How to Set Up a Quick and Easy Water Play Area

How to Set Up a Quick and Easy Water Play Area

I say ‘area’. What I really mean is a tub full of random junk.

We are spending lockdown at my mum’s (until we all snap and kill each other) so we are without our usual toys. We are however, lucky to now have a garden. This played a big part in our decision to come here when it looked like everything was going to close. There are a fair few childhood playthings still around but I’m trying to sort out little collections for him. Mostly so it’s clear what is a toy and what is a precious, delicate ornament at child height.

The weather is sporadically sunny and D is really enjoying playing with water. Over the course of a few play sessions I added things to a tub and now I am referring to this in my head as the water area. Doesn’t seem like I’m missing having a Nursery classroom at all.

Here it is in all its glory:

I’ll talk you through why I have included each item.

The Tub AKA Something to hold Water

I use the garden hose to fill this to about a quarter of the way up. Generally he plays with it a while then wants to tip over the tub and kick it around the garden for a bit. Today he started flipping it upside down, straddling it and calling it a pumpkin. Valuable learning, I’m sure you’ll agree.

If you have a wider, shallower tray like the builder’s trays you may have seen in a Nursery or Reception classroom, that’s great as well. They can reach the water better and get into sailing things on it.

Watering Cans AKA Something to Garden With

D loves watering the plants. Mostly grass. But we are also tending to some seedlings and today we helped Granny plant a blackcurrant bush. I showed him how to fill the cans by dunking them under the water and watching the bubbles come out. The duck is also vital for hide and seek, as you may have seen in a previous post.

Plant POts AKA Something with Holes In

Anything with holes in is fun and children can experiment by using objects with different sized holes and pouring water in from different heights. I just grabbed two empty plant pots, one small, one larger.

Paintbrush AKA Something to Paint With

Again, just grabbed a big paintbrush I spotted in a cupboard. It is good for children to paint and draw on vertical surfaces and, weirdly, they are generally happy to paint a fence with water. D is particularly keen on getting the shed done. I was amazed today when he left the lunch table and toddled off outside on his own. He dipped the brush in the water tub in the middle of the grass, scampered to the shed, painted it a bit and scampered back to do it again. He did this independently for over 5 minutes, which might not sound like a lot but is a record for him!

Measuring Cups AKA Something to Scoop and Fill

Any small containers, jugs, pots etc are great. Different sizes and shapes if you can. These ones are actually Rosemary Conley diet measuring cups, one of which has lost a handle. Proof they don’t need to be purpose-bought or anywhere near fancy.

Scrubbing Brush AKA Something to Clean With

Similar to the painting, kids love to clean. You can use an old washing-up brush or a sponge. This one is, I think, a brush for wallpaper that was my dad’s. D has spent time dunking this brush and scrubbing the shed, bench, some chairs and a garden waste bin. Good for physical development and, crucially, if you have plenty of garden furniture it might provide enough time to make a cup of tea.

Quick and Easy

And that’s it! We tidy up by chucking all the stuff into the tub. I mean the Water Area.

On my wish list of things to add is some piping and a bit of guttering/drainpipe. These might not be lying around every house but who knows what I might find if I rummage deeper into the shed. Especially now it’s nice and clean.

If you don’t have a garden you can do this on a smaller scale in the bathroom or on a safe balcony. Simply use a smaller tub or tray and smaller objects. You can also use the sink or bath itself for slightly easier cleanup.

Have a look around your house, garden or shed and see if you can throw together a state-of-the-art water area too.

Tag me in your collections @treehousemolly and ask any questions at