Splish, Splash, Splosh!  The benefits of water play with young children

Splish, Splash, Splosh!  The benefits of water play with young children

As a practitioner I loved those warm sunny days when we were able to be outside for most of the session, and what could be better than engaging in some water play to cool us down?

There are many benefits of playing with water with young children and so much for them to learn!

  • Investigate colour mixing by adding a little food colouring in the water tray, or use some natural dyes to tint the water (e.g. blueberry juice, strawberry juice)
  • Find out about capacity and volume using different containers and jugs for pouring
  • Improve hand-eye coordination by spraying water pistols at targets on the wall
  • Engage in all kinds of bubble play; blowing bubbles helps to strengthen the muscles in our mouths which are essential for articulation and speech
  • Decorate the large canvas that is your playground or patio area and paint it using large brushes and water
  • Investigate water wheels and create water runs using pieces of drain-pipe and guttering
  • Make folded paper boats and float them
  • Be a scientist and find out about floating and sinking
  • Use water to make footprints and investigate what happens if you add other ingredients like mud and grass
  • If you have an incline you can use plastic sheeting to create a water slide by pouring water down it and sliding down
  • Add more water to your sand area or mud kitchen
  • Go pond dipping and find out about the wildlife that lives in and around water
  • Go to your local pond, river or canal and feed the ducks (with duck food, not bread)
  • Visit a beach or create your own beach area using sand, pebbles and water
  • Freeze some water-based paint in ice-lolly containers to make your own ice-paints
  • Use spray containers or washing up liquid bottles to squeeze and spray water
  • Visit a pet shop, garden centre or aquarium to look at the fish
  • Fill bottles and jars with different amounts of water and tap them with a spoon to make music
  • Share watery stories with the children e.g. At the Waterhole, The Snail and the Whale, The Rainbow Fish
  • Use language associated with water play: splish, splash, splosh, wet, dry, soaking, float, sink etc.
  • Have a water fight!

Remember to remain vigilant and supervise the children at all times when they are engaging in water play.  So, cool off and make a splash this summer with some fun water play!

About the author

Tamsin Grimmer photo2Tamsin Grimmer is an experienced early years consultant and trainer and parent who is passionate about young children’s learning and development. She believes that all children deserve practitioners who are inspiring, dynamic, reflective and committed to improving on their current best. Tamsin particularly enjoys planning and delivering training and supporting early years practitioners and teachers to improve outcomes for young children.

You can contact Tamsin via Twitter @tamsingrimmer, her Facebook pagewebsite or email info@tamsingrimmer.co.uk

Bedtime routines that really work – advice for your parents

Bedtime routines that really work – advice for your parents

Having a bedtime routine is key to helping little ones sleep well. By creating a bedtime routine, you give baby a cue that lets baby know that sleep is near. It helps baby unwind from the day, change gears, relax and calm, and prepare for sleep time. Your bedtime routine should start at around the same time every night, therefore helping to really set their little body clocks and work towards helping them know what to expect next.

Preparing the room

The room should be prepared for sleep before you run the bath so that by the time you get out of the bath, the scene is set and you have created the perfect sleep environment for your little one. The lights should be dim and the curtains closed, keeping the atmosphere as cosy and calm as you can, helping your little one transition from day to night, from awake to asleep.

Avoiding overtiredness

In my experience, I find the best time for a little one to go down to sleep is around 7pm or a little earlier, as you risk the chance of your little one becoming overtired if he is going to bed later much than 7pm, which could gravely affect his nights.

A baby’s daytime sleep and nighttime sleep work hand-in-hand. By putting baby down to sleep even just 30 minutes later, you could have a difficult time on your hands. An overtired baby can be difficult to settle and the whole night could be affected by even just a slightly later bedtime.

Getting the balance right

A baby’s 24 hour day should be divided in two: 12 hours of daytime and 12 hours of nighttime. The beginning days are sleepy and baby may wake in the early morning to feed and will most likely to be happy then to sleep past 7am, but as a little one starts to become more awake and alert and his sleep becomes more solidified, it can be unrealistic to expect your baby – if going to bed at 7pm – to sleep in for much later than 7am. If, however, you are putting your baby down at 8pm and your baby is waking at 6am, your little one is losing out on 2 hours of sleep every day. Multiply that by 7 and your little one is losing 14 hours of sleep a week! That’s a massive difference to a growing, developing baby.

Rest and recharge for parents

A bedtime also symbolises the end of the day, for both parent and for baby. For parents, it means time spent together as a couple and the rest of the evening to rest and recharge. By doing this, a healthy boundary is set so that, as a little one begins to grow older, he will understand that it’s okay for mummy and daddy to have time to themselves while he goes to sleep. He sees that as the norm and, moving forwards as the little one grows older into a toddler, he won’t expect that he should be able to stay up as late as his parents and go to bed when they do. Always start as you mean to go on.

Adopting a great routine

Bedtime routines slightly differ from family to family, taking into account what works best for baby and parents, but in general a lovely, soothing bedtime routine may look something like this:

Bath time: splish splash! Often babies get really excited and love bath time, don’t worry too much about keeping bath time calm and quiet, you may not win. Calm time can come after bath time.

Dry, dry, dry: Take care to dry little one all over. Babies have so many little folds that can easily be missed, causing sores later on if left damp.

Baby massage: Or at best, a little cream all over baby’s body and perhaps a gentle nappy barrier cream, helping to keep baby’s bum happy and protected until the next change.

Pj’s: Dress little one appropriately and always remember you are dressing them for the night, not for just how the temperature feels in the present moment.

Story time: Some babies love hearing a story before bed, some are too young or just want their milk too much to bother. A story need not be long or a whole book, it can consist of 1 page, helping set the wonderful habit of reading and some special time for both parent and child before bedtime.

Time for milk: This can be done before story time or after story time, depending on the preferences of parent and baby.

Putting baby down for bed and playing a lullaby: This is a fantastic step and one I highly recommend. By playing the same song/s on going to bed every night, the sound gets linked as a sleep association. Baby hears the song or music and immediately knows it’s sleep time. This is so helpful and can especially come in great use when traveling. Most baby monitors have a selection of soothing lullabies which you can play.

The whole bedtime routine shouldn’t take longer than 1 hour from start to finish. It’s easy for a little one to become distracted and ‘forget’ the aim of sleep which you had in mind, if your bedtime routine lasts longer than 1 hour.

Avoid going back to the room which baby mostly plays in and playing with his toy again before bed. Keep moving in alignment with bedtime, keeping the atmosphere calm and quiet, and the lighting low to match.

About the author

happy babyTracy Newberry, a baby sleep coach and sleep consultant, is the founder of Happy Baby and Me. She teaches sleep in a gentle reassuring way; never using any of the ‘cry it out methods’. Tracy was passionate about working with children from an early age and began working as a nanny in London when she was 18. A year and a half later, she returned to her home country of South Africa, where she nannied and worked as a nursery school teacher.

Arriving back in London in 2009, Tracy continues to work with families, growing her experience and childcare knowledge. As her passion for teaching sleep grew, she set up her own business Happy Baby and Me. Tracy now helps many babies and young children learn the wonderful skill of falling asleep in a gentle, caring way.


Let’s play with water!

Let’s play with water!

We’ve been lucky to be experiencing a hotter-than-average summer so far in most parts of the UK, so what better time to play with water! I have very happy memories of playing with water in my childhood, from paddling in a shallow stream on Dartmoor to having water fights with friends in our back garden.

You can cover all areas of learning and development through water play, here are some examples:

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

  • Water play is a great opportunity to play collaboratively and cooperate with other children. For example, encourage the children to work together in a group to make a water run out of sections of drainpipe and a wooden pallet.
  • Encourage children to develop their understanding of sharing by taking it in turns using a slide into a paddling pool, or when blowing bubbles.

Communication and Language

  • Extend children’s vocabulary by using language associated with water play: splish, splash, splosh, wet, dry, soaking, float, sink etc.
  • Encourage children to maintain attention and concentration by providing exciting opportunities to play with water, e.g. linking piping with funnels and water-wheels.
  • Read stories and rhymes which relate to water, such as At the Waterhole by Beth Shoshan and The Snail and the Whale or Sharing a Shell by Julia Donaldson.

Physical Development

  • Use water pistols to aim at targets as this will develop children’s hand-eye coordination and offer sponges and squeezy bottles to use to develop their manipulative skills.
  • Buckets or larger watering cans support gross motor development and using pipettes or tweezers to squirt water or pick up shiny pebbles from under the water support the development of children’s fine motor skills.
  • Explain to the children the importance of keeping safe in the sun, drinking lots of water and staying cool.


  • Encourage the children to mark-make using brushes and water on the ground, fences or on tree trunks.
  • Offer children opportunities to record their observations about floating or sinking objects or label a picture about where rain comes from.


  • Present children with many different objects to explore floating and sinking. Many children assume that big or heavy objects sink and small or light objects float, so include some with surprising results, such as a heavy log, a paperclip, an apple and pear.
  • Offer the children plenty of opportunities to experiment with different-sized bottles and containers to encourage them to think about capacity.

Understanding the World

  • Talk to the children about where we find water and what we can use it for.
  • Add water to the mud kitchen so that children can mix concoctions and make mud pies more easily and offer them everyday utensils such as sieves, whisks and ladles to use.

Expressive Arts and Design

  • Freeze some water-based paint in ice lolly containers to make your own ice paints.
  • Encourage creative thinking by asking some questions such as: “What if water wasn’t wet?” or “Why is the sea blue?” You do not have to have the answers, simply engage in the thinking process and consider how we can find out. Some questions can be so silly that you can all laugh together, for example, “What if sharks wore bikinis?!”
  • Promote imaginative play by introducing small world play around themes such as Under the Sea; mermaids/men, seahorses, sharks, dolphins and whales or pirates.

Playing with water is fun but it’s important to remember to always supervise the children and remain vigilant at all times.  When you have finished playing with water, remember to not tip it down the drain, instead, use it with the children to water some plants and explain how water helps the plants to grow.  You may also want to talk to older children about how there are some places in the world where they do not have enough water.  You may like to do a sponsored event for a charity like WaterAid who change millions of lives every year by providing clean water.

About the author

Tamsin GTamsin Grimmer photo2rimmer is an experienced early years consultant and trainer and parent who is passionate about young children’s learning and development. She believes that all children deserve practitioners who are inspiring, dynamic, reflective and committed to improving on their current best. Tamsin particularly enjoys planning and delivering training and supporting early years practitioners and teachers to improve outcomes for young children.

Tamsin has written two books – Observing and Developing Schematic Behaviour in Young Children and School Readiness and the Characteristics of Effective Learning.

You can contact Tamsin via Twitter @tamsingrimmer, her Facebook pagewebsite or email info@tamsingrimmer.co.uk

Keeping children safe in the summer sun

Keeping children safe in the summer sun

Last month, Britain experienced a heatwave which saw temperatures soar to 34.5 °C in some parts of the country. The Met Office said that we experienced the hottest day in June for 40 years, and it was the first time the mercury hit 30°C or over on five consecutive days in June since 1995!

With school holidays just around the corner and (hopefully) more beautiful summer weather in store, we thought we’d go through the safety and wellness issues that need to be considered when temperatures start climbing.

  1. Limiting sun exposure

The sun is at its strongest between 11am and 3pm, so it’s best to avoid going out for extended periods of time during these peak hours. If children are playing outdoors when it’s hot, there should be plenty of shaded areas where they can rest and cool down.

  1. Gearing up to go in the sun

Clothing is an effective line of defence against the sun’s harmful rays, and it can protect our skin by absorbing or blocking radiation. The more surface area clothing covers, the more effectively it can do this.  

The head and neck area can be particularly vulnerable to sun exposure, so a wide-brimmed hat (3 inches or greater, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation) or one with a long flap at the back is ideal for protecting children’s skin.  

  1. Lathering up with lotion

Applying sunscreen is another important measure to avoid the risk of sunburn. The product should protect against the sun’s UVA (short wave) and UVB (long wave) rays. Most brands of children’s sun cream are hypoallergenic but it’s worth checking that the brand you use is, as it can help reduce skin irritation.

If children are moving in and out of paddling pools or running around and sweating, it’s also important to reapply the lotion on a regular basis.

  1. Safe water play

Young children can drown in less than 2 inches (6 centimetres) of water and the Fire Brigade website states that most drownings occur between the months of May and August. So, whilst engaging in water play is a great way to cool children down, it’s important to remain vigilant and supervise them at all times.

Last month, our guest blogger Tamsin Grimmer gave us lots of fantastic ideas for fun water play.

  1. Tackling allergies

Allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever, tends to be most prevalent in spring, but it can persist well into summer. Hay fever occurs when the body reacts to allergens in the atmosphere, such as pollen spores.  Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include runny noses, watery or itchy eyes and sneezing. There should be an agreement with parents as to what course of action will be taken to manage their child’s allergies.

Another possible danger to look out for is that presented by stinging insects. Most times, stings are painful but harmless but in some cases children can have a severe reaction which leads to anaphylactic shock. It’s worth updating your records with parents over the summer so staff know which children are at risk.

  1. Staying hydrated

When the temperature starts rising, it’s more important than ever for everyone to stay hydrated. Rather than just drinking water, there are plenty of fruit and vegetables with high water content which can be added to mealtimes to keep children hydrated in the hotter weather. These foods can be kept in the fridge or freezer to keep them cool before being consumed:

  • Water melon
  • Oranges
  • Celery
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes (cut lengthwise)
  • Cucumber

With sun-filled days approaching, there is clearly lots to consider when keeping children happy, healthy and safe at your setting. Taking some of the steps highlighted above will help lessen some of the risks associated with summer, and help everyone have a much more enjoyable time whilst making the most of the sunshine. 

What do you do to keep children at your setting cool during hot days? Let us know by emailing marketing@parenta.com with your suggestions.


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