This was originally post January 26, 2010. With the twins now being 18 months, we have been rediscovering the magic of water!
I have a bunch of little boys in my family. And I'm getting pretty good at recognizing the difference between deliberate naughtiness and boy curiousity. This post actually goes for little girls too.
When one of my children has taken a full glass of milk, water, juice, what have you, and dumps it on the table, it is most likely to see the effect. As a first time mother I was irritated when this would happen. Now I know better. My preschoolers and toddlers only get about an inch of drink in their cup at a time. Sure, this helps keep the mess to a minimum but it doesn't satisfy their curiousity and encourage them to discover.
So I give them cups and buckets in the tub to dip and pour with. The bathtub is a great place for learning. This is how I taught my oldest to pour milk from a gallon. He practiced in the tub. I also occasionally shower with a little one and have given them a cup in the shower to fill up and pour with wonderment all over their head or on the shower door, or just a big splash on the shower floor.
We live in California right now so the next tip we can benefit from on a near-daily basis. Send them in the backyard to make their messes. A big container of water on a plastic picnic table and a bunch of measuring cups and spoons. You could also just set them in the grass. Remember though, children can drown in as little as two inches of water. Do not leave them unsupervised.
If you live where there's snow, fill a spray bottle with water, add a few drops of food coloring and decorate the snow!
I love to also teach them to wash their hands. We've taught them (repeatedly) at the bathroom sink. We sing songs about it. But every once in a while, like once a year, I bring out a dishpan of water and a bar of soap and we talk about it and all take turns washing.
Water is a fun way to explore cause and effect, learn life lessons like cleanliness, learn about how healthy it is for our bodies, and more!