The Benefits of Water Play

Water does wonders

 By: Ana Hanssen


"Agua", was probably the second word that both of my kids said after “Mom.” 

Water, like a Mother, is life.

Water is vital.

Water is healing.

Water is refreshing.

Water is calming.

Water is energizing.

And above all, for babies and toddlers, water is FUN.



It never fails to bring joy and entertainment to young children. A bath, pool, the ocean, feeling the rain, a sprinkler in the garden, a puddle to jump on.


Incorporating water play in our daily lives with toddlers and babies is not only fun (and messy) but also beneficial for their development.


This summer, as always in Miami, was very hot. Even now, still in Fall, this city never fails with its sunshine. At the end of every class, the kids have the chance to play with mud and water.


While they splish and splash, pour water into cups or simply have a refreshing moment, their brains are doing a million things.


Water play helps kids develop motor skills. How? Through pouring, scrubbing, stirring, squeezing and squirting they will increase their fine motor skills and eye coordination.  This also helps them master the grip that will enable them to hold a pencil correctly. In addition, they strengthen their hand and arm muscles.


Water play also gives the opportunity to learn through sensory experience about different textures (slippery, slimy) and temperatures.


Playing with water is a wonderful way to learn problem-solving skills, and explore materials and substances and discover new things about them. A stick floating or a rock sinking will teach them about weight and cause and effect. It is also a wonderful opportunity to find out what water can do.


Water has amazing effects on their social and emotional growth. It’s relaxing, calming and invigorating. Water play also promotes mindfulness because kids focus on one activity like pouring, scooping or simply running their hands through the water. Playing with water is an excellent tool to calm, unwind and help the children order their thoughts.


At the same time, it encourages cooperation and sharing, two key social skills.


When the opportunity of playing with water arises, it is a perfect occasion to introduce new words. That’s why water play promotes language development. I see this very clearly when we play with water at nature play school: new conversations and questions arise that allow teachers and moms to introduce words they will learn while having fun: drain, flow, hot, cold, shallow, deep are some of many. 


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