Painting letters with water is one of my daycare kids’ favourite outdoor activities in spring, summer and fall. It’s a fun pre-writing activity for preschoolers, and a great way for older kids to practice writing letters, numbers and sight words. It’s a great activity for young children who are learning how to print, and a terrific way for school-aged kids to brush up on their skills over the summer. Bonus: it doubles as a fun water activity for a hot day!
Nicole from Coffee and Carpool joins us today to share this fun, no-mess learning activity with us.
My six-year-old daughter begged me to get out the paint supplies yesterday. But I just wasn’t up for the prep, the mess, and the hassle of it all. I love it when she paints, but I love it more when she paints somewhere other than my house.
Because the paint tends to get everywhere.
When she was younger, she was content to play with this pretend play paint pallet, but now she wants to paint for real.
So we’ve come with a fun painting activity that’s perfect for hot summer days that I always say “yes” to. She paints with water.
And now that she’s older and knows her alphabet, she loves painting letters with water.
My daughter gets a bowl of water and a paintbrush and “paints” pictures on our outside walls and ground.
She loves it, there’s no mess, and it keeps her busy and engaged. She particularly loves to try to make a self-portrait before the water dries out and her painting disappears.
But since my daughter heads into first grade this fall, she’s been super-interested in reading and writing her name and words.
Sneaking in learning in fun ways is always something I’m on the hunt for. So when she needs a break from painting her self-portrait, we spend time on letter recognition.
Painting letters with water is a great pre-writing activity for preschoolers, and it has many benefits for older kids too.
It lets her practice her fine motor skills, reinforces letter recognition and letter sounds, builds spelling skills, encourages name recognition and spelling, and helps her read sight words.
Painting letters with water gets my daughter outside, gets her practicing and learning her letters, and let’s her be creative without the mess.
It’s a triple win.
Why Summer Learning Is So Important:
Summer is perfect for lazy days, exploring the world around us, and trying new things we don’t have time for during the school year.
But because our school-aged kids get the whole summer off from school and learning activities, when fall rolls around, they struggle to remember what they learned the previous year. They forget the difference between writing a “b” and “d” and forget the difference between an /i/ sound and an /e/ sound.
If they haven’t looked at any letters over the summer, they very well may forget the ones they did know.
So instead of hitting the ground running in the fall, ready to dive into the new material, they have to re-learn what they covered the previous spring. Again.
Prevent Summer Slide with Summer Learning
This forgetting of material they’ve already learned is called the summer slide because our kids slide backward academically and fall behind their peers.
But there’s one simple fix: sneaking in some summer learning each and every day.
What is summer learning? It’s anything that helps our kids retain the information they already learned. And it’s getting a head start on learning new skills and concepts they don’t know yet. So it’s practicing letter recognition or reading sight words or knowing how to read and write their name.
And we could sit with paper and pencils and work on these skills, or we could find creative and fun ways to practice her printing and spelling skills..
My daughter and I would both choose the fun way every time.
All we need is a bowl of water and a paintbrush.
Painting Letters with Water:
Painting letters with water is the perfect summer activity because it requires zero prep, sneaks in some fun learning, is mess-free, and can be done in a bathing suit (which is my daughter’s favorite part).
With a bowl of water and a paintbrush, kids can:
- Paint uppercase letters they already know
- Paint lowercase letters they already know
- Paint the whole alphabet in order while they sing the song
- Paint their name
- Paint simple words like “cat” and “hop” and then read them
- Paint sight words or high-frequency words like “the,” “you” and “to”
With your help, kids can:
- Paint the letter that goes with the /b/ sound or /a/ sound to help with sound recognition
- Paint the vowel or middle sound in words you give them: “cup,” “hop,” “bat,” etc.
- Spell words you give them by painting them
Painting Numbers with Water:
Painting with water is also a great way to practice math and number identification, one to one correspondence for counting, and addition skills.
To practice math skills with water painting, kids can:
- Paint any numbers they know
- Paint numbers in order 1-10
- Paint numbers backward 10-1
- Paint only odd numbers or only even numbers
- Paint the answer to 2 + 3
- Paint the number of how many times you clap for them
Our kids can water paint anything their hearts desire.
And when they get tired of painting their name or their letters, they can take a brain break and go back to art for art’s sake.
And they can try to finish a self-portrait again before it dries.
More fun summer activities for kids
Be sure to check out our list of 100 Fun, Summer Activities your Kids can do at Home! It comes with a free list that you can print off and stick on your fridge!
Your kids will never be bored again!
More Letter Learning Activities for Preschoolers:
Nicole Black is a recovering elementary school teacher, a mom to three super busy kids, and mostly survives on strong coffee. She shares her best parenting tips and tricks for intentionally raising kind kids, creating a stronger family connection, and bullying prevention at Coffee and Carpool. Follow her at www.coffeeandcarpool.com or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/coffeeandcarpool