With just water there became a lot more splashing and a lot less engagement compared to when we used ice only. Containers incited a love for scooping and pouring the water but very quickly led to dumping water out onto the floor or bodies. This was expected, though, because it is soooo satisfying to dump! To just turn something over and see it rapidly empty out before your eyes is a very satisfying thing indeed- especially if you are a toddler.
Adding color, though, proved to give us a higher level of engagement than even just ice alone. I wasn't sure how this would go as it was yet another feature to our already very busy work. Setting the colored water up in a certain way helped to engage children rather than overwhelm them. Also having children present during the process of setting up increased their ownership over the colored water play.
First, I took the empty spice jars and rack out of the studio. I squirted various amounts of color into each jar with the children present in the kitchen, talking to them about what I was doing. Some children were very interested while others simply played in the adjoining rooms. I did not ask them to stay in the kitchen or continue to observe me, instead offering them the chance to decide for themselves what worked best for their bodies. Next, I added water to each spice jar until it was full then placed it into the rack. After each spice jar was full, I set them aside while I readied the next pieces of our play.
I filled a blue tub with water and found a few other containers for pouring into and out of. I placed a blanket on the floor of the kitchen to signal to the children what area the water would be used on. I placed the blue tub, smaller containers, and the spice rack filled with color on the ground. The last step was to bring the ice cubes out of the freezer and onto our blanket.
As the children came over to play some were interested in splashing the water. Others were interested in the spice jars and worked on figuring out how to open them. Yet another child wanted to put the ice in his mouth. It seemed to bring him great happiness to simply have an ice cub in his mouth while playing. All of the children were mesmerized when a spice jar was finally open and poured slowly into the blue tub with water. The color slowly mixed into the clear water. I have to admit it was a rather amazing thing to watch. It had been a long time since I had simply observed the mixing of two different fluids together!
As you can see from the pictures, we've repeated this play quite often in the last few weeks. The children have continued to enjoy the water play immensely and have moved into a lot of focused pouring and scooping ever since JK joined our group. JK is big on opening, closing, pouring, and scooping so his passion for these actions has inspired the other children to work on those skills as well.