Sunday, 22 March 2020

Water play and exploration: activities to try at home

What is more fun than playing with water?

Our Inquiry in Autahi this year centres around Sustainability. We have already begun to plant seeds - more to come on this - and, of course, our plants need water to grow. With this in mind, we are also beginning to think about the role water has in our lives. What do we use it for? Where does it come from? How does it behave and what can it do?

In Autahi, some of our best learning comes through play. Play offers golden opportunities to experience and explore, try out new ideas and talk about our thinking with others.

Here are a few ideas for simple activities to get you and your children thinking and talking about the wonders of water. They all use common household items. We are going to be trying them in class this week: you might also want to have a go at home. We would love to know how you get on and what discoveries you make. And if you have ideas for other activities, please do share them so that we can try them, too.

Dive in for lots of splashy, splashy, floaty (and sinky), melty, drippy fun!

1. Frozen taniwha eggs

Take a party balloon. Pop something inside such as plastic jewels, beads, animals. Mix a jug of water with a little food colouring. Fill the balloon with water (a funnel works well for this). Tie a knot in the top of the balloon and repeat.

Freeze your 'eggs'. When they are hard, peel off the balloon outer and you will be left with beautiful taniwha eggs.

Now, time to melt them and liberate the treasure inside! A squeeze bottle or eye dropper filled with warm water can be used to gradually melt the eggs, drop by drop. Try adding a little salt: what does this do to the ice? Try immersing an egg in a bowl of water. Leave an egg out in the sun and check on it regularly: how long does it last?

Variations: freezing a washing up glove filled with water and small items is great fun. Once hard, peel off the rubber glove and enjoy experimenting with your 'ice hand'. 

Or, if you have plastic dinosaurs or other animals at home, place them in a plastic container, top up with water (coloured, if you like) and freeze. Turn out your ice block. Now the challenge is on to rescue the frozen animals from the arctic ice!

2. Bath time for teddies 

Fill the sink or a bucket with water. You might want to add a gentle soap or bubble bath. Give grubby soft toys a little bath, drying them with a towel. Now, hang them outside to dry. Note how wet they are when you hang them up. Visit them throughout the day. Are they getting drier? What is happening to the water? 

Variations: Puddle Watch. Make a puddle on the deck or pavement outside. Draw a circle around it in chalk. Revisit your puddle from time to time. What do you notice? What do you think is happening?

Or, Paint the Fence. Channel your inner Karate Kid with a container of water (a.k.a. paint) and a brush. Paint the fence/deck/pavement. Step back to admire your handiwork. Does the area you painted stay wet? 

3. Loading boats

This is an activity for a bucket or bathtub of water. You will need a selection of plastic containers and some plastic toys that don't mind getting wet (Lego bricks and people are good for this). Float a container in the tub. Begin adding toys. How many can you fit before the 'boat' sinks? Which of your containers can carry the most? What is the water doing to keep the boat afloat?

Variations: If you're feeling handy, have a go at making paper boats to try this experiment with. There are instructions online for simple origami boats. It is also fun to try floating cardboard boxes (raid the recycling bin). The paper adds an extra challenge as it gets wetter and soggier.

4. Art projects

Frozen paint: this works well with any water-based paint. You will also need an ice cube tray and some lolly sticks. If using ready-mix paint, squeeze about half a cup into a bowl and add the same amount of water. Mix together well. Then fill your ice cube tray with the paint mixture. Freeze until a hard skin appears on the paint (about half an hour). At this point, you can carefully poke a lolly stick into each ice cube. Freeze until hard. Now your ice cubes are ready to paint with!

Drip art: make up a runny solution of paint. Using a brush, drip the paint onto the paper in one spot. Now, move the paper around, allowing the drip to travel and create a pattern. Add more colours and more drips. A variation on this is to cover a page with paint and then use a clean brush to drip water onto it. Watch as the water makes a track through the paint.

5. Fill the bucket 

Finally, a fun outdoor game to let off some steam!

You will need two buckets/containers and two cups. Fill one bucket. Place the buckets a good distance apart from each other. The challenge is to transfer the water from one bucket to another using the cup. Take a scoop of water, and run/walk to the empty bucket. Tip the water into the empty bucket. Run back and repeat.

Increase the challenge: set a timer; use a sponge instead of a cup; use a cup with a hole in the bottom; have two teams and make a race.

Keep an eye on the Blog to see how we got on with these activities.


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