at home ideas

just add water

While babies may not be able to articulate all of the big ideas that are “afloat” in water play, just a little bit of water and some simple household items can introduce them to concepts including more and less, empty and full, sinking and floating, absorption, and the physical properties of liquids!!. Water can even provide the basis for some very creative play for babies. Here are a few wet and not so wild activities you can try:



  1. medium size toy car or truck
  2. shallow pan filled with water
  3. construction paper

Help your child to dip the wheels of the car or truck in the water and then place the vehicle on the paper and roll it back and forth and all around the paper. Comment on the “tracks” you are making. This creative art activity exercises both motor and thinking skills as babies use their 4-wheel “tool” to create patterns.



  1. 1-2 trays of ice cubes (shaped ice cubes such as fish, penguins or hearts are a great option, too)
  2. A large tub of water
  3. Small colander or fish net
  4. Medium size empty bowl

Dump the ice cubes into the tub of water. Model “fishing” the ice cubes out of the water with the net or colander and dumping the ice into the empty bowl. Describe your actions. Give the colander or net to your child and encourage her to go fishing for the ice. If necessary, assist your child by gently pushing some of the “fish” into the “net” and then dumping the ice into the bowl. When there are no more “fish,” dump the bowl of ice back into the tub and start all over again. This simple game exercises hand-eye coordination skills, ideas about more and less, process skills and encourages social interaction.



  1. 1 medium size tub of water
  2. 1 large plastic cup
  3. 1 small plastic cup
  4. (optional) 1 small funnel

Younger babies will delight in simply watching the water flow from the small to the big cup as you fill the larger one, or create a “water fall” by pouring the water from above. Invite your baby into the process by helping him to hold one of the cups or just put his hand into the “water fall.”  With older babies/toddlers, model pouring the water from one cup to the other. If going from small to large, talk about how the larger cup is filling up! If going from large to small, comment on the overflow. Have fun, use funny voices to describe what’s happening with the water levels. Your baby will play with a range of “baby math and science” concepts in this simple activity.