Learning from the elements: playing with water

Playing with water builds curiosity, investigation skills and problem solving.

Water play also helps children discover mathematical concepts such as volume, full and empty, and the properties of materials (for example, water can be poured).

Water words

New words become useful and real when you use them in context. So playing with water is the ideal time to get that vocabulary working by saying words such as wash, drip, splash, sprinkle, gurgle, trickle, pour, flow, froth, foam, bubble, gush, soak, fill, empty, rise, fall, freeze, mist, evaporate, absorb, dissolve, wet, warm, hot, cold, icy, freezing, dripping and damp.

Make a splash

Water can be splashed, trickled, poured, sprinkled, stirred, beaten, paddled in, run through, painted with and used for simple science experiments, like exploring the ideas of floating and sinking, solid and liquid.

Asking questions is a great way to get your child thinking. Ask questions like:

  • ‘Do you think that will float?’
  • ‘Will that sink?’
  • ‘Is that full or empty?’
  • ‘What will happen if you … ?’
  • ‘How does that water feel?’
Water play ideas

You can create some variety in the games you play with your child with buckets, cups, spoons, sponges, funnels and any brightly coloured containers from around your home.

Here are some water play ideas:

  • Explore floating and sinking with a variety of objects.
  • Use squeeze bottles to see how far water squirts.
  • Get different materials, like sponges or sand, and see how each absorbs water.
  • Add detergent, vegie oil or food colouring to change the properties of water.


Image Young children laugh and splash as they play with toys and buckets in water

Published — 31 August 2016 Last updated — 04 November 2016

Want personalised tips and activities?

Complete these short questions to get personalised tips and activities to see how simple and easy it can be.

Get started
01 / 05

What is your relationship with the child?


What best describes your location?


If you had a spare moment, what would you most likely do with the child?


And finally…

Do you speak another language at home apart from English?
Are you of Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander descent?
Does the child need additional support with their development or learning?
Now we know a little more about the content that might interest you we’ve compiled it into a handy page for you.