It’s amazing to see how water holds such an endless fascination for the children at the Outside Tribe. It’s something they come back to again and again, and much more so here at than in any other early years settings I’ve worked in. I have been trying to fathom why this might be. What makes the water play here so engaging?
I think the main difference here is the absolute freedom the children have to transport, slosh, spill, pour, spray and generally get it everywhere! We are lucky that we don’t have to restrict the ideas the children have for it – we can embrace their ideas, and therefore embrace the learning. If it spills everywhere – no worries, the ground will soon soak it up. You want to fill a wheelbarrow with it and take it somewhere else? – go for it! You try to pour it down a tube and it goes all over you? – that’s fine – you’ve got some great waterproofs on!
There are also so many options for combining the water with other materials in an outdoor setting. It’s often mixed with mud, leaves, sticks, stones, woodchip… you name it, they’ve tried it! Over the last few weeks the children have also loved making a giant muddy puddle – a whole team event with water being transported in different containers with discussion about the best methods to use to fill it and how much water is needed. This led naturally on to creating a river (we are lucky to have a slope!) and they were fascinated watching the path the water took.
The learning that happens through all this water play is vast. Mathematical understanding such as capacity (full, empty, measures). Scientific understanding such as forces, properties of liquids, making solutions, gravitational pull, displacement, floating and sinking, predicting and testing ideas. Social skills – parallel and group play is happening all the time with water play, role play, creativity and imagination is developed as concoctions are made and mixtures are taken to the mud kitchen, and of course physical skills as both large scale and small scale movements and strength are needed.
The fact the children are able to fully explore the water and its properties, without limitations, allows them to fully engage with all the learning possibilities it holds.
Pooh Bear obviously had it right when he said ‘when life gives you rain, play in the puddles’!