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Why (& How) You should Add Water Play to Your ECE Playspace

Water is a natural element that adds a sensory dimension to a playspace. Children can spend hours playing with water, simply having fun developing and learning. Its benefits can be extended by mixing in natural materials such as sand or mud to encourage more hands-on play.

Water play also provides calming benefits and aids the development of children’s creativity, imagination, and fine and gross motor skills. It also provides the setting for children to develop their social skills as they work together to manipulate this element.

Download the full guide: The Elements of Play

Creo water play options


Water tap

Timber post with tap fixed at child’s height. Locking key tap so adults can adjust when on and the flow rate. Different lengths of hose or hose splitters can be added to this option to extend play value.




Branch log

This option is connected to a tap and if a hose is not used, the water flows down the log. This option is more sensory as the water can be held or splashed in or played with as it moves down the log. Sand and other natural materials can be used to divert or block the stream of flow. This option is great for younger children who are still learning or wobbly on their feet; the frame of the log allowing them to pull themselves up and assisting them while they stand and play.


Stream with river rocks

This option can be used with either a branch log or simple water tap set up. It adds a much greater ability for cognitive, social and imaginative play as children can work to dam, divert, capture or change the flow paths of the water. With this option there is more scope for gross motor skills development through activities such as splashing or jumping in water puddles.



Considerations when selecting water play options


Available Space

Just adding a water tap to the side of a sandpit maximises play value of the sandpit without requiring additional space. A branch log also takes up little room. By contrast, a rock water channel requires much more space.


Some sites are on a slope which is the perfect situation for a water channel. The slope of the site provides the ‘fall’ required to naturally move water from one place to another. In this way, water play can be used to enhance an otherwise difficult site topography.


When selecting your water play options, the cost factor should be balanced out with the benefits the items bring. It’s also important to consider what else in your playspace will the water play feature complement.

Surrounding Environment

Some centres are urban and the children at the centre may not have the opportunity for water play at home or in the surrounding community. Other centres might be in a coastal town, or near a stream, where water play is a natural part of the children’s daily lives.






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