This just in: spray bottles aren’t just for cleaning up messes or watering plants anymore! A common household item like a spray bottle can be turned into a new toy and used in fun ways as play therapy for kids.
If you don’t already have one hiding under a sink somewhere, you can find small plastic ones for a couple dollars at most grocery stores or pharmacies. They will work across several levels of play and you can use it as an opportunity to model some great language (suggestions listed in parentheses as you read). If you are going to repurpose a bottle you already have, make sure it is one that is only used for water!
Fill up the bottle with water. You can help your kiddo hold the open bottle under the faucet, dunk it in a bucket, or practice their fine motor skills of pouring from a cup. (The bottle is full.)
Spray your child’s hand lightly with water. If they enjoy it, try spraying other body parts. If you pause between spraying, they can request continuation of the game by pointing to or holding up the next body part they want sprayed. (Your hand is wet. I sprayed your belly!) Now it’s your kiddo’s turn! Help your little one take a turn to spray the water on you. (We’re spraying the water. My face is wet!)
Spray a sponge or washcloth and watch as it gets wetter. Squeeze it out and start again. (The sponge is very wet. It’s dripping. You squeezed the sponge. The water came out.)
These are great ways to introduce the spray bottle as a toy, you can always help make these activities more challenging by performing them in different positions! You can choose standing, sitting, kneeling, or even laying on their stomach! This type of play therapy for kids can help strengthen muscles, while also having fun and working on other developmental skills.
You can incorporate the spray bottle into a pretend washing routine. First, spray a toy animal or figure with water, pretend to wash them with a washcloth or rag, rinse, and then dry them off. You can use a toy bathtub or even Tupperware. Incorporate shaving cream or foaming soap to make it extra fun! What a mess!
Give your child a spray bottle and a rag and have them help you pretend to clean (or maybe actually clean!) surfaces around the house. They can even help you water your plants!
You can pretend a dollhouse or a building your kiddo made from magnet tiles or blocks is on fire. Drive a firetruck over and use the spray bottle as a hose to put out the fire.
Set up a pretend car wash! You can use streamers or a duster for the brushes, the spray bottle for the rinse, and a hair dryer for the dry stage, and a towel for the buffing.
Spray water into the air and pretend it’s raining! Time to get out the rain gear! You can include some of their favorite toys like power rangers or dolls and they can splash in the puddles from the rain. If it’s warm outside, maybe you can start a water fight with your little one.
Bonus idea: you can purchase some watercolor paint to add to the water so your child can use the spray bottle to turn a plain piece of paper into art. Make sure to do this outside or in a well-covered area to prevent your kiddo’s artistic imagination from escaping the paper, of course!
These are some simple but fun ideas that you can use to encourage your kid to play with an everyday item they may not have played with before. These can be new ways to challenge their play and make it more fun! Have fun playing pretend and watching your child learn! We also have tons of awesome information on our resources page, including toys and activities to help your child learn and grow.
Written by Sophia Aspin, PT, DPT