Splashing through Summer
One of the first pieces of advice you read as a new parent is: "When they are throwing a fit and you do not know what to do, take them outside or put them in water."
Unfortunately, my daughter did not take to car rides and found it hard to calm to most activities. However, bathtime was a revelation. Not simply content to sit above the water in her baby bathtub, my daughter wanted to splash around and nearly practice swimming in the tub. Whenever it was water time, the crankiness disappeared. It was not surprising when I got pictures from her first Splash Day at school and she was grinning.
But why do we do water play at school every Friday? The simple and easy answer would be this...because it is fun. Children love playing in water during the hot summer months and, if they are going to be outside in the heat, they might as well have maximum fun. However, the simplicity of the answer does not explain the depth of what this fun brings to the children who engage in water play. Water and sand play is essential in any early childhood curriculum; NAEYC, or the National Association for the Education of Young Children, highlights some of the skills that water play enhances in young children, saying, “these areas are essential to the classroom for higher level learning.” They note that water and sand activities allow children to engage in sensory exploration, mathematical learning like volume and concepts of more and less, scientific skills, language development, and social skills as well (Vanover, Sarah Taylor, The Importance of Sand and Water, July 18, 2018, NAEYC). The best part of sand and water play is that students do not always think they are going to be engaged in learning, just play. Still, as Piaget and, more recently, Mr. Rogers both noted "Play is the work of childhood." When children are allowed the freedom to explore any medium which is so rich with information and possibilities, children will learn. They are, after all, natural scientists.
Play is messy...in some cases it can be a bit wet.
Splash Day does not just have to come around once a week at school. You too can have water play galore at home to keep your little ones engaged and learning on days (or months as was the case for many this past year) when you are the only teacher around. One activity which is a smash hit but requires little mess involves freezing small toys or objects into ice cubes. Then, give your child a cookie sheet (maybe with a small towel under it) and let him or her crack the toys out of the ice. You can also freeze watercolor paint and let them paint with those as well. Even letting your little ones help with washing the car or the dishes can be a fun way to bring Splash Day into your every day! Your kids will love getting to work with you and will relish in the soapy bubbles. Plus, giving them small responsibilities at an early age helps them be less resistant to household jobs as they get older.
We all use water every day; Splash Day is the celebration of that water that flows in and out of everything we do. We here at Kids Country encourage you to join your children in celebrating water this summer and year round, and remind you to let your inner child play every now and again.
Written by Elizabeth Krochka