Many local residents have been lobbying for a Splash Pad in the Kemptville area, going so far as to start a petition to present to Council in the near future. Typically our daycare is a bit too full to accommodate such an adventure, but having a smaller group at times over the summer, we ventured all the way into “the city” to enjoy one of their splash pads. Apart from the obvious fun of playing in the water, and exploring different types of water spouts and sprays, I had the time to reflect on what we were really learning at the splash pad.
First, we learned about waiting and anticipation. One has to “magically” activate the water, and not all the “devices” start at the same time. Our helper showed the younger children the big water collecting cup that spilled over with a tremendous splash from several feet up once it reached its tipping point. Many times the children were able to join in the waiting and anticipation standing under the cup, half dreading, half exploding with delight, while awaiting the upcoming “splooosh”.
Second, we practiced running over, under and through the water, the water cannons were especially helpful in creating this learning experience. We shared the words to one of our favourite series of books (Going on a Bear/Nature/Lion Hunt) while we tried this activity… “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, guess we’ll have to go through it.” So I think the third thing would be literacy!
Fourth and Fifth on our list, the smaller spouts in the ground were fun for jumping over, but also helped us to explore cause and effect. If you step on one, the other goes higher. I think there are some lessons here about force and water pressure too…
Sixth was music – we can do the “Hokey Pokey” with our body parts going in and out of the water – now that’s fun!
Seventh was more “physics” type learning. There is a giant pinwheel that spins with the force of the water at the park we visited. We also were able to explore some other aspects of force by talking about what happens when we use our hands and feet to stop or divert the water.
Geometry! Water cannons make different sized “arcs” based on the angle that we put the cannon at, and how much water pressure is coming through the cannon.
Nine and ten on my list are emotional and social learning. Taking turns, sharing delight with our friends, learning that we can be a little bit scared and that can be fun! It’s also about trust; children feeling anxious or unsure of new situations and experiences and having trust in their caregivers to “feel the fear and do it anyway” (an expression borrowed from my past life in sales).
So I found ten "educational" things for children to enhance their growth and development at the Splash Pad (probably more), AND we had fun, AND we were outside playing and running (something too few children do daily). So, could I make a case for the "educational value" of a splash pad in Kemptville? I think so.
If you are interested in signing the petition, here is the link: