With the summer heat coming on in full force, it’s time to cool off with a fun fine motor water activity designed specifically for toddlers!

It’s a simple, easy prep, engaging fine motor project toddlers will love.  And speaking of more things kids will love, check out our Ultimate Preschool Activity Pack in our shop!

Even with the summer heat, there is no reason to keep the learning and skill work indoors. In this toddler fine motor activity, I gave my preschool class some special items to use in our water tub. Not only did they love playing in the cold water on a hot sunny morning, but their little hands got a workout as they developed fine motor strength. And one of the best parts of this activity is that it only requires items that you probably already have on hand.


To prep, I gathered my materials:

  • shallow tub for water bin
  • small plastic cups
  • clean, empty school glue bottles (probably left over from making slime)

Let me begin by stating that since this activity involves the use of water, no matter how shallow, the children playing should always be supervised by a responsible adult. Do not leave your child (or students) alone near water.

I filled a shallow tub with about three inches of water. I like to use a cement mixing tub from the hardware store. Its thick plastic holds up really well and does not get brittle after a summer in the sun. Any sort of shallow tub will work, though. You can try an under-the-bed storage tote or even a wide mixing bowl.

I placed a few small cups in the water tub. Then, I filled the clean school glue bottles with water and added those as well. For this part, you could opt for colored water, too, which is always super fun.

Fine Motor Water Activity

With the prep complete, I invited my students to come and explore the water activity.

It takes a lot of hard work and energy to squeeze out all the water in the glue bottles. For toddler hands, this really helps strengthen those fine motor muscles needed for writing a few years down the road. As the muscles in the hands, wrist and forearm continue to get stronger, the ease of holding a pencil gets easier.

squeezing bottles fine motor activity - Playdough to Plato

Once the students had squeezed all the water out of the glue bottles, some tried to fill them back up by pushing on the bottle while it was under water. The student above found that to take too long, so she instead unscrewed the glue top (another fine motor activity) and filled it up under water.

squirting water fine motor play - Playdough to Plato

This student tried using the glue bottles to squeeze water into a cup. Being newly two years-old, he didn’t have the coordination to hold the cup in one hand and squirt with the other, so I helped ease his frustration by holding the cup for him. He filled the cup about halfway before his attention was given to other play in the water tub, and that is ok.

squirting water fine motor activity - Playdough to Plato.2

This student just turned three, so she was more capable of holding the cup in one hand while squirting the bottle with the other hand. This kind of multitasking is also important for developing scissor skills. I love how this shot shows her hand squeezing down on the bottle while the water shoots out. What a feat of strength!

So much of my summer preschool program involves taking our learning outdoors, and a water activity like this one is just the thing to keep my students cool while we work on various skills. Not only does it provide my preschoolers with great fine motor practice, but it adds a wonderful sensory element. And my preschoolers loved it, which is always a sign of success!


Check out our Ultimate Preschool Activity Pack filled with motivating fine motor activities, preschool math games and ABC activities kids LOVE.

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