Gallery 6

Water Play

An overview of the exhibit, with a steel water tub in the front, a wind water pump in the background and a long bench running between them.
Stainless steel water ways with plastic stops allow the water to flow or dam.

Playing with water improves a child’s ability to plan, measure and predict events (such as whether something will float or sink).

How it works

Different exhibit sections have been designed to encourage children to splash, redirect and lift water, or test whether objects float or sink, according to the child's developmental stage.

Things to try or ask around the exhibit

To help your child make the most of
Water Play, ask lots of questions such as, “What do you think will happen if...?” or “What if you used...another way?”.

Also encourage your child to say what they think will happen, then test and re-test their ideas (try to avoid the temptation to show or tell your child the ‘answer’).

Explore with your baby how things behave in water. If you pull a rubber duck under the water, it fl oats to the surface again.

Use cups, funnels and strainers for experimental water play with toddlers.

Guide school aged children to predict, plan and measure simple water experiments, such as creating dams.


Being very tactile and sensual, babies love the feel of water on their skin. They are fascinated by splashing water and bubbles. They tend to regard bubbles as solid objects, so they may be surprised when bubbles burst.

Toddlers love to see the effect of a splash, including the reaction of other people to their splashes—so watch out! Their experimental and excitable play creates a huge mess as they discover how water ‘behaves’.

Pre-schoolers enjoy pouring water from one container to another and watching it overflow--you may have seen this when they pour drinks at home! Be patient, as this helps pre-schoolers to improve their skills of estimation!

At home, school aged children can learn about ingredients that dissolve in water (soluble substances), and how water condenses and evaporates.