Girl playing in sprinkler.

Playing in the sprinkler is always a summertime favorite.

Photograph by Andrea Kalis, My Shot

Catherine D. Hughes

It's summertime! A great time to imagine dolphins swimming or elephants growing up! Whether playing at a neighborhood swimming pool, in a backyard pool, or running through a sprinkler, water play provides opportunity for all kinds of fun.

Have your child think about how a dolphin, since it's an air-breathing mammal, must come to the surface of the water to breathe. Help your child practice blowing bubbles underwater in the pool or tub as they learn to breathe as they swim. Talk about how plants, like animals, need water. Have your child water a plant and watch the water sink into the soil. Discuss how the roots beneath the surface draw the water into the plant, keeping it alive. Continue the conversation by chatting about how all living things depend on water. Ask your child to name all the ways your family uses water—drinking, cooking, bathing, washing clothes, etc.

Summer is a great time to play simple ball games outdoors, providing an opportunity to practice motor skills as you practice numbers and letters. Play these games with a ball that bounces well, such as a tennis ball or a small basketball. Ask your child to count how many times in a row he can bounce the ball on the ground and catch it. Have fun learning and practicing letters by tossing the ball back and forth as your child spells her name, simple words, or recites the alphabet with each toss.

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