Children love water and always want to interact with it. They seize every opportunity to play with water at home. To bridge the gap between home and school, supply and opportunity for use of water in preschool is critical.
Water can be used effectively during free activity lessons, however, not for drinking. If there is no water tap in the classroom, then plenty of water should be brought in large containers. Different containers of various sizes, shapes, textures and colours will make water play attractive. Choice of containers and activities should be left to the children to make. However the teacher will have organized the children in manageable groups of five at most otherwise three or four would do better. Other groups off course will be playing different games not with water.
Activities will be guided by the kind of containers supplied by the teacher. For example if a spray can is made available children can play the spray game. In this game children just enjoy spraying water on any thing and to any object including fellow children if the teacher does not caution them beforehand.
Children could also engage the use of horse pipe if availed. Both of these two games are best played outdoor. Another interesting water play children enjoy are sinking and floating objects in a pool of water. These objects may include feathers, tinny polythene bags, leaf, stones, small foam materials etc.
Children will definitely weigh water from one container to another to compare and/or contrast the capacities of the containers. Large cans and small cans or water bottles of various sizes can be interesting for children to utilize and make their fresh discoveries. Children will enjoy bathing their toys and dolls in the water and even talking to them as if they were babies. They can pamper or punish their dolls according to their own mood at the time of the play. In this case the play will act as a therapy to heal and stabilize children emotionally.
The benefits of water play to young children are enormous and cannot be overemphasized. Children will obviously develop their physical and motor skills when engaged in any kind of water play. They will be lifting, filling, emptying, pulling, opening and closing the containers. All these require body movement and therefore will enhance physical development and motor skills.
Children will develop mentally as they interact with the materials and water under different conditions. For example sinking and floating activities, will provoke thinking, asking questions, answering questions, decision making and solving problems. Children wonder why a feather floats and a stone sinks in water. They will seek for explanations to such phenomenon. As they do so they develop their mental capacity.
Children interact with their friends as they play. In so doing they develop their fluency in speech, improve listening skills and expand their vocabulary. In the same vein children develop their social skills as they play in the groups with their friends. They will for example learn to share play things. They will learn to take turn, to appreciate others, to take responsibilities for wrong things done and say sorry. Children will learn the negotiating skills through playing with others. And they also learn to be honest and considerate to others. Children learn empathy and tolerance for others. Above all children gain self awareness leading to self confidence and self esteem. When done well children will be led to holistic development. What a great way of leading children to learn from behind, as the teacher is not directly at the lead.