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Mud In The Water Tray


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xD Hi all,


firstly I don't want this thread to sound like a moan because it really isn't I would just like some ideas to focus our thoughts and raise a discussion in the setting... :o


We have a large water tray in our outside tray which is located quite close to the water butt and digging area.


The children persistently add mud and stones to the water tray which has caused a bit of unrest amongst the staff!


Recently our pre-school children were playing in the water tray with different depths and coloured water.


When we all went inside for snack time another group were outside and added mud to the water meaning that the pre-school children couldn't return to their play in that area.


This upset the member of staff who has been working there and the usual discussion followed... how can we stop them trashing hte water tray???


But I feel that the children should be free to add whatever they like to the tray, combining resources however they wish - and if this is adequately observed then their play and learning can be understood and perhaps it wouldn't be so annoying for that lovely clear water to be muddied!


However we also have an area which is reserved for mud pies, cooking and general gooey outside play. So perhaps we should provide a water source/tray in that area and discourage the children from using the main tray in this way.


So what I'm really asking is:-

Do you have/see this as a problem?

How do you deal with it? or do you not interfere?

Any other suggestions for what can be discussed with staff?


I really want to get away from 'the cars don't go in the sand', 'that doesn't get used there', etc. but I also know the frustrations when planning learning opportunities don't go the way they were intended! Yet I also feel that they should be let by the child and if they change the intentions and they are observed and noted then that is a good job done.


Any advice?


#Thank you

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Until it stops the original children's play, I'd say it's a staff problem rather than one for the children, so I suppose it's something to discuss probably in a group either by bringing it up and saying 'I know some of you find this challenging, lets talk about it', or by saying 'Lets celebrate how the children are using the water and think how we can extend it further', at which point your aggreived staff will jump up and say 'It's appalling how they mistreat the water and get it all muddy!'


Perhaps have a joint brainstorm on 'what do the children get out of water play'?


But I think another water tray would help so you could suggest to the children 'This one is ok to get muddy, this one we'll try to keep not so muddy so we can see the bubbles in it.'


I know when I used to give my preschool son and nephew water to wash toys/the patio/paint the bikes, I realised I needed 2 containers so one could keep his clean while the other mixed lots of earth into it straight away...

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Have you thought about investing in some long garden trays or a tuff spot from Homebase or B&Q?

sort of like this tray


They woudl be ideal to place by the digging area and then children could be allowed to experiment with mud and water to their hearts content while understanding that the other water tray is for a different purpose?

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I'm with Lyanne on this one. I think unless it stops the play of another group (and just because they have had to leave to do an adult led activity like snack doesn't mean they are not coming back) it is fine for them to explore as they wish. But that said it may be useful to have a second water tray so there can be two types of water play at the same time. However I do think it is the adults who have the problem here.


I also feel that they should be let by the child and if they change the intentions and they are observed and noted then that is a good job done.
In my experience this method of working is a whole lot easier and gets far more from the children. Stick to your guns on it and encourage your staff to plan less and seize opportunities more. But I don't say that it is easy to do!
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I would say it would make sense to get a water tray to go near the mud area, and then maybe move the other water tray as far away from the mud as you can, so that the two types of play can go on without upset to either group of children.


I agree that children should be encouraged to experiment with resources, so having two trays will allow for all children to do that.

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