Missing the misty sensory magic of Water Works, Outdoor Adventure, and Twilight Trail's Waterfall and Ice Cave? Let creativity flow @Home with ideas for supervised Water Play.

Children are mesmerized by WATERWhen it comes to a clean, natural material that is universally appealing and leads to limitless play...bring on the liquid (in all its forms)!

So splash, pour, spill, squish, drizzle, wash, soak, and soar your way through sensory play.


1. An Ocean of Possibilities Inside a Spray Bottle:
A simple plastic spray bottle can unlock a vast array of playful learning experiences for children of all ages. This summer, set out a handful of these everyday materials. Watch your child’s imagination plunge into open-ended play!

Material Options: 
• A Hose
• Mini Spray Bottles (120–250 ml Bottle):
  Pro-Tip: Ensure the trigger is child-sized!
Large Plastic Tubs or an Outdoor Water Table 

Plus, Consider:
Plastic or Rubber Animals
• A Bar of Soap or Shaving Cream
• Colorful Aquarium Kelp

And Explore Playing with:
Small Shower Squeegees or Sponges
• Acrylic Mirrors, Colored Plexiglass, or a Window
"When I see water I wish to know more about it because it has a story like everything else.  It could have been rain, or a river or anything."
—Launa, Age 8

2. Arctic Ice Sensory Bin Adventures 

Grab your parkas and head to the Arctic! Encouraging children to discover the properties of frozen water can lead to hours of epic storytelling adventures, in the heat of summer or the enchanted cool of the year's first snowfall.
Material Options:
WATER (or snow!)
Large Bag of Ice or Frozen Blocks of Ice:
  Pro-Tip: Tupperware in the freezer works well!
• Large Plastic Tubs Or Outdoor Water Table
• Plastic Cups or Muffin Tins

Explore the Kitchen for Water Toys:
  Think slotted spoons, colanders, scoops, funnels, and an eye dropper.
Add Natural Materials:
  Think rocks, gems, shells, driftwood, and coral.
 Consider Snow-Like Materials:
  Think playdough, baking soda, or marshmallows.

And Play with:
Plastic or Rubber Arctic Animals:
  Think orcas, polar bears, and seals.
• Oceanic Liquid Food Coloring
• You could even add Silver Glitter!
Or, let your imagination set sail with additional open-ended experiences such as water-themed charades, painting with water on rocks, or freezing herbs.
"Water isn't just something you drink.  It's beauty.  It's the glistening sun reflecting on moss in the dark green shadows of light…a drop never leaving the world, evaporation, precipitation—they’re all a part of water’s never ending life in this world." —Lois, Age 8 


Questions for Caregivers to Extend the Conversation with Children:
The power of sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, social interaction, fine motor skills, and problem-solving. Paddle to the deep end to continue the discussion with your child with these prompts:

Think About These Concepts: 
Floating vs. Sinking
Deep vs. Shallow
Warm vs. Cold
Wet vs. Dry
Flowing vs. Obstructed

  • What stories live in water?
  • What do you noticewonder, & hear when playing with water?
  • How does water make you feel?
  • Brainstorm on all of the things that water can do.
  • What is your favorite memory involving water?
  • What role does water play in our lives?​ 

Explore a river of recommended reads on the many facets of H2O.

A Cool Drink of Water
by Barbara Kerley: Preschool–Grade 2
An international tour of water in featuring people around the world collecting, chilling, and drinking water.

Hey, Water!
by Antoinette Portis: Preschool–Grade 2
Splash along with a spunky little girl who realizes that water is everywhere, but doesn't always look or feel the same. Watch a read-along with the author HERE!

A Different Pond
by Bao Phi: K–Grade 2
Caldecott Honor: Bao's father shares with him stories of when he used to fish at another pond, back when he lived in Vietnam.

The Water Princess
by Susan Verde: K–Grade 3
A story based on the childhood of model Georgie Badiel in Burkina Faso follows a girl and her mother as they retrieve water for the family's use.

All the Water in the World
by George Ella Lyon: K–Grade 3
Faucet, well, raincloud, sea. From each of these comes water. But where does water go?

White Water
by Michael S. Bandy: K–Grade 3
"After tasting the warm, rusty water from the fountain designated for African Americans, a young boy questions why he cannot drink the cool, refreshing water from the 'Whites Only' fountain."

Young Water Protectors
by Aslan Tudor: Ages 9–12
A Story About Standing Rock: The life of young water protectors. 

WAVES OF SOUND: Songs about Water

Reunite with artists from our Building Bridges Family Music Festival for splash-tastic songs exploring WATER, its inhabitants, and creations! Feel free to whistle along to aquatic-themed songs. 

Building Bridges Mini Beach Reunion!
123 AndrésJazzy Ash, and Museum regular Aaron Nigel Smith head to THE BEACH to croon about the sand, the wind, and THE WATER in a just-released single for summer! 

Caspar Babypants:
Venture "Beneath the Water" with Building Bridges artist Caspar Babypants and "All the Fish." Drift down a "Monkey River" to meet "Jellyfish Jones," who's feeling "Pretty Crabby."
Beneath the Water
All the Fish
Monkey River

Jellyfish Jones
Pretty Crabby

Mr. Ben:
Missing the weekly tunes of longtime Museum regular Mr. Ben? Check out gentle music for babies and Pre-Toddlers online:
Peace Like a River
Frosty the Snowman

Or "stream" the classics HERE

DIVE DEEPER: Journey Beneath the Surface

Clean freshwater is an essential ingredient for a healthy human life, but 1.1 billion people lack access to water and 2.7 billion experience water scarcity at least one month a year. Explore larger issues of the global water crisis and water conservation. 

For Parents & Caregivers:
Our Relationship With Water | TED Radio Hour:
We need water to live. But with rising seas and so many lacking clean water—water is in crisis and so are we.
Charity Water: For people in developing countries, clean water can change everything.
Without Water: CBS News on America's water crisis. "Water is a right."

"You can kind of go free with water. I kind of feel like water is unbreakable. Because once you put your hand in water, it keeps going." —Lois, Age 9

To Share with Children:
Project Wet: The Importance of Water Education
WonderGrove Kids: "Save Water to Help the Earth" in an animated video.
PBS Kids: Create a Water Conservation Plan: Learn water-saving tips, then create a plan to conserve water through small changes at home.