Water Play (and Its Hidden Benefits)

Summer is here, and as the children will tell you, the best part of Camp Keetov is heading outside for water play. While we all love to cool down on a hot summer day, this full-body sensory experience gives the children so much more. As many of our children adapt to this new environment after so long at home, sensory play supports them emotionally and intellectually. Whether sliding down the water slide, washing baby dolls, or pouring water from one container to another, the children are engaged, excited, and happy to experience all that the water has to offer.

Water Play Is Science

Sensory experiences like playing with water allow children to experiment and learn about basic scientific concepts. They examine cause and effect, begin to understand the properties of a liquid and the concept of buoyancy, and develop a basic understanding of physics that we as adults might take for granted. Our older class is testing out how the water moves when it is poured out of a bucket, splashed against a wall, or trickled down their bodies. They experiment and question, continuously testing out new ways to move and interact with the water.

It Calms and Soothes

Of equal importance are the sensory experience and its effect on a child’s emotional state and focus. As they immerse themselves in the feeling of their hands moving through water or how it drips down their arm as they squeeze a sponge, children are building an understanding of their body in space and the complexities of textures around them. They are calming down their minds as they center in on this sensation and the way it makes them feel. For anyone feeling anxious or scared to be in a new space or with new people, sensory engagement can help pacify and soothe those emotions.

It Helps Children Connect with Each Other

Coming together at camp offers children an opportunity to engage in these sensory adventures alongside their peers. After being apart for so long, the children are eager to connect. The class setting allows them to observe and learn from each other while encouraging their creativity and social skills. The invitation to engage is ever-present as the children’s interests and physical enjoyment draws them toward this sensory exploration. As one child washes an animal, another may bring over more shaving cream to rub all over it. How do we join in play together? How do we navigate a new relationship? Enveloped in this shared experience, the children learn to communicate and collaborate.

We, too, understand the benefits of engrossing ourselves in a sensory experience. Whether it is standing in the shower, enjoying the water streaming down your head, or taking off your shoes at the end of the day and stretching out your toes in the carpet, these moments ground us in our bodies and calm our minds. We may not always remember to appreciate these sensations, but as always, our children are here to remind us to find wonder and joy in these moments.