play for kids to our collection.
Pinch me. All three boys, ages 3-6, were in harmony, constructing and problem-solving. It was the play harmony I dream about.
RELATED: We keep play simple. Check out these 101 preschool activities to inspire more play at home.
How to prompt more play at home
But how did we get here? We started with sensory play at a very young age. Here are the basics of how to train for sensory play.
As I watch, I see buckets of water filling up and cars sliding full speed down the tracks. Keep a close eye on when children play with water, and do not leave a child unsupervised.
Prompt more play at home by offering chunks of time that are not scheduled and a little flexibility for creative freedom to test ideas.
But that’s not all…
How water play helps a child’s development
- Collaborating to make adjustments with the water and tracks for more speed.
- Connecting and disconnecting the tracks to find creative solutions.
- Exploring physical science with velocity, gravity, and momentum.
- Filling and dumping to explore capacity, quantity, and spatial relationships.
- Trying test runs and inquiry-based learning. (a fancy term for testing new ideas to make something work)
- Understanding how much space water takes up in each container.
Put a fork in me! Science for the 2020 school year is complete with this outdoor water play idea! Just kidding, I have a list of 17 other favorite science activities for kids on standby.
Set up outdoor tracks water play for kids
Each day, the water play had a different configuration. Remember to encourage your child to take the lead. Show them a few pictures from this post for inspiration.
On the first day, the track loops in and out of the “jungle” and drops directly into the lava. – Why is it always lava? I’m not sure, but the play here is where it’s at.
I linked a few favorites to get ideas flowing for this water play science exploration. Remember, tracks can be used both indoors and out. I find the mud and dirt easy to wash away.
Many of the items my children use with water play can be found in our outdoor supply bin. This link to our Amazon shop will show you even more parts and pieces to make this water play come alive!
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Hot Wheels Car and Mega Track Pack
Looking for a few more tracks to inspire play? Get this pack.
Hot Wheel Set of 10
This starter pack is for kids who enjoy Hot Wheels and race car tracks.
Kid activities should be kept simple
This a gentle reminder that kid activities can be kept simple and inspiration can be found for old toys in a new space.
Take indoor toys outside on warm days that could use a little encouragement to make it to dinner. Read more about why playing outside is important for kids from healthy children.org.
More outdoor posts to enjoy
Water Play FAQ
Sensory activities engage touch, smell, sight, and sometimes sound and taste. Touching new textures creates different paths in the brain to enhance learning. Sensory bins, like this water bin, are an easy way to reach more learning potential through play.
1. Pouring water through funnels
2. Scooping water with measuring cups
3. Adding food coloring to water bottles and watching the colors mix
4. Putting water in spray bottles and aiming for a target 5. Adding water to tubes and watching the water flow through. Here are 35 winning water games for kids.
Water sensory play is a household favorite. Here are 40 sensory bin ideas for kids to guide your play and set up instruction at home with kids.