Just Add Water: Fast Easy Fun!

I've created a list of fast, easy and fun ideas and all you need to do is add water to them and start playing!  I'm going to *highly suggest* you collect the items right now and put them in a bin for later.  Then, when you are in need of something that you can just grab to entertain your kids in those difficult moments... you'll have this bin full of fun, all ready.  And yes, all you'll need to add is water.  You really can't get any easier than that.

First the safety speech:
1- In any situation where there is a container of water or a body of water, it is a drowning hazard (no matter how shallow the water is).  Do not leave babies or children unattended in those situations.
2- Products listed below are not made for human consumption.  Follow all safety and warning labels and directions on the product packaging.

I should also add that most of these are better for kids that won't put things in their mouth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Now for the collecting! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Start by getting two dishpans.  Put one inside the other.  The top dishpan is used to hold all of the activities and materials.  The bottom one is to pull off of the top one and use as an activity "surface/container" when needed.  Put a sign/label on the outer bin that reads "Just Add Water."

Some of these "activities" simply require purchasing something and putting it in the bin for later.  Others require you to gather some items together.

1) Water Play: Yes just water... kids LOVE water whether it be playing in their tub, in a sink or with
water outside.  Water is mesmerizing and wonderful.
In a ziplock bag include the following: kitchen utensils with holes in them like a slotted spoon, sponges, a funnel, toy watering can, wind-up bath toys and small cups.  You could also just use beach toys as shown in the pic on the right.  Label the bag, "water play."  For this activity fill the bottom dishpan half-full with water (as noted above this is a drowning hazard).  Place it in a sink or on a towel on the kitchen floor and drop the "water play" items into it.  Let the kids play with it (supervised).

2) Globbies: This is a brand name for water beads/pearls.  Water beads are tiny plastic looking balls that grow to small marble size when they are wet (when dry the shrink back down to the original size and can be reused repeatedly).  They are beautiful and fun!  I should tell you the packaging says for ages 6 and up and explains to induce vomiting if swallowed.  Having said that, I've seen lots of toddlers playing with them on other people's blogs.  Again use the bottom dishpan as a play bin for the water beads.

3) Fake Snow: "Grow Snow" and "Insta Snow" are products that looks like tiny white sand granules but when water is added it almost instantly "grows" to look just like a pile of snow!  Such fun to play with and so cool to watch it grow!  Also, like the water beads, the snow will go back to powder when it dries out and can be used over and over.  Another product with an age min. suggestion of 4 years old (although my daughter started playing with it supervised at about 2 1/2).  Yes, again, use the dishpan as a play bin.
4) Corn Starch: Corn starch and water make "Oobleck" which is probably my most favorite sensory play concoction.  You'll find the "recipe" which is really just the details about the ratio of water to corn starch on my blog post "Five Faves: A Week of Dough and Goo."
I suggest printing this "picture" out (screen shot of directions on the left) and taping the directions to a box of corn starch, then put the box, a small plastic cup (for measuring water and corn starch) and a few paper or plastic bowls (cereal bowl size) in your bin and it will be ready.

5) Starch Peanuts: Quite a few years ago someone came up with biodegradable packing peanuts.  Someone else then realized they could be used as a craft item!  All you need to do is add a smidge of dampness to the end of one "peanut" and stick it to another and they fuse together!  So much fun!  Give your kids a bag of these and a wet sponge to dampen the ends of the "peanuts" and they'll be all
set for a while.
Note: Here are 3 brand names for this product (you can also use the uncolored ones that are intended for package filling as long as they are the "biodegradable" ones).
Magic Nuudles     Stikits      EnviroBlox  All three are essentially the same thing.

6) Dawn Dish Detergent: Dawn seems to be one of those magic products that is good for lots of other things aside from its intended use.  Dawn is what they wash animals off with after an oil spill and it just so happens that it makes great bubble solution too!  Include a bottle of Dawn and some bubble wands in your bin for making bubbles.  Add quite a lot of it to a bin of water and let it sit as long as you can before using it.  The longer you let it sit the better the bubble solution is.  I should also note that if your kids make the solution all foamy and agitated it won't work as well.
Please note that Dawn is not manufactured for kids to make bubbles with... don't let your kids drink it and don't let them get it in their eyes or anything else (I don't know if it would harm them but let's not even try it).

7) Food Coloring: This one is very simple (beware of the mess though- it is food coloring).  Simply give your kids some clear plastic cups with water in them and some food coloring and some spoons to mix the colors and let them have fun dripping it into the water and mixing the colors.
Just remember to take the same precautions you would if you had your kids dying eggs, or doing tie dye... food coloring can get messy!

8) Paint Dot Paper:  This is an idea I saw on Pinterest.  You simply take some good weight paper (or even better- watercolor paper), make some dots with water color paint down one side of the paper and let the dots dry (do this with a handful of sheets of the paper).  Each sheet of paper becomes paint and paper to paint on all in one.  All they need is a brush and water because dry watercolors can always be brought back to wet paint just by adding water.  Check it out HERE for the DIY version!
Melissa and Doug also make a version of this. CLICK HERE for the ones you can buy!

9) Paint With Water Books: Remember those books we had when we were little that have colored dots in different sections of a coloring book page and as you go over each section with a wet brush and the color would come to life?  Did you love them like I did?  They still make them!  Just Google "paint with water."  Some come with a paintbrush and others do not so if you get one without a brush make sure to include one in the bin.

10) AquaDoodle (and other similar products): There are a few products out there where you can paint with water on them and then within a few minutes the water marks you made have vanished making the toy something that can be used many times over.  Here are a few (below).  Most have a pen or brush that is hollow so that you can fill it with water and draw/paint with it.
Here is a DIY version- CLICK HERE for DIY!
If you have slate tiles outside or big rocks, you can do the same kind of thing by just giving a toddler a wet brush and letting them paint those surfaces.  The paint dries quickly in the sun and they can do it all over again and again!

  Water Magic  
AquaDoodle (which comes in a few sizes) 

And there you have it!!!  Enjoy!!!

Here are a few others but because they are too big or fragile they really wouldn't be ideal for the above bin.

Foam blocks- Great for the bathtub or a water table. The stick together and will stick to the bathtub (sort of like a mild suction) when they are wet.

Musical Glasses- Line up drinking glasses and fill each with a different amount of water and then "play" them by tapping on them with a spoon.  Each will produce a different sound.

Tornado Tube- This is a plastic fixture that you can buy.  You use it to connect two large soda bottles.  One of the bottles needs to be partly filled with water.  Once connected you can create a great tornado or whirlpool by twisting and flipping the bottles.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful, creative ideas! The 'paint with water' books were always my favorite when I was a girl-- they had a very magical appeal! My daughter enjoyed them too-- a real classic. Thanks RCMom!