Playing with Water

How to Teach Preschoolers About Water Conservation

Conserve water yourself to model the actions. Talk to your child about the water-saving actions you take. Say, "I always shut off the faucet while I brush my teeth so I don't waste water. I can turn it back on when I'm done brushing to rinse my mouth." Not only does your preschooler see you conserve water, she also hears an explanation of why you do it.

Read kids' books that discuss the water cycle and water conservation. Try "Why Should I Save Water?" by Jen Green, "Water" by Frank Asch, "Splash! Water" by Nuria Jimenez and Empar Jimenez, and "All The Water in the World" by George Ella Lyon and Katherine Tillotson. Discuss the information in the books to help your preschooler understand why she should care about water conservation.

Write a list of all the different ways your family uses water, such as brushing teeth, showering, cooking, drinking, filling pools and watering plants. Brainstorm ways the family can cut back on the water uses. For example, you could install a rain barrel to collect rain for watering plants. You could fill the kiddie pool one time and leave the water in it longer. When you drain the pool, use the water for plants, as long as you didn't treat it with chemicals.

Post reminders around the house to encourage water conservation. Hang a sign in the bathroom that encourages kids to shut off the water while brushing teeth or scrubbing their hands, for example.

Remind your preschool child to save water when is wasteful. Say, "You forgot to turn off the hose. Lots of water is running right out of the hose being wasted right now. Please turn off the water right away."

Praise your child when she conserves water. Verbal recognition of her efforts encourages her to continue those actions. Say, "I like the way you saved that glass of water for later instead of dumping out the water that you didn't drink."

How to Child Proof a Spigot

Set your water heater's thermastat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The University of Michigan Health System recommends this temperature in order to prevent accidental scalding should your child turn on the tap on his own.

Slip a faucet cover over any indoor spigots or taps, such as those in the bathtub or kitchen sink. These covers completely encapsulate the spigots so that children do not bump their heads or other body parts on the spigots and get hurt. Faucet covers come in plain colors, but there are also fun characters, like Elmo, available that will decorate the faucet to please your toddler. You can purchase faucet covers in any department or home improvement store, as well as online.

Attach a hose bib lock to any outdoor spigots. The hose bib lock is a lock that screws onto the end of outdoor spigots so that children are prevented from turning the water on when playing outside. To install the hose bib lock, simply turn the hose bib lock clockwise around the spigot with the key in place. Once the lock is snug, remove the key. The spigot will not work unless you remove the lock, so children are safe from using it when you aren't looking. You can purchase a hose bib lock online, or at any home improvement or plumbing supply store.

Things You Will Need

  • Faucet covers
  • Hose bib locks

Tip

Knob covers can also be purchased to keep little hands from turning the hot and cold knobs next to the spigot. These work the same way as the faucet covers. They are slipped over the knobs next to your spigot so that your child is prevented from accessing them and turning the water on. Knob covers are sold in department and home improvement stores. You can also get a set online.

Warning

Never leave your child unsupervised around water. According to the University of Kentucky, children can drown in less than 2 inches of water.

Water Play Funnels for Cognitive Development in Babies

Water Funnel Description

You will find a wide variety of water play funnels available for young children. These are usually made of child-safe plastic in an array of colors or simply clear. The funnels can be in the shape of animals, characters or simple towers. Some are in one piece while others can be pushed together into different shapes or stacked on top of each other. You’ll often find bends, twirls, shoots, sprinklers or rotating objects on or in the funnels.

Using the Senses

From birth, children are exposed to a whole new world, and they start learning from the beginning. Spirit Lake Consulting points to developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget, and his take on a baby’s development. Piaget stated that infancy is the first stage in cognitive development, where the baby learns about the world through her senses and physical exploration of her surroundings. When a baby plays with a water play funnel, all her senses are at work learning, processing and categorizing. She is using her fingers to touch the water and hold the funnel. She watches how the water flows and splashes. She can hear the water go through the toy and splash out the bottom. She’ll probably try to taste the funnel and the water, too. As she processes each sensation, she starts to categorize and classify.

Language

Using play funnels with your child is an ideal way to introduce new words. Point and say simple words about the object, like “water,” “pour,” “splash” or “float.” Describe what you’re doing, such as “I’m pouring water into the funnel” or “The water is wet.” Even if your little one can’t repeat the words or phrases right away, you’re exposing him to new vocabulary and correct sentence structure. Repeating the words also helps tie the word to the object or action for better recognition.

Developing Skills

Although your baby will not be a master of hand-eye coordination or fine motor skills quite yet, play funnels can help her to refine and develop these skills over time. She will start to realize how and where to grab the funnel or where to pour the water. Show your child how the toy works; help her fill a plastic cup and pour water into the top of the funnel. As she gets older, she will start to do these motions herself with more proficiency. It’s very likely that she will miss and water will go everywhere at the beginning, but practice makes perfect. Due to the mess potential and slippery safety issue, it’s best to play with the funnel in the bathtub or outside.

Ideas for Parent & Tot Swimming

Kicking

Learning how to move water with his feet and legs will eventually help stabilize his lower body on the surface of the water. A young toddler can hang on to the side of the pool while you encourage him to make big splashes with his feet and legs, suggests the American Red Cross. Practice "sky kicking" by resting your tyke's head on your shoulder while he practices puffing out his belly and kicking his legs toward the sky. As he gets more confident in the water, let him hold your hands while kicking on his front.

Splash Time

Learning to splash and jump in the water can help your toddler feel more comfortable getting water on her face and eyes. Have your toddler sit on the edge and count to three before letting her "jump," as you securely hold her hands and guide her into the water. Always hold her hands tightly so you're in complete control of her depth and avoid letting her go under the water -- unless that's something she's comfortable with. A younger toddler can enjoy being lifted high above your head and lowered into the pool while still in the safety of your arms.

Breath Control

Learning breath control is something you can do with even a very young toddler. Show your tot how to blow bubbles by putting his face -- or at least his mouth -- underwater and make bubbles together. Blowing bubbles gives your toddler practice at blowing air out of his lungs when his mouth is under the water, which prevents him from inhaling water. An older toddler can practice kicking while holding on to your hands and periodically putting his face in the water.

Reach and Pull

As your toddler becomes more comfortable and confident in the water, she can practice pulling and reaching for floating toys a few inches away by moving one of her arms in a doggy paddle while holding on to your outstretched hand with the other. Learning arm circles and scooping movements will eventually help her to keep her torso on the surface and her head above the water. Mastering the motions of the doggy paddle is the foundation for learning swimming strokes in the future, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.