Today’s Hint: The Rainy Day (& Very Cheap) “Water Table”

Most toddlers love playing with water, or “waty” as my 23-month-old daughter calls it.

So, water tables – including 3 easy and frugal DIY versions I recently covered – can be a great way to occupy toddlers on warm days. However, when the weather isn’t cooperating, setting up a water table inside probably isn’t high on your to-do list, considering what a wet mess it would create.

The good news, however, is that I recently hit on an easy and cheap way to make water table -like play happen inside, another strategy for a DIY water table that is today’s hint.

IMG_4232The trick: Turn a sink into a “water table.” In other words, simply put some items good for rinsing off and pouring into your kitchen or bathroom sink (think measuring cups and bowls, for instance); put a safe-to-stand-on chair or stool by the sink; place your little one on the chair or stool; and then finally, turn the faucet on very slightly so the in-sink water play can begin.

Not only is this activity great for keeping little kids occupied during rainy days, but it’s also a great way to keep toddlers occupied (and feeling useful) in the kitchen while you’re cooking a meal.

Recently, for instance, my daughter spent a good 10 to 15 minutes or so playing at our sink, rinsing off her pacifiers and filling up and emptying a bowl and measuring cups, giving me enough time to finish making that evening’s dinner right alongside her.

And this gets me to my next point: You’ll, of course, want to supervise your children while they’re playing at such a rainy day water table to ensure that they don’t fall off the chair or stool and injure themselves.

In addition, this approach could potentially waste more water than traditional water tables, if you just let the faucet run at full speed. That’s why I like to keep the faucet at a trickle when my daughter is playing at the sink, or to simply fill up the sink and keep the faucet off (assuming my tot will let the water stay off).

Finally, I can’t guarantee that this activity will be splash and spill free, though it is likely to be at least a little less messy than setting up a regular old water table closer to the floor or in your living room. And it’s easier than putting your kids in the bath.

For more “rainy day water table” inspiration, check out how Allison McDonald of the blog No Time For Flashcards turned a water-filled sink into a simple “cooking in the sink” pretend play activity for her daughter. And other good resources include this Teaching Mama post on how to set up a “sensory sink,” this My Teacher’s Name is Mama post and this how-to from the site Puddle Wonderful Learning on how to easily set up in-sink bubble fun.

What are your tips for inside water play and for keeping little ones occupied while you’re cooking?


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