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under5s - water play
Summer's here, and what better way to enjoy the sunshine than quality time in the garden with water. There are all sorts of ways of introducing it although it is important to remember that children only need a few centimetres in which to drown, so constant supervision is an essential requirement.

The garden hose can be a tremendous fun way to discover the qualities of water - making something or someone wet, filling buckets, watering cans and containers, and learning to pour it out again. Why not add a traditional sprinkler or one of the new child orientated ones, and you will have a whole heap of fun, and lots of cool children.

The more traditional approach is the paddling pool, but you can add variety, - bubbles are great fun and you may end up with clean children !!

On a really warm day, how about a pool of ice freeze lots of large containers with different coloured water and watch them melt, discover for yourself how the colours mix and change, and why the ice melts. (You can use food colouring to colour the water but check that none of the children have any allergies to particular colours)

Or how about a themed paddle, add some sand, some shells, some seaweed and you can have your own private beach.

My children love the 'Brio' canal system. This is a great way for a small group of children to play co-operatively with water, learn about boats, what floats and what sinks and doesn't usually involve then getting too wet!!

Another favourite of water play is washing up - bowls of soapy water, dishcloths, tea towels, and we all know how young children like to help. The summer is the ideal time to wash all the grime off  your toys, and bring a sparkle back to that old tea set though aprons are advisable.

Water play isn't expensive, yet it can bring immediate benefits; it has endless scope and enhances a full range of  early learning goals. Mathematical and scientific discoveries are just waiting to unfold, along with the opportunity to extend their vocabulary.

The most important equipment for any water play is adult supervision, and then of course the water! Make sure you are prepared with towels and dry clothes. Encourage the children to enjoy the experience and to discover things for themselves. 

But if you haven't a garden, don't miss out on water a local pond, the sea, or a river can be a wonderful place to discover. Throw in some stones, go fishing, have a paddle, feed the ducks and appreciate this natural resource.

We would love to hear about your favourite water activities; perhaps you could share your experiences on the message board!

Helen Renouf
Nursery Nurse (NNEB) and Registered Childminder

under5s - water play
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