Kids and water go together like peanut butter and jelly. We LOVE spending the summer outdoors whenever we can. Whether it’s splashing away in our favorite inflatable pool, running through the sprinkler, or doing fun preschool water activities in our homemade water table.
Water is the perfect boredom buster for your preschooler and will also get you through some of those extremely hot days. You don’t need much to make your own “water table” and adding some fun activities to the mix will keep your kiddo coming back for more.
Water Play & Water Tables
Store bought and structured water tables are perfect for 12-36 month old children, to splash around at shoulder height so they can’t fall in.
As your preschooler gets older and has more control, and is looking for things to do besides just splash around, a homemade “water table” can be the perfect solution for some easy and portable water fun.
Homemade Water Play
In one EASY step, you can make a “water table” with items that you already have at home.
Are you ready? Use a large plastic storage tub, cooler or large buckets+ add water + some toys. BOOM- preschool water table complete!
Your preschooler can easily kneel down next to it, stand next to it, or even sit next to it for hours and hours of water fun.
Use A Cooler As A Water Table
If you don’t have an extra storage container hanging around your house, or don’t have the patience to unload all the items in your storage container, no problem! Grab a large cooler and fill it with water. Make sure the cooler is flat on the ground and does not roll, so it will remain in place.
The cooler works great for some pop up water play. You can take it with you wherever you go and there is zero prep work involved (with the exception of filling it with water).
If you are heading out camping, out for a day at the beach, or a friend’s backyard picnic, add a little water to the cooler and your child can have tons of fun splashing around, playing, or adding any of the preschooler water activities below.
The best part about just using a cooler or a storage container, is It’s not a large bulky item, so you can effortlessly move it from the front to backyard, to grandma’s house, or store it in the basement in the winter months.
Don’t have a cooler? Use large buckets from the dollar store and fill them with water. The main idea is that you don’t NEED a store bought water table to have fun. Heck, water in a large pitcher could even do the trick. Just get creative, add some water and have fun!
**A “homemade water table” or water bucket as recommended is intended for older preschool aged children under constant supervision of an adult. This activity is NOT recommended or intended for younger children or toddlers who can easily tip over into the water buckets. All water tables should be used at your own discretion on a flat surface. Any form of water play for children should always be closely monitored by an adult at all times.
Water Table Toys
Water table toys and add ins should not be hard to find. Use utensils from your kitchen, your preschooler’s favorite buckets, wands, shovels and cups and add them into the water.
Ideas of Things to add to the water bucket:
- Measuring cups
- Paint Brushes
- Mild Dish Soap
- Measuring spoons
- Squirt bottles
- Action figures
- Play tea sets
- Bubble Wands
Preschooler Water Activities
Your kids probably don’t need much help splishing, splashing, and dumping water around in their own water table.
If you want to add fun preschool water activities to encourage learning through play, or if your child is the kind who gets bored easily, here are some fun preschool water activities you can add to your homemade water table.
Do the dishes add bubbles
Add some mild dish soap to the water table, and have your child “do the dishes” the extra element of the the soap adds loads of extra fun to the water table.
Have your child count how many dishes they were able to clean, and talk about which dishes are bigger and which dishes are smaller. I add colorful sponges from the dollar store, and you can even give them some old towels so they can dry the dishes.
Create A Recipe
Add tons of measuring cups and measuring spoons and begin talking about the difference in sizes and what they mean. Ask your preschooler to use their imaginations and “make soup.” they get to decide the ingredients (so I bet a lot of you are going to be having pizza chicken nugget soup) while you get to determine the measurements. Tell your child to add one cup of water and one tablespoon to a seperate bucket and mix it up. This preschooler water activity will keep you busy for a long time!
Add Water Beads
Water beads are such a fun addition that can be made the night before and then added to your water activities for endless hours of play. The large beads are so much fun to add to preschool water activities. They grow to be about the size of your child’s palm. Your preschooler can search for and squish around the water beads in the large bucket of water. Remember that just a few teaspoons of the beads will go a long way, in this case when making them, less is more!
Go On a Treasure Hunt
Find some objects that will sink in the water, and ask your preschooler to go on treasure hunt for them. Add tongs to the homemade water table and ask them to find them on the bottom of the sea.
Fishing in the water table is a great preschool water activity! This fun bathtime fishing set is the perfect element to add to your homemade water table. Add the fish along with other non-magnetic fish, and ask your child to see how fast they can get all of the fish out of the bucket. Time them and see if they can get faster and faster.
Scoop and Find
Add some ping pong balls or other balls that will float into the water table and ask your child to scoop them out into another bucket. If it’s an extra hot day, add ICE and ask them to scoop that instead.
Take Your Friends for a Swim
Add your child’s Barbies, toy boats, action figurines, dolls, or whatever they are into, to the homemade water table and have them “go for a swim.” This is guaranteed to be your preschooler’s favorite way to play in the water. At this age their imaginations run wild, and they will love just being kids and having fun.
Storing Water Toys
If you have a set of water toys that you want to specifically stay outside, my favorite way to store them is in milk containers. That way they can all be neatly piled together in one place, but won’t collect water like a large bucket or container. This will also help prevent molding on your outdoor toys.
What is Your Favorite Preschool Water Activity?
Which activities can you see your kiddo loving? Rainy day got you stuck inside? No problem– check out these fun and easy Indoor Sensory Box Ideas.