Learning Through Play: Water!

Before I became a primary school teacher, I trained and worked as a nursery nurse. My 'dissertation' equivalent had the rather considerable and earnest title of "The Importance of Play as a Part of a Child's Development". That was written 15 years ago when I conducted a comparative study between the pre-school establishments in Denmark and those in Wales. A group of my fellow students went out to visit a range of nurseries and took a whole load of photographs for me, while I poured over reference books and a fledgling Internet search engine.

What was hugely apparent back then was how the Scandinavians viewed education to be something that evolved through the child's natural curiosity and desire to learn and understand their world. At the time, nursery education in Wales was still incredibly formal and started at three years lasting a year before little Myfanwy or Dafydd entered formal schooling (as is still the case). In Denmark, children don't start formal education until the age of six which allows them time to be infants before the stiff structure of schooling.

The reason that I mention all of this is because The Boy is 21 months old now and I am fortunate that when he starts his formal education, he will enter into The Foundation Phase. This shift in the style of schooling has been heavily influenced by the Scandinavian model, and sees children exploring their world, getting mucky, playing with toys in a guided manner.

So after a wander around my school's nursery last week, I pinched their ideas and came home and set up a water-play area in the garden!

Do you know what that equals? A whole lot of fun!

Our garden is already quite child-friendly; swing, slide, a cube climbing frame and a playhouse. However, I wanted a messy area. Somewhere that he can mess around with water and dig and get dirty, just like children should. Somewhere he can find insects and bugs and learn about nature. I used to adore my garden as a child and I want The Boy to feel the same way.

Therefore on Saturday I decided to get creative with the above equipment. This is the result:

The educationalist in me will point out the scientific development and vocabulary learnt: pour, empty, full, splash, down, up. That's in addition to the mathematical enhancement when he started pointing out the shapes: triangle, square (ok so it was a diamond, but he was trying) and circle.

The mummy in me will highlight the pride when my son learnt that the water he poured into the funnel came out of the tube a metre away. Or when he was pouring water from one can to another.

The big kid in me is too busy splashing in the mud to care!

The next step is to surrender one of my small vegetable patches to a digging area and 'mini-beast' hotel for him!

This post has been submitted to the Tots100 March Blog Hop.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. says

    looks like fun!
    The boys trousers look just like Jacks did today when he had the washing up bowl out on the slide with his dinosaurs & creepy crawlies in, he's getting that ELC sand & water table from Grandma for his birthday so hopefully that will keep him out of mischief!
    Very cute pics

  2. Jennie says

    Using teacher training and experience as a Mummy is great fun isn't it? We have different areas in our house already and will soon get started on the garden. Great post, I really loved it. Thanks for sharing such fab ideas x

  3. says

    I Love Love Love this post.
    It's the sort of thing I want to scream from the rooftops…. in addition to removing Barbie dolls from little girls pushchairs and spelling out to some Mums that a bucket and spade, puddles and a corner of the garden especially left untouched for little Boo's to ransack and explore in …. is in essence a massive part of what growing from toddlerdom to child coping in school, with a basic level of understanding of what the world is all about.

    Splashing, squelching, cutting, pasting, pouring, dressing up, pretending making mess and lots of challenging outdoor tasks (climbing, building, balancing, etc.) are just as important as attempts to write your name and count to ten or to be able to draw an exact replica of Mummy, Daddy, Baby & the Dog!!!

    I think that we have to be thankful for the emphasis that Scandanavian countries have put on the pre-school years and I do wonder when we will follow suit, as even across the Atlantic (Canada & the US) children start school at '6'.

  4. says

    This is fantastic. We've spent the afternoon in the garden and had lots of fun digging, sorting and watering plants and watering everything in site.

    Love the photos too, love how The Boy seems to enjoy everything he does and puts so much into it, his concentration is lovely to see x

  5. Lisawhite18 says

    Oh wow!!! That looks brilliant 🙂 I'd love to be able to do that at work. The pics are amazing and just show how much The boy is thoroughly enjoying himself and how involved he is….just fantastic x

  6. Mcai7td3 says

    That looks likea lot of fun! And definitely better than plinking child in front of xbox and the like. I remember doing things like this at school and then over the years it just seemed to disappear. (I mean for other young kids, not me). No doubt because of "curriculum". Bring back fun!

  7. says

    A really inspiring post, I feel like going out in my garden now and setting up a messy area especially for my Little Bean BUT it's nearly midnight and I've got my PJ's on! Don't want the neighbours thinking I've escaped from somewhere so will leave it for now 😉


  1. […] you inner educationalist and big kid and join TheBoyandMe as they play in the water garden. Written from the perspective of a teacher with specialist interest in play, this is a fascinating […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *