Just Add Water isn’t just an improv comedy troupe at Yale. It’s a creed.

If I were asked for the number one thing to do with children that is fun and has the broadest range of use, I would say to take whatever it is the child is doing and just add water.

Young children are absolutely drawn to water. There seems to be a magnetic fascination.

When we started our 2011/2012 Seedlings year I challenged myself to draw a large number of the children together through play, in order for everyone to become accustomed to one another. I didn’t have to think long in order to come up with a plan.


1. Shovels

2. Buckets

3. Log stumps

4. Wood planks

5. Sand

6. Water

Away we went! I don’t think I have dug more in my entire life. We worked for weeks building rivers, dams, mountains, volcanoes, bridges, oceans, pools, jetties, lakes, boat runs, waterfalls, and many other wonderfully messy creations. The best part for me was seeing the returning Seedlings welcome the new younger Seedlings in their own ways. One day resident photographer, artist, Mr. Fix-it, and Seedling father, Haidor, kicked his shoes off and spent the entire three hours digging on his hands and knees with the little ones. The common bond between the children these first few weeks seemed to be the water.

Water and children both embody the need to move. In a way, they understand each other. There’s pure joy and discovery when a child marvels at the simple trickle from a hose. Not to mention the raw power of a raging river, waterfall, or ocean’s tide.

Maybe the greatest lesson for everyone who stands before a great body of water is that they are not in control. The Earth is a powerful place, and water reminds us of that. Water has shaped the the Earth’s surface for billions of years. When a young child takes hold of a hose and a creates a mud pile they can experience the Earth-changing power that water possesses firsthand.

With endless opportunity for rich experiences, it’s simple what we can do for children to enhance their lives… Just add water!

© Jonathan Iris-Wilbanks and Sunflower Creative Arts, 2011
Photos © Haidor Truu and Sunflower Creative Arts, 2011