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Toddlers LOVE water! They love pouring it, scooping, splashing, dumping, throwing it, squeezing, watching it, and jumping in it. Water play is a huge part of development for your toddler. And it’s not a bad toddler activity for your pocketbook either…because hopefully where you live you have access to PLENTY of water. So your kid can practice to their skill extent, without needing to save materials for another time.
This water transfer activity is cheap and will probably keep your toddler engaged for a long period of time, especially with an endless supply of water from the sink! You probably have all these materials in your home already! (Aren’t those the BEST kid activities to prep for?!?!)
Materials you need:
- 2 buckets (transparent buckets are fun so you can see the water all the way around!) Gallon ice cream pails work great!
- A variety of sponges
For extension activities:
Demonstrate Water Transfer
Some activities I am all for just putting the materials in front of the child and letting them take the lead. When I am targeting a certain skill, I choose to demonstrate the activity first.
Start with all the water in one bucket. Lay out the different sponges for the child to experiment with. Choose one, plunge it into the bucket full of water and let the water absorb into the sponge. Lift the sponge out of the water gently, showing the child that you are holding it delicately. No squeezing yet! Carry the water filled sponge over to the empty bucket. Once your hand is directly over the empty bucket, give the sponge a dramatic squeeze getting all the water out!
Once the sponge is dry, choose a different sponge to repeat the process with. Let the child do it, working to get all the water transferred to the other bucket using the sponges. When all the water is in the new bucket, your child can start again by transferring all the water back into the old bucket using the sponges!
Extension Activities for Water Transfer
- Electrical tape: When you see that your toddler is mastering transferring all the water into the buckets, you can give them a new challenge to practice precision and self-control. Place a long thin piece of electrical tape on the inside of the bucket where you would like them to fill the water to. Demonstrate how to stop when the water they have transferred reaches the tape. Then they can pour the water back into the old bucket and start again, transferring only enough water to reach the electrical tape. I use electrical tape because as long as the surface is dry when you stick it on, it should stay even if it is submerged in water.
- Garlic press: Cut some of your sponges into pieces small enough to fit into a handheld garlic press. Mine pictured is from Pampered Chef, but this garlic press is almost identical to the one I am using. I love it, because it is a little heavier weight and builds good finger strength. The small sponge pieces can be soaked in water, then put into the garlic press. Your child can squeeze as much water out as they can, and then repeat the process with another saturated sponge. You can also use smaller bowls for the water in this extension activity.
- Liquid watercolor washable paint: Adding color to any water activity makes it so engaging! Even if the kids seemed bored with the activity beforehand! My FAVORITE liquid watercolor paints that I have used for years are Colorations Liquid Watercolors! They are absolutely amazing! Unlike food coloring, these paints leave very few stains on hands or clothes, so you can confidently mix them with anything; water, rice, sand, shaving cream…etc. For water, all you need is a few drops depending on how deep or light you want the coloring to be. Colorations has TONS of colors to choose from, but you can just get the primary colors initially to mix and match for colors you don’t have.
- Fine motor dexterity
- Finger and hand strength
- Sensory input with water
- Builds observation skills
- Self-control (Can they make water come out of the sponge fast or slow? Can they stop filling the bucket when they reach the electrical tape line?)
- Brings awareness to cause and effect
This water transfer activity can be done indoors, but is probably enjoyed most outdoors where splashing and full exploration can ensue! What are some of your favorite water activities to do with your kids?! Share them with us!