Summer is here and what better way to connect with the natural elements than to explore some summer water activities for the kids.
For those involved with water play in preschool environments, I would like to challenge some of the traditional ideas around it’s use and misuse of this often under estimated resource.
Keeping it Natural
Some of the most common things that I have observed as an educator is the waste of water within early childhood environments.
I have seen hoses running constantly, troughs of water filled to overflowing with children filling containers and pouring it onto concrete. Sometimes hundreds of litres per day being discarded like it was nothing to be concerned about.
Adding unnatural substances like glitter and detergents to water, although an interesting visual and sensory experience make it contaminated and unable to be reused.
Water is a life sustaining resource that can easily be taken for granted in places where it is plentiful.
Clean drinking water in some places is not a given and when we think of it as a necessity for drinking washing, cooking, used to water crops and animals as food sources, what gives us the right to play with it in ways that we cannot reuse it.
Early childhood settings are, in some western countries required to provide water activities as part of the curriculum, but;
- Where do we draw the line?
- How much common sense are we using?
- What message are we sending to children?
- When do we speak up and look for alternatives?
Pro and Cons
Here are a few of the advantages and disadvantages to water play.
- Therapeutic and calming
- Learning early science and mathematical concepts through play (measuring,volume, weight, disbursement)
- The value and wonder of water
- pollution, contamination
- cultural context ignored
- missing the opportunity of importance of teaching respectful and sustainable practices
This can be turned around and viewed from a more positive perspective by changing the way we perceive water play
We can start changing this wasteful mindset through recycling practices such as;
- Use of water in smaller amounts.
- Keep it natural so it can be used afterwards to pour on gardens or pot plants
- Reuse water for cleaning floors or equipment
- Catch rainwater for water play
Water is precious and a gift that children should be taught to treat with respect and to understand the value of it.
Many cultures regard water as a living entity and treat it with reverence. I feel this is a great way of thinking about it and could change our views on how we use water.
Exploring other water sources
Ponds and Streams
Not only are they a great way to cool off and have some fun, but the potential for learning about these smaller water ways is rather extensive. Think about all the things children may find to explore in these type of environments.
An abundance of life from tadpoles and frogs, pond weed, small fish and insect larvae.
Children can use small nets and jars to collect and observe these tiny treasures and then return them to nature when finished.
Flowing water, water falls, clear fresh and sustaining, Children are able to see the bottom of the riverbed and the changes in colour from light, reflection and the various types of shingle, rocks, pebbles, sand and plant life .
Children experience another form of water movement through the tides, and observing waves. They can explore rock pools shells, and sea life and look at how the sand soaks up the water. There are a variety of experiences to have near water sources.
Alternative water play ideas
Pools, sprinklers, containers or buckets of water great way to cool down and an opportunity to educate children on water conservation as well try to recycle, if these are used on grass areas or near gardens to replenish them after use.
Ice used in different shapes or with shells flowers, or leaves inside are a wonderful way for children to observe as it melts and offers a lovely sensory experience, without compromising the quality of the water.
Water is a vital source of life giving sustenance and we need to role model this respect for it to children.
Water is therapeutic and calming and a great way to explore floating sinking, bouancy and movement as science concepts.
I would like to point out that these are my own personal views from experience and I have presented them here to challenge the way we consider our use of water in the context of early childhood settings. If we are looking to introduce authentic, sustainable practices that are enduring then we need to be able to transfer these messages to children in authentic and meaningful ways. We do not want these to be socially acceptable trends, but true change towards a better outlook for our future generation.
thank you all for stopping by and I hope you found this article helpful. If you would like to add your thoughts in the comments, I would love to hear from you.