Early Literacy in Everyday Places: Bathtime Fun!

Scrub a dub-dub, time for early learning in the tub!

Bathtime is a key transition time for young children. It is the bridge signaling the end of playtime and the start of bedtime in most cases. But with one foot still in the playzone, bathtime can be a great opportunity for early learning activities for your toddler or preschooler. This is a time of undivided attention from their primary caregiver, and it is a time when you have their undivided attention. So what can you do?

Activities to do in the tub


  • Talk about the different body parts. Point to and name different body parts with your child. Sing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. Talk about the lesser known body parts as you wash them (wrists, ankles, forehead) and even include some directional cues. “Now we’ll wash your right hand, now for your right foot.”
  • Together, think of and list all the different words that go with a bathtime theme: “wet, water, soap, rinse” etc. For extra run, pick one word and make up a silly rhyme. “The wet pet is set up in a net.” This activity not only builds on a child’s vocabulary, but by adding a silly, simple rhyme, you are teaching your child about the small sounds within a word. In this case, the “eh” sound in “wet”
  • Sound out the different words that you list. Bubble, “bu-ble” clap your hands for each sound. This great segmenting activity helps your child identify the different syllables and sounds in larger words. Sounding out words is one of the key steps towards learning how to read.
  • For some parents, bathtime can be the only dedicated time spent with their child for that day. Recap your day and its various events. Ask your child to share about their experiences for that day. These small moments of bonding and comfort go a long-way for their brain development.


Early In the Morning
This is the way we wash our hands, (rub baby's hands together)
Wash our hands, wash our hands
This is the way we wash our hands
So early in the morning (so late in the evening)
(Make up your own verses/body parts)
This is the way we: Wash our face, wash our feet, wash our belly

Water Water
Water, water, splosh, splosh, splosh (gently splash water)
Lather, lather, wash, wash, wash (rub palms together)
Bubble, bubble, rub, rub, rub (rub baby's tummy)
Trickle, trickle, scrub, scrub, scrub (trickle fingers on cheek)


  • Bring out the bubbles for some great pre-writing activities. Squeeze bubbles through tiny hands, or swirl fingers around in the foam to create different shapes and lines. These pre-writing skills are building on your child’s gross and fine motor skills, two skills necessary to hold a pencil and create the shapes of letters as they get older.
  • Bring out some water-safe toys and let your child’s imagination go wild in the tub. This is a great way to build on their storytelling skills as they create a narrative for their toys in the tub. Ask open-ended questions to encourage their ideas.
  • Fill and pour water from empty shampoo bottles or water-safe cups. Let your child play with the cups, filling them up and dumping them out. This is not only a great activity for their gross motor skills, but you are also introducing them to some of the basic concepts of physics, such as cause and effect, gravity and velocity.

Suggested Reading

To the TubSmall Elephant's BathtimeSplish, Splash, Baby!Once Upon a Bathtime

PS - More Bathtime Books!

Don't forget to track what you read on your 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten log. Check out our Beanstack site for more booklists and title recommendations.