One of the most interesting playtime activities involves water. As a matter of fact, kids love playing with water with or without the use of water toys. Children always find something magical in the way they interact with this element. For child developmental psychologists and parents, however, water toys provide the much-needed learning and developmental experiences children need to grow healthier.
Playing with water can be an excellent way to foster sensory and psychomotor development in children. For very young kids, the feel of water on their bodies can provide an entirely different experience. Older children can experiment and explore the things that they can do with water while at the same time developing and/or reinforcing their gross and fine motor skills. This helps them develop and master their coordination and balance which can provide the foundation for other more active play. And when enjoyed with other children, playtime activities involving water can facilitate communication and build the confidence necessary for the development of amiable social skills. Of course, playing with water is fun and this translates to kids feeling much better about themselves as individuals.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Intex Rainbow Ring
- Capacity: 77 Gallons
- Little Tikes Spiralin' Seas
- Squirts Water
- Melissa & Doug On the Go
- Water Pen for Easy Filling
Criteria Used In Evaluation of the Best Water Toys
Water is a wonderful source of play, sensory, and physical development opportunities. When you extend water play with toys, you can expand that source for further learning. The toys also extend the fun for children and also for parents who watch these little tykes discover all that they can do with water.
We choose toys based on the number of ways they can offer opportunities for learning and fun. Kids can learn a new language and communication skills, social skills while playing games, increase strength and coordination, balance, and other physical skills.
Water toys offer little kids opportunities to expend lots of energy, which is good for sleep and good for behavior. When little ones are tired and offered the opportunity to sleep, they do it. Then they are ready for more play the next day and are just waiting to explore their world even more. They will probably ask to go swimming again. Kids have so much fun in the water that they can’t wait for the next day.
Toy safety is important, and while many toys require parent supervision, we make an effort to choose toys made from safe materials and won’t hurt a child if they use the toy properly. Hence the reason we advise parental supervision with most toys. As far as toy safety, simple is better and there are plenty of child-safe water toys on our list.
Child Development and Water
Water is great when it comes to using it in helping a child experience what water is and how it feels. Water is a material that looks and feels different from anything in a child’s dry world. Water play helps children develop their small and large motor skills as muscles get stronger with swimming and water play. Water toys can increase muscle development as there are muscles in use that aren’t used as much in just swimming.
Watching toddlers discover water is fun for adults, too. We want to join in the fun when a little one splashes and plays then squeals in delight. How inviting. When adults join in the fun, it can initiate teaching moments. Parents can teach kids about how water works, talk about how it feels and discuss what to do with water. Start a rhyme or story about a runaway boat or a pirate ship. The possibilities are endless.
When kids are big enough to play in a pool, they can wade or swim through the water, helping their bodies strengthen even more. They learn about coordination on water and increase their ability to balance without the fear of falling on a hard surface. They learn that water is a soft landing. Cannonballs off the diving board tend to follow. It’s fun and may be competitive when swimming with others.
Water play presents children with the opportunity to learn new words and develop their communications skills. Playing with water toys such as a basketball or in a toy pool that includes games helps little ones learn how to play with others, playing fair, and sharing their toys and space in the pool. They find that they can have fun with other kids and improve social skills.
Of course, playing in the water, especially with other kids, can become wild and raucous, in which case, the children expend a ton of energy. Kids expend energy, and they sleep well at night. The more exercise they get, the better they tend to sleep. It’s good for them and good for parents.
What Determined the Best Water Toys for Kids
Choosing the right kind of water toy can be particularly daunting simply because there are literally thousands of water toys in the market. As such we have performed a very thorough and extensive research on each of these toys identifying their strengths and weaknesses especially in terms of safety, quality, and their ability to encourage the continuous development of children. We have also taken note of what other parents are saying about these toys. Lastly, we have placed careful thought on the reputation and credibility of the toy company.
Playing is a very important part of being a child. In fact, it is through playtime activities that very young children first learn about themselves and their immediate surroundings. When they grow older, playtime activities with their favorite toys help lay the foundations for a healthier, better, and more successful individual. It is through play and toys that children are able to reach their fullest developmental potentials.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I clean tub toys that harbor water?
A: You could soak in diluted bleach water or even rubbing alcohol. Just be sure and rinse them really well and allow to dry before giving them back to your child. Eventually, though, the mold may defy cleaning and you would be better off just throwing the toy away and buying a new one.
Q: My little boy loves playing in the water. How can I use water to get him interested in science?
A: Well, it could take a book to answer that question, but let’s just get you started. One of the best ways to get your child started in science is to engage him with questions. This engages his curiosity if he’s old enough, and if he’s not quite to the point of understanding, then keep repeating questions until he is old enough. And come up with new questions as well.
Water is an amazing material, and the water toys can make water do curious things. A water pistol can put the liquid in a situation where there is pressure put on the water and it shoots out the opening. Then ask questions about why it shoots out so far.
You can discuss with your child about buoyancy, water pressure, density (like why it’s harder to walk through water than it is through air), volume, and other properties. In school, they will likely fill a glass with water and add an ice cube and watch it melt. The water volume stays the same. Why? This is something you can start at home.
When kids play in the water, they are also using a sense of touch, so their brains are gathering sensory information. Keep asking questions about what the water feels like in different situations. What does the warm water feel like vs. cold water, for example. You can come up with lots of questions of your own. Perhaps do some research on learning with water or water experiments.
Q: What if I can’t answer my child’s questions about water and water toys?
A: First, you probably will be able to answer at least the simpler questions your child has about water. But if you feel really out of your depth, try doing some research. You can tell her, “Let’s look it up together!” You can make it a fun research project that your child can take part in.
Try not just the internet, but perhaps books about water or an encyclopedia.
Make it a fun trip to the library. You can ask the librarian, too, giving your child an example of requesting help. Make it fun for your child and you’ll encourage your child to keep asking questions. This is a good thing and supports his sense of curiosity.
Q: My child isn’t old enough for lakes and rivers yet so I let her play in the kiddie pool in the backyard. How do I include teaching about nature in this safe environment?
A: There are lots of ways to teach about nature in and around your kiddie pool. Can you take your little one for a walk around the yard and point out objects of nature like flowers and bugs? When you do that you can use water play in the pool as a reward for learning. Your child can test the buoyancy of parts of nature by sitting in the pool and seeing if they sink or float. Compare flower petals, leaves, and grass to pinecones and even small stones. And don’t forget a bug or two!
Or talk with your child about what water is and it’s properties. That is nature at work. Teach him the words even if he doesn’t understand the concept yet. Contrary to what they teach in the lower grades, memory is a vital tool in learning. When children learn and memorize words and concepts, it helps them remember when talking about it at a later time and even helps them pass the tests in school.
Q: How do I keep my child safe when playing with toys in the water?
A: The first thing to do is make sure you purchase water toys that are appropriate for her age. Don’t purchase a toy that is clearly for an older, more mature child. This, of course, is based upon your judgment as to your child’s age and maturity.
No matter where your child plays, it’s up to you to keep her safe. Whether it’s in a big pool, a kiddie pool, or the bathtub, you need to be there every minute she is playing. Never leave your child alone near a source of water.
When outside in the sun, make sure they have sunscreen on, a bottle of water nearby to drink from so they don’t get dehydrated and check the water temperature to be sure the water isn’t too cold.
Also, make sure to teach your kids the rules of being around water. This includes no running on the deck, where it’s safe to jump in, how deep they are allowed to go for their size, and no pushing other kids into the pool. Your kids can still have fun when obeying the rules, and when everyone is safe, your child’s water play won’t become a disaster.
Q: I have a small pool that has had several holes. I’ve used the patch kit that came with the pool. How do I patch the pool now that I’m out of patching material?
A: This may depend on the type of pool you have, but there are patch kits you can purchase at hardware or department stores like Home Depot or Walmart. If you happen to have duct tape and some super glue, give that a try. Just clean the area, cut the patch, apply super glue to the patch and the pool, if possible, and seal.
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