DIY Water Play Frame

Alistair Bryce-CleggBoys Learning, Child Initiated Learning, Continuous Provision, Water Play28 Comments

After showing a picture of this at a couple of conferences this week I have had a few emails and Facebook messages asking me how you do it, so here is a very quick tutorial. Rest assured it is REALLY easy. After all I managed to make this one and my DIY skills are zero!


The frame can be used indoors or out. You can make it as tall or as long as you would like it to be. Initially adults would construct the frame until the children get the hang of it and then they become very good at making it up themselves. It is a good way of getting construction skills into your water area.


So, what do you need…

I made this one using 22mm waste pipe and 22mm pipe joints. You can pick these up at any DIY store and they are really cheap.

Waste pipe comes is various thicknesses, so you can make your frame ‘chunkier’ by using a fatter pipe!

Pipe joints come in various forms. I chose ‘elbow‘ and ‘tee‘.


Elbow joints are great for corners and tee joints for pouring in and running out.

Speaking of running out.  I  also needed to buy  some 22mm pipe caps to put at the feet of your frame. You need these unless you want a flood! I ended up buying mine from Ebay. They were 7p each.


The only other thing I invested in was a junior hacksaw to cut my pipe with.

Once I had my pipe, joints, caps, hacksaw and a tape measure…I was ready for action!

What to do

  • Before you go to the shops draw a rough design of your frame. This way you will be able to work out how many of each joint you need.
  • Next, measure the height you would like your frame to be and then treble that number. This should give you a rough estimate for the amount of pipe you will need for a frame like mine. If you are making a bigger/longer one then you will need to add more pipe.
  • Go to the shops and buy your goodies (making sure you can fit the pipe in your car! Otherwise you will be sawing waste pipe in the car park…)


  • When you are constructing your frame, start with the legs and cut them to equal length.

As most of your ends are going into a joint, then you don’t need to be too neat! I would advise that you use a clamp to steady your pipe as you cut it. If you haven’t got one you will just have to manage by kneeling on your pipe or employing the services of a family member or friend!

  • After legs, comes feet. You will need 4 pieces of pipe cut to equal length, one tee joint for each foot and 4 pipe caps.

The pipe should push easily into the joints. If it doesn’t then either you have bought the wrong size or you need a bit of lubrication. You can try putting a bit of Vaseline (or similar) around the joint!


  • Once you have got your legs and your feet sorted out then you are woking on the main bar that will run across the top of your frame. For this you need 2 elbow joints and then a number of pieces of pipe and tees. I used 4 tee joints on mine.
  • You can use the tee joints for pouring into or running out of. They move  quite easily once in place, so the children tend to do their own thing anyway.


  • Use the pipe and joints that you have got left to create your ‘down spouts’. Once again I find that the children have very definite ideas about how they want these to work.


It really is  very simple but effective thing to make and will help you to add some engagement and challenge to your water play.


Add in a couple of flat bottomed plastic flasks, a bit of liquid water colour and you have got your very own science lab!

If you have a go – send me a picture.

In other ABC news… Granny’s Teeth are coming back!


To be honest, I had never intended for them to go away, but they were requested by The Department of Education and Skills in Wales where they ended up staying for a very long time! I haven’t had any information about what they got up to on their Welsh adventure yet, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that there will be something to share! But, now they are back on their travels again. If you would like Granny’s Teeth at your setting/house then drop me an email with your address. All you have to do is commit to an activity using the teeth, taking some photos of what you do with them and sending me a brief bit of text to explain what they got up to (Oh, and send them back after about a week)!





28 Comments on “DIY Water Play Frame”

  1. Good ?I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your web site. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs as well as related information ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it at all. Quite unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, website theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Nice task..

  2. Pingback: Foundation Stage Areas and Zones | Considering Learning

  3. I’ve seen you today in Hereford as key speaker and seminar on continuous provision. As a relatively new teacher in Reception (key stage 2 for 14 years) I’ve learnt so much. Having just read through your blog and explored your website I can not wait to get back into my setting tomorrow. We would love to have ‘Grannies teeth’ if you could put us on your waiting list! St Anne’s CE Primary Wyre Hill BEWDLEY Worcestershire DY122UQ. Will also be pestering my head to come see you in Birmingham in March. Thank you so much Amanda

  4. Wow! so inspired! I have only just found you and all the wonderful work you do, love all the posts on your fbk feed too. Granny’s teeth sounds great fun, we would love a visit to our school- St Marys CofE Primary School, Paddock Close, Edwinstowe, Mansfield NG21 9LP Thank you!

  5. What a fab idea – I just can’t wait to make one of those water tray play frames for our nursery (or my long suffering hubby will!) I’m sure it will go down a storm so many love moving water all over the place – bathroom floor, down the slide, in the wellies – and … even into the kettle for a mid morning cuppa! Cheers ABC does!

  6. Hi Alistair,
    If Granny’s Teeth are coming down under we would love to have them visit our centre. We can guarantee a chomping good time!!!!

  7. Hi there, I loved to be on the list for grannies teeth but I’m in Australia is that ok , cheers pam

    1. Hi Pam. We might be able to sort something out. Send me an email with your address and we will add you tinted list!

      1. Wow Thanks
        Victor Seymour Infants’ School and Children’s Centres
        Denmark Rd
        SM5 2JE

    1. Hi Cheryl. Please send me an email with your address so that we know where we are sending them and then we will add you to the list.

    1. Hi Beth. Can you please send me an email with your setting address so we know where we sending them. The. We will add you to the list! See you Friday!

  8. My classroom looks like an ABC DOES showroom at the mo’, conkers and grabbers / samovars in the water area / picture frames on the wall….. we need Granny’s teeth for our history driver theme in autumn 2!

    I tried to get some teeth this weekend but my 86 year old mum spotted me at the last minute as I left her bungalow……. darn!

    Cheers, Jenni

  9. We would love Granny’s Teeth to make a visit to Wynstream Primary in Exeter. Looking forward to seeing you in May!

    Kind regards,

    Lara Small

    1. Hi Laura. That’s great can you send me an email with your school address and we will add you to the list!!

  10. Hi,
    Rock Ferry Primary School would love Granny’s teeth! Please add us to the list.
    Thank you.

  11. Yes please for Granny’s teeth! One of my team is attending your course on Oct 17th so we could save on the postage too!!! Loving the water pipe idea too!

    1. Hi Nic. There is a bit of a waiting list at the moment, so send me your setting address and we will add you to it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.