- Water table or basin
- Plastic containers with lids or large thermoses
- Paintbrushes (medium and large)
- Sponges of different shapes
- Camera and album or poster board
Set Up and Prepare
- Tell families that children will be engaging in an outdoor water-play activity. Ask parents to send in a raincoat to keep their child dry. If you live in a warm climate, this activity can be done in bathing suits.
Step 1: Explain to children that they will be engaging in an outdoor painting activity using water instead of paint. Tell them that they will wear special clothing to keep dry.
Step 2: If you are going to be on the school playground, use a water table or basin for this activity. If you are taking children to a neighborhood playground, carry water in a large thermos or in several covered plastic containers. Remind them not to paint places where people sit, such as benches, swings, or sliding boards.
Step 3: Ask children to put on their water clothing. Give each child a paintbrush and water. Can they draw on the ground with their water?
Step 4: Ask children to watch how long their paintings remain on the ground before disappearing. Do they know why the water disappears? Engage older children in a discussion about evaporation. What happens when they paint in a sunny place? Does water remain longer in a shady area?
Step 5: Give children sponges. Ask them to wet the sponges and squeeze them out on the ground. Then ask them to press the wet sponges on the ground. What happens?
Step 6: Photograph children as they create their water paintings. Document the activity by putting the pictures in a book or on a poster that includes children's dictation or writings about the activity.
For Younger Children
Try drip painting with children. Invite them to soak their brushes in water and then shake them over the pavement or other surfaces where they are "painting."
For Older Children
Assign partners to children. Ask one child to sketch the water painting made by his or her partner as the other child works. Later, encourage children to share their sketches and descriptions with the group.
Spin Off Activity
Engage children in observational activities using water and different types of paper, such as black construction paper, oak tag, foil, wax paper, or tissue paper. Ask them to place each type of paper on the ground in direct sunlight. (They may need to place tape or small rocks on the edges to keep the paper flat.) Then, invite them to pour a small amount of water onto each piece of paper. What happens to each type of paper when it becomes wet? What happens as the water evaporates? Record children's observations.