Baby Play: Baby Pool Play

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

Baby pool play is a staple of my weekly after-storytime play. Baby pools are incredibly versatile, acting as a ball pit, a storage bin for puppets, or a container for some extra messy sensory play.

There is no end to the types of items you can put in a baby pool. My favorites include:

  • Ball Pit Balls
  • Pool Noodle Pieces (supervise–watch for chewing)
  • Easter Grass
  • Shredded Paper
  • Unrolled receipt paper
  • Puppets
  • Balloons
  • 2″+ Pom Poms

Messy items can be put in a smaller bin that is placed inside the larger baby pool. This helps contain the mess (at least a little). Messy play items can include:

  • Rice
  • Sand
  • Beans
  • Water

How to Make

Materials: hard-plastic baby pool, choice of filling

Steps:

  • Fill pool with chosen materials

Cost: $10+ (cost depends on audience size and choice of filling)

Time to Make: < 5 minutes

Pro-Tip: Hard plastic pools are more durable than inflatable pools and are a little harder for babies to flip over, dumping out the contents (sometimes including other babies). However, inflatable pools are easier to store and accomplish the same goal.

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • What does the ball feel like?
  • How many balls can you pick up at once?
  • Can you hide your arms under the balls?
  • How much grass/paper can you pick up?
  • Can you put the grass on your head?
  • Can you find a yellow pool noodle?
  • What color is the pool noodle?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity:

Accumulate
Beneath
Bury
Cover
Crinkle
Deep

Drift
Float
Hidden
Itchy
Light
Mound

Mountain
Pile
Smooth
Swim
Tear
Underneath

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