As the temperature's dropped, you've probably packed away your splash pool or water play table, leaving it to sit idle for the next 8 months or so.
But they can be used throughout the year if you're prepared to dress your children in their tattiest clothes, and let them get messy.
Splash pools and water tables make great vessels for sensory play activies as they contain the mess well, and are easy to clean.
Here's some ideas from Wicken for tactile play. Most aren't designed to fill the splash pool, but make use of its size as a way of containing the mess.
#1 Oats Great for outdoor use, for younger children. Use a 1kg bag of cheap own brand oats, and combine with some cups, containers, spades and spoons. This makes a great winter alternative to water play as the oats pour and flow like a liquid, but won't make your little one feel cold.
#2 Cereal Supermarket own brand cereals cost around 6p per 100g. For just £1 you can buy enough crisped rice or cornflakes for a whole afternoon's entertainment. This crunchiness of this play material adds a layer of sound to the sensory experience, and picking up individual flakes or puffs of rice is great for fine motor skills. You can even add water for another dimension in play, and talk about how the water has changed the texture of the cereal, and how it is all clumping together now. Be warned though that wet cereal is much harder to clean up.
#3 Foam Sand Let your child mix up a bowl of play sand with a can of spray shaving foam. It makes a light textured whippy sand, which holds together much better than regular sand. Great for painting with, burying treasure in, or making models.
#4 Super Stretchy Dough Mix one cup of cornflour, with 2 teaspoons of cooking oil, and half a cup of washing up liquid. Mix together, then knead the dough until it loses its tackiness. You will be left with a super stretchy play dough. Why the splash pool? Because the most fun thing to do with this play dough is stand up, gently separate a piece off, and let it drop to the floor, creating a super long stretchy piece of dough spaghetti. Repeat enough times and your child will be surrounded by a pool of wiggly worms. For extra fun add some glitter to the dough.
#5 Sparkly Cup Cakes Make a whole tray (or pool) full of cup cakes. You'll need some washing up sponges, shaving foam and some glitter. Cut the sponges into circles to use as the cake base. Then squirt shaving foam on the top just like cup cake frosting. Finally top with glitter sprinkles.
#6 Jackson Pollock Paintings Line the bottom of the pool with paper, then set out a tray of water based paints, paintbrushes, spoons, and other utensils. Encourage your child to drop the paints onto the paper using the different instruments, and to wave the utensils about to give different effects.