The inclusion of activities to develop sensory awareness, spatial thinking, and physical dexterity, operationalized through hands-on science lessons such as water play, have long been part of early childhood education. This practical article addresses Next Generation Science Standards K-2 ETS1-3 and K-2 ETS1-2 by having four-year-old prekindergarten students direct the path of water on a vertical pegboard water table with strategically-placed, attached plastic cups with holes drilled into them that leak streams of water into each other. Students enhanced their retelling of the story of the Billy Goats Gruff by placing student-made watercolor artwork along the path of the water, which represented the stream in the story. Students devised a variety of working solutions to guide the path of the water from the upper right to the lower left of the vertical water table. Students grew in confidence and skill as they voiced and tested their solutions. They also enjoyed retelling the story of the Billy Goats Gruff from the beginning of the water stream to the end, using the illustrations they had made. Later, students created their own challenges on the water table. Through play and exploration, students were able to test their spatial designs, incorporate literacy and art, and work on social-emotional skills while being actively engaged in their endeavors.
Cline, J. E., & Smith, B. A. (2016). Water play. Journal of STEM Arts, Crafts, and Constructions, 1(2), 16-22.