I finally sucked it up and set up a water works section for L. As you may have noticed from my posts about painting, I HATE MESSES! Relinquishing control and allowing my child to potentially make a big mess is hard for me, but the benefits far outweigh my own personal issues, so I did it. I set up one shelf in the kitchen with water works and food prep. I bought some cheap plastic trays with high sides at the dollar store, so water would not spill off of them and they were easily wipeable. I filled a basket with washcloths and put it next to the water works shelf so L could dry up any spills she made. And then I let it go.
The first work on our water works shelf is water pouring. Simple, yet highly satisfying for a two-year-old! I took two small vases that were favors from a wedding we attended a few years ago. I filled one about halfway with water, then put the two vases on a tray. I dyed the water blue with food coloring so it was easily visible (the pics have two different colors of water in them… sorry!).
When L found the water works shelf, she put her hands on her cheeks and yelled, “Happy!” She’s a pretty silly kid. As she carried the tray to the table, I told her, “Slowly!” Now every time she carries a water work she repeats, “Slowly. Slowly. Slowly.” I showed her how to pour one into the other. Water pouring requires hand control and hand-eye coordination. The repetition of pouring the water from one container to the other builds concentration and focus. Even spills provide an opportunity for care of the environment, as L gets a washcloth to clean up her mess. This work also allows for a discussion of “empty” and “full.” L often sits with this work for 20+ minutes at a time! It is definitely one of her favorites.