I don’t know about your part of the country, but here in Northern California the weather is already starting to heat up. Here it seems like summer lasts from April through October, which means we have to get creative with ways to keep the kids cool. I want to share some tips for summer water fun so you and your kids can stay cool this summer. A few summers ago we found a small “water table” at a yard sale, and it has been such a great investment for hot summer days. We fill it up with water and the kids can explore with floating, filling and pouring water toys all while cooling off. The great thing about this activity, is that you don’t need a lot of “stuff” to make it work.
Tips for Summer Water Fun
TIP: If you don’t have a water table, find a shallow, long storage tub (the type designed to slide under a bed) and fill it about half way full of water. It will work just as well, plus you can dry it out and use it to store all the water toys when the activity is done for the day!
Most of the toys that we use for our water table activity are re-purposed household items. These work great because many of them are already designed for pouring. I just try and collect little items such as laundry detergent scoopers, dish soap bottles (these are great because you can fill them up with water and squirt them out) and margarine tubs.
TIP: Add some variance to your re-purposed items by using a nail to make small holes in the bottom or sides of the containers. This will make the water drip out and make a “shower effect”.
Every year I try and get just one or two “nice” water toys that I search out and buy. I think that by adding just one or two “special” items the activity goes from great to amazing for my kids. Because I only buy one or two of these per year, I try to be fairly selective to get the most bang for my buck! I feel like I have really gotten this from this year’s choice “Ariel’s Floating Fountain” from the “Disney Princess” collection.
TIP: In addition to letting your kids cool off, the water table activity allows kids to explore basic scientific principles of sinking and floating, practice gross motor skill by pouring, and provides a fun sensory experience. While picking out toys for the activity, try to find toys and objects that allow for as many of these opportunities as possible!
As soon as I took “Ariel’s Floating Fountain” out of the box, my 18 month old daughter said “ooooh cute” (something she has never said before)! Right away I knew that I had a winner! “Ariel’s Floating Fountain” is a floating island with a large spiral plastic flower growing up the middle, and two small fish on either side. Two little swings also hang on either side of the flower which Ariel and her friends can attach to and swing on. A small Ariel figurine comes with the set, and Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella can be bought separately. The figurines are made fully of plastic (even the hair and clothing) which makes drying them off MUCH easier.
TIP: Supervise your child at all times while doing the water table activity or any other activity involving water. Children can drown even in very small amounts of water. Safety first!
One of my favorite features of “Ariel’s Floating Fountain” is the flower in the middle of the island. Inside of the flower is some plastic tubing that attaches to a crab shell that you can squeeze. When you place the island in water and then squeeze the clam shell, water is pumped through the tubing and squirts out of the top of the flower and the mouths of the fish. This wasn’t just a little drizzle like I have seen with many other water toys, this was a really big squirt that actually had a lot of force behind it! The squirting water seriously had like a 3 foot radius! My 6 year old son really enjoyed this, and because of the huge squirt, he loved the toy even though it was a “princess” toy (which tells you how great the squirt was). He thought it was hilarious to say “mom, come smell the flower” then when I put my nose to it, he would press the clam shell and make water go all over my face! Lol! We did find that aft er a while of floating, the island would fill up with water and start to sink. This added to the fun though, and we would say “save the princesses” and quickly pour all of the water out!
TIP: Add a new dimension to the water table activity by giving the kids bottles of different colored water (dyed with food dye). The kids will enjoy playing with the colors and experimenting with mixing the different colors.
One of my favorite things about the water table activity is that clean up is so easy! Since we always do it outdoors, we tip any remaining water (there is not always a lot) into the flower beds. Then we set all the toys out on a towel to dry for a few hours before putting them all away, then just throw them in a basket for next time! Something I liked about “Ariel’s Floating Fountain” is that this toy easily comes apart to let you drain all of the water out. I really appreciated this feature as I hate the water toys that always seem to have a little water left in the bottom (no matter how well you dry it out.) The floating fountain dried out so well that when our water table activity was done, we were able to take the toy inside and use it on a flat surface as an indoor toy. This allowed us to play with the toy in a new way and enjoy the features such as the swings and the slide (a tiny slope on the side of the island that the princesses can slide down) that where harder to use while in the water. I love toys that have a couple different elements for different settings (like I said… I like to get a lot of bang for my buck)!
TIP: After your water table toys are dried off bring them back inside or put them away in a shed. If left outside the summer UV rays will break down the plastics and make them brittle.
Ariel’s Floating Fountain is made by Mattel and sells for $19.99, and the additional princesses sell for $5.75 (all available at Amazon).
I received a promotional item to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Leanne Cox is a guest writer for CleverHouseWife.com. She is a stay-at-home mom to two kids, and a credentialed preschool teacher. Leanne teaches “mommy-and-me” and “preschool style” music & movement classes through her business “Little Stars Music & Movement Classes” . She is passionate about encouraging early childhood education through hands on learning and exploration.