Little kids love to pour liquids from one container into another — but they’re not great at it. That’s because precise pouring is not a skill one can learn by watching another person do it; they have to practice it themselves to learn how to control the flow.
I have written in the past that water is the ultimate parenting hack, and this idea, from Susie Allison at Busy Toddler, further emphasises the point: Allison pulls out a plastic tub and about 10 different drinking cups, small pitchers, and measuring cups (if you have a plastic tea set, all the better), adds some water — the amount “depends on the kid and their mood” — and lets them start pouring.
Depending on their motor skill development and interest, a lot of kids are ready to try activities like this starting at around 18 months old (or even earlier), and they’re likely to enjoy it well into their preschool years. The first few times you do this activity you might want to set it up in the bathtub, outside, or on the kitchen floor with a towel laid down underneath the container. Once they are a little more practiced, they can graduate to the kitchen table.
Allison also says she adds a little food colouring to jazz things up a bit — but just a few drops, so they don’t end up staining their clothing or the towel.
While we’re at it, here are some other water play ideas to get you through: