Ask Hello. Should I Use the Water Table During a Drought?
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NAEYC’s HELLO online forum is a great place to have conversations and create connections with peers around important early learning issues.
Excerpts from HELLO have been edited for style and length.
What are your thoughts on using water table play during a drought? It has many benefits to the children, but is it wasteful? What are your thoughts on this, and how can I reach a compromise?
If I use water in one area, I use less in another area. For example, I make sure we have a full batch of wash, and I cut back on watering the grass. It’s a cost/benefit analysis. If you think of using a certain allotment of water, just think about how you will allocate the amount you have. Think about what is most important and what is not as important. Can you cut back on watering the grass—not give it up—but just cut back only the amount you would put in a water table? Then when the children are finished with the water, you might take it outside and pour it on the grass. This will help the children learn about conservation.
We use rain barrels for watering plants to cut back on water use. This takes focus away from water tables, and we still get wet, learn, and have fun.
Talk with your children about water and how we use it. Share with them pictures of what local lakes look like right now. Ask others to come in to talk with the children about their concerns about water use at the center. Then, support your children as they discuss how they can use less water. Talk about the water table, how much water we need to use, and how we can reuse this water. Perhaps they can use it to water plants or flush the toilet. The water table will potentially provide your children with a sensory experience, with a connection to the larger world, and with a life concept to act on. My guess is that the children in your class are capable of learning about climate change, our drought, how to use less water, and how to reuse water. The water table is the perfect vehicle for doing this.
Do you have a garden or plants in your outdoor learning environment? If you can repurpose the water to feed a thirsty plant, you’d eventually be sending the water back to the earth.
Do you have questions or suggestions to share with your peers? Are you simply interested in reading different takes from early childhood educators around the country? Tap into the vibrant discussions on HELLO at hello.NAEYC.org/welcomehello.
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