Three Simple Activities Young Children Absolutely Love

Creating complex activities to entertain and educate your child can be time consuming, expensive, and disappointing, especially when they don’t like what you’ve created. But there are a few activities that I’ve used with children over the years that are always a big hit, cost very little, take almost no preparation, and consume young children in hours of play and exploration.

Too good to be true? No way! We’re talking about the magic of water play here, and when it comes to activities like these, simpler really is better. So here are my top three activities with zero prep time, minimal or no clean up, and an enormous capacity to engage the creative mind of a child.

#1 Bathroom sink water play

Just stop up the sink, put a stool under it, turn on the water to a very light trickle, throw in a bath toy and a cup, make sure there’s a towel nearby, and you’re done! Sure your child might soak themselves, so you might want to give them a smock, but playing in water is SO MUCH FUN for young children, you are sure to get at least 10 minutes, if not 30 from this activity. I especially like this one because it doesn’t matter what the weather is like, and children can ask for it or set it up themselves as they get a little bit older.

#2 A home made water table aka a plastic bin, some water and a few rocks

With minimal supervision, a plastic bin filled with an inch of water and a handful of rocks can entertain a young person for an hour, easy. The picture at the top of this post is ours. Who needs an expensive water table when an $8 plastic bin does the trick?! My 20 month old daughter played for about 40 minutes walking back and forth and adding one rock at a time, playing for a while in the water, and then going back to the bucket (on the other side of the yard) for another rock. Do keep in mind that young children can drown in about an inch of water if they fall into it head first, so you want to be sure you’re using a bin with shallow sides, and you do need to be nearby.

#3 Painting with water

Even after all these years of working with kids, I am still shocked at how popular this activity really is. With just a cup filled half way with water and a paintbrush, children can spend quite a bit of uninterrupted independent play-time painting the patio or sidewalk. This activity is so great because it requires absolutely NO clean up. Their “paintings” simply dry over time, creating a clean slate for the next creation! Children enjoy writing their letters and numbers, drawing elaborate pictures, playing tic tac toe, making shapes, and even creating water drawn obstacle courses. And somehow, even though they love doing the painting, young people are rarely upset by the temporary nature of their water paintings. In fact, in all the years I’ve used this activity, I’ve never seen a child cry over a dried up water painting.

I’m curious, do you already use these activities or are they new to you? Does this spark any new ideas about how you can engage your child in independent play? I would love to know YOUR ideas for similar activities. Please leave me a comment!

And have a wonderful week, Shelly

9 comments
mry mhd
mry mhd

thank you 

very easy and useful

JodieEvans
JodieEvans

These are great, thank you. We also like to use spray shaving cream to finger paint with. As with the water, the creations can keep changing, and my 24 month old was interested for about an hour. We did this outside, and he loved hosing it all clean at the end too. :)

NPava
NPava

I love these suggestions!! Thank you!

Christee
Christee

I've often used water play for unexpected young guests, because it's so handy and they never get enough of it. But I've never heard of putting rocks in the water table. Sounds intriguing. Is this a precursor to mud pies? ;)

yourfriendkira
yourfriendkira

There is SO much to play with right under our noses!  You are brave, @awakeshelly  for screen-free flying!  Usually our flights are super long (6 hours plus) I'm not sure I'm up for that!  Painting with water though, my FAVORITE thing is painting with water... my mother used to bring a cup and paintbrushes to any pool we visited.   I have done the same for my girls for almost every pool we visit.  :-)   Sometimes I miss having a backyard for even more water play, but our bathtub or sink usually does the trick.  

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

 @NPava You're so welcome! I'm glad you like them and I KNOW your daughter will too :)

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

 @yourfriendkira Yes, I'll keep you posted, but I think we're prepared. We have our first chapter book, a book of poetry, three board books, some finger puppets and more! I think we're going to have a fun time on all the airplanes :)

Trackbacks

  1. […] #9 Three Simple Activities Children Absolutely Love […]