Children's Museum of South Dakota



Wacky widgets to spray, squirt, and splash!

Water is fascinating. It moves and can be moved in so many different ways. This gallery is about making choices and decisions, being persistent, using hard work to make something happen, and fostering a love for water as a natural element.

Water play offers something for all ages and learning styles. For the very young, water play is a multi-sensory exploration: filling buckets, floating balls, splashing hands, and getting wet. For older children, there is an additional layer of science learning: making guesses about what will happen and then trying it out, manipulating flow jets, or switching tracks, and then pumping up pressure in the water in order to watch a ball take the predicted path to another part of the gallery. Splash challenges children to experiment and find multiple solutions.

Through water play, children explore the natural properties of water, water movement, and the tools used to manipulate water. Splash is packed with high-energy, interactive fun!

Splash Table

Build a pipe and direct the water flow. Attach tubes and elbows to divert water in wacky, wild directions. Have a ball squirting targets and making them move with water. 

This area develops fine motor skills by moving small pieces, putting them together and creating different structures. Visitors gain knowledge of how water moves and ways to move it in all directions. Children learn from one another in seeing how others build their structures. 

Visitors wonder what would happen “if” the water moves like this…including out of the table! 

Tot Spot

Designed specially for toddlers, this area is sure to elicit giggles and excitement. Children watch colorful balls float down water troughs over paddlewheels to cascading waters. Jets manipulate the water and move it in different directions. Toddlers work with moving water, changing its direction with their hands or with colorful objects.

Toddlers learn cause and effect following the balls through the winding pathway. They practice tracking the balls through the river, which helps early reading skills. They also learn persistence watching the balls maneuver through the troughs and over the paddlewheels.

Plink, Plank, Plop

Move the colorful balls to a launching platform. Arrange the Plinko panels to change the ball movement and then watch the balls move over the panels and back into the water. 

Children learn to plan a pathway and then build it. This develops cognitive skills by planning and sequencing in more complex ways. Children can work together and share in the excitement of watching the ball use the pathway they created.


Continue to explore at home with ideas from the books below.
Many of these books are at the Brookings Public Library.


I Touch, In: Helen Oxenbury's Baby Board Books, Helen Oxenbury
Kipper's Book of Weather, Mick Inkpen
Baby Dolphin, San Diego Zoo


Bartholomew and the Oobleck, Dr. Seuss
Bear Play, Miela Ford
Huggly Takes a Bath, Tedd Arnold

Ages 3 - 5

Pop! A Book about Bubbles, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley & Margaret Miller
Splish, Splash, In: Pictures and Words, Nicola Tuxworth
Drops of Water, In: Ten Word Book, Bob Reese
Splash! Flora McDonnell
Splash! Susan Kovacs Buxbaum
The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, In: Bunny Reads Back, Rosemary Wells
Rupert's Big Splash, In: Early Learner Books, Bob Graham
Baby Duck's New Friend, Frank Asch
Harry Takes a Bath, In: Puffin Easy-to-Read, Harriet Ziefert & Mavis Smith
Febold Feboldson, Ariane Dewey
Princess Gorilla and a New Kind of Water, Verna Aardema & Victoria Chess
D.W. All Wet, Marc Tolon Brown
Margret & H.A. Rey's Curious George Goes to the Beach, Margret Rey
Frog Knows Best, In: Get Ready-- Get Set-- Read!, Kelli Foster
Dot and Jabber and the Mystery of the Missing Stream, Ellen Stoll Walsh
Summer Fun, In: Rookie Choices, Larry Dane Brimner & Christine Tripp
Raindrops, In: A Rookie Reader, Larry Dane Brimner & David Brooks

Ages 6 - 8

A Drop of Water, Walter Wick
Water Everywhere, In: DK Readers. 2, Beginning to Read Alone, Jill Atkins
A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe around Water, In: The Kid's Library of Personal Safety, Maribeth Boelts
Hot Springs and Geysers, In: Read All About Earthly Oddities, Patricia Armentrout
Waterways to the Great Lakes, In: Great Lakes of North America, Harry Beckett
Waves & Tides, In: Read All About Earthly Oddities, Patricia Armentrout
Rivers and Valleys, In: Geography Detective, Philip Arthur Sauvain
Oceans, In: First Reports, Susan H. Gray
Let's Take a Field Trip to a Deep Sea, In: Neighborhoods in Nature, Kathy Furgang   
Let’s Take a Field Trip to a Tide Pool, Kathy Furgang
Way Down Deep, Strange Ocean Creatures, In: All Aboard Reading, Patricia Demuth & Jim Deal
Ocean Currents, In: Read All About Earthly Oddities, Patricia Armentrout
Sand and Fog, Adventures in Southern Africa, Jim Brandenburg & JoAnn Bren Guernsey  
The Cloud Book, Tomie de Paola
Feathers, Flippers, and Feet, In: DK Readers, Deborah Lock
Splish! Splash!, In: Reading Railroad Books, Jill Jarnow
Plumbing, In: Merit badge series 33386B
The Froggy Rescue, Consuelo Joerns
The Old Woman and the Wave, Shelley Jackson
No More Water in the Tub!, Tedd Arnold
Granddad's Fishing Buddy, Mary Quigley & Stephanie Jorisch
Cactus Soup, Eric Kimmel & Phil Huling
Princess Gorilla and a New Kind of Water, Verna Aardema & Victoria Chess
The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks, Joanna Cole & Bruce Degen

Ages 9 - 12

Floods and Tidal Waves, In: Natural Disasters, Terry Jennings
Rivers & Lakes, Neil Morris
Ocean, In: DK Eyewitness Books, Miranda Macquitty
Exploring the Titanic, Robert Ballard
You Gotta Try This!, Absolutely Irresistible Science, Vicki Cobb & Kathy Darling
Treasures in the Sea, In: Books for Young Explorers, National Geographic, Robert McClung
Water, In: Science Alive! Darlene Lauw
Water, In:  Earth Strikes Back, Pamela Grant & Arthur Haswell
Viking, In:  DK Eyewitness Books, Susan Margeson & Peter Anderson
Fog Magic, Julia Sauer
Twisters!, In: DK Readers, Kate Hayden
Tornados!, Gail Gibbons
Hurricanes and Tornados, In: Natural Disasters, Terry Jennings
Stormchaser, In: The Edge Chronicles, Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell
Water Street, Patricia Reilly Giff
Hannah West in Deep Water, Linda Johns
Ingo, Helen Dunmore
Foal in the Fog, In: Animal Ark.  Ben Baglio