Splish Splash! Indoor Water Play Activities For Kids

Eleanor Larbi
Jan 24, 2024 By Eleanor Larbi
Originally Published on Apr 28, 2020
Age: 0-99
Read time: 5.4 Min

You don't need a garden to set up some fun water play activities for your little one at home. Indoor water play activities are a failsafe option for keeping kids entertained and stimulated, and there's minimal mess. Yes, things might get a bit wet, but lay down a waterproof mat or a few towels and you're sorted.

Indoor water play is a relaxing, soothing activity that your child can absorb themselves in quietly for a whole morning. The repetitive nature of indoor water activities - scooping, filtering and pouring, can have little ones quietly mesmerised for hours. Small children develop their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as they pour water from one container into another, and exercise their imaginations as they experiment with different ways to enjoy the water. They also learn some of the fundamentals of physics as they observe some objects floating and others sinking. They get more of an idea of capacity, and how some containers can hold more than others. They can also concoct potions and create mountains of bubbles, getting in an early chemistry lesson!

You can find more fun sensory activities and messy play ideas from Kidadl here.


Sensory Scoop and Pour Station

What you'll need:

Storage container/washing up bowl

Containers of various sizes (Tupperware/plastic bottles/cups etc)

Ladle/draining spoon/sieve/funnel


How it works:

Grab a clean washing up bowl or storage box and fill with water. This will be your sensory bin. You can either create a water table or lay your water station out on the floor. Consider putting some plastic bags or sheeting down to protect your surface, or simply have some towels around for mopping up spills.

Provide a variation of tools and containers for your child to experiment with. You could add some plastic cups and Tupperware containers for them to pour water into, as well as some items that can't hold water, such as a funnel or a sieve. You might even toss in a Calpol syringe for them to practice sucking up and expelling water from! Why not throw in a paper cup and let them see how it disintegrates after a while in the water.

The idea is to give your child a relaxing but stimulating play session as well as allowing them to see how a container must be both waterproof and not full of holes in order to hold water! They'll develop their fine motor skills with all their pouring and filtering and have hours of fun at the same time.

You can also mix it up a bit by adding a few drops of food colouring to the water or some glitter. You can add bubble bath or gentle dish soap for some bubbles, or let them add these things themselves. If using colouring, make sure you put something on the carpet to protect it from coloured splashes.

Try putting out a few cups with different temperature of water in them. Maybe some ice cubes.

Aquarium Sensory Bin

A fun variation of the water play sensory station, the aquarium bin lets kids explore the depths of the ocean with just a few inches of water and a net.

What you'll need:

See-through plastic container such as storage bin

Plastic sea creatures

Small fishing net




Plants (to recreate seabed algae)

How it works:

Line your sensory bin with sand or gravel and scatter with shells. You can bury some long bits of grass or whatever else you have around to simulate seabed vegetation. Fill your box with water and let gravel and sand settle. Drop-in some rocks. Throw in some plastic sea creatures and wind-up ocean toys if you have them and let your child dive in with their fishing net.

This is a great indoor water activity to use to practice fine motor and sorting skills. Children can scoop up different things from their bin and sort them into categories. Plant, animal, mineral for example. You can also dye the water blue if you want a real aquarium feel.

Child playing with bubble

Baby Bath

Boys and girls will love giving baby a bath with the soap mum uses to wash them!

What you'll need:

Baby toy

Warm water

Bubble bath

Baby shower gel or soap

Bucket/storage bin/washing up bowl



How it works:

Fill a large container with warm water and let your child fill it with bubble bath and swish away to create a mountain of bubbles. They can then put the baby in and wash the baby clean with the soap and sponge. Afterwards, they can dry baby and put its clothes back on. They can go on to wash the rest of their plastic toys!

This indoor water play activity is a roleplaying exercise, with your child taking the part of the caregiver. The baby bath sensory bin lets children practice caregiving and empathy and involves loads of bubbles and soothing scents. A full-on sensory experience!

Tea-Time Sensory Bin

Does your little one love watching you make cups of tea? Do they like ripping tea bags up? Well, they can now make their own tea and rip up as many bags as they like in their own teatime sensory bin.

What you'll need:

Large container

Teabags (variation if you have different types)

Warm water




Milk (optional)

Sugar/honey (optional)

How it works:

If you have a variety of teabags the kids can make different coloured teas and sample different flavours. Provide them with a see-through plastic bin or similar container and lay out an assortment of tea bags, cups, teaspoons and sugar and honey if you like. Fill a teapot with warm water and fill some large bowls with water for them to use for refills if you want.

They can then make cups of tea the traditional way, experimenting with milk and sugar and strength, or rip the teabags up and play with the contents. This activity is messy but is sure to keep kids entertained for a good amount of time. Added bonus - they will be one step closer to being able to make you a cup of tea all by themselves by the end of it.

This can turn into a full-on dolly's tea party or you can sample your kids' concoctions yourself at their sensory play tea table!

You can also vary this activity by providing squash concentrate, ice cubes, straws, drink powders etc. for them to have a go at concocting a variety of potions. They will love sampling their own creations!

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Written by Eleanor Larbi

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Eleanor Larbi

Living in Brighton with her three-year-old daughter, Eleanor loves exploring new environments and discovering fun activities to do together. A cinema enthusiast, she enjoys going to see the latest kids' movies and indulging in some popcorn. She also loves visiting London to explore new places to eat and exciting activities. In her spare time, this person is training to become a complementary therapist and has a keen interest in mindfulness

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