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Awesome Water Activities for Kids to Keep Cool

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Photo Courtesy of Christine Tutnijan

Summer is here!  Well, it’s almost here.  This time of year I like to classify it as “right around the corner”.

And one of our favorite things to do in summer are kids water activities.  Playing with water is lots of fun.  Whether it’s classic water balloon games or relaxing in the “kiddie pool”, water activities keep us busy all summer long.  It’s so much fun to get wet on hot summer afternoons.

The best part?  These water activities don’t take too much effort to set up.  Like our list of bubble activities, you can organize these water ones quickly and mostly with things that you have around the house.

Another thing that I learned many years ago is that as long as you have water activities, you don’t actually need a pool.  Water by itself can be just as much fun to play with.  I guess no surprises there.


Can I Use these Water Activities at a Summer Party?

Absolutely.  The best part about summer parties is that you can host them outside.  And adding an assortment of kids water activities and games is a great way to keep guests entertained.

Like all other party activities, it’s important to choose ones that are appropriate to the guests’ ages.  If you have younger guests, make sure that the activities aren’t set up for an older crowd.

Also, before guests arrive, make sure the activity is completely organized.  This means assembling all of the necessary supplies and setting up the space.  You can always add the water later.


Where Can I Find the Best Water Play Supplies?

Water activities can be lots of fun, but finding great supplies isn’t always that easy.  Talking to the mom that replaces our water guns every year.

When I think about kids water activities, I still have memories of my youth dancing in my mind.  Simple summer afternoons filled with neighborhood water gun fights and water balloon battles.

These days, though, many water toys have gotten more complicated.  Water guns tend to break frequently and quickly.  Sprinklers don’t shoot enough water.  And water balloons need gadgets to fill them.  What happened to just attaching them to the faucet and letting them fill?

So before planning water activities and games for your summer fun, it’s best to assemble some supplies to get you started.

Water Squirt Guns

First off, water squirt guns.  For simple water play, stick with easy no-frill squirt guns.  As much fun as large, super soaking water guns are, they aren’t really necessary.  I like to get ours at the Dollar Tree because, believe it or not, they tend to last the season.  These water shooters or water blasters are great options for a basic water squirter.  And if someone breaks it, I’m not as worried. (affiliate)

And always have a few extra on hand.  You never know when some more kids will stop by and want to play.  You can buy water squirt guns in larger sets (like theseaffiliate).  That way you’ll always have a bunch ready to go for unexpected summer get togethers.

Water Balloons

Next are the water balloons.  These are always a necessity in the summer months and can be used for so many water games.  Gone are the days when you sat at the sink filling balloon after balloon, but were never able to keep up with the demand.

Nowadays, you can fill up to 100 water balloons at one time (affiliate).  They are even self-sealing.  Who knew we even needed this invention to improve our summer fun!

If you’d like a more eco-friendly option, try these reusable ones (affiliate).  They are made from blanket yarn and crocheted.  Perfect for water balloon tosses and relay races.  Plus they don’t “pop”, which might be a good thing if you are planning water activities for little kids.

Or if you need a larger quantity, these cotton water balloons would be another reusable option.  Fast drying, you can use them again and again. (affiliate)

Sprinklers and Splash Pads

Other items to consider for water fun are sprinklers and water splash pads, depending on your children’s ages.  Young kids don’t always like water spraying at them.  So, water splash pads are sometimes a better idea.  If you like to entertain, consider a larger size – 82″ round – like this one (affiliate).

If you prefer a sprinkler, they make them with all sorts of different amounts of water spray.  Sprinklers are a great activity for running through and jumping over.  For toddlers, we enjoyed this sprinkler for kids (affiliate).  The wiggly arms made the water spray everywhere, but not too hard.

You can also try an inflatable sprinkler.  These are fun to look at (we love this unicorn version (affiliate)) and simply get you wet.  Which might be what everyone wants on a hot day.

If you’re looking for a sprinkler for older kids, you can stick with a good old fashioned garden sprinkler.  Just watch how hard the water comes out.  If it has too much force, try adjusting the settings.  Also if your sprinkler has metal attachments, make sure your kids can easily clear them when running through.  It’s never fun to land on metal in the middle of a jump.

My littles loved running through the ones that sprayed a tunnel of water over their heads.  That way there was no risk in getting toes caught and the spray was perfect.


Water Play Activities Kids will Love

The Kiddie Pool:

Let’s start with the kiddie pool.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, the kiddie pool has been misunderstood.  It turns out that it’s not just for little kids.  It’s for big kids too.

These little pools can be great fun for all ages in the summer months.  Coming from the mom who had to buy a new one because we gave ours away after I thought the kids outgrew it.

Knowing that the kiddie pool will be with your kids for awhile helps when picking one out.  Try to find one that’s a little larger.  I love this 60 inch version since the size will let your kids grow into it. (affiliate)

When setting up play in the kiddie pool, grab other toys to splash with.  Buckets and things that pour, shovels, sand trucks and other plastic toy fun.  You can also add some plastic ball pit balls (affiliate) for added water fun.

There are lots of fun water play activities that you can set up in the kiddie pool.

Set up a Car Wash – Even toy cars get dirty and need a wash sometimes.  Fill up the pool and add a few sponges and scrub brushes.  Have the kids wash their toy cars.  Let them dry on a near by towel and they are ready to race again.

Open a Toy Spa – Invite your plastic toys to enjoy a day at the spa.  Fill up the pool and add a few sponges and scrub brushes.  Squirt in a little bubble bath to make some bubbles.

We give our favorite toys a luxurious spa experience.  Wash their hair (Barbie dolls are so much fun for this).  And add in a few extra bath toys, such as rubber duckies.  Once they are done with their spa day, we towel them dry.

You can set this up as a party activity too and invite guests to give different toys a bath.  Also, have guests bring their favorite plastic toys to enjoy the spa.  It’s quite a party when all of the toys are relaxing together.

Foot Soak – If your kids are too big to get into the pool or there are too many, you can set up an outdoor foot bath.  Add some of your favorite bath salts and let the kids soak their feet.  Then, follow up with a pedicure if desired.  You’ll have your own outdoor spa.

Boat Brigade – We love sailing our little plastic boats in the summer.  It’s so much fun imagining the adventures the sailors (and pirates) are having.  Create your own boat brigade.  You can sail your ships in the calm waters of the kiddie pool.  Or make some waves and add a rain storm.  It’s always fun to see who can sink the ship first.

You can also host a boat parade.  Make one of the boats the leader and the rest of the boats follow him as he sails around the water.


Photo Courtesy of Mi Pham

The Sprinkler:

Sprinklers can be lots of fun and make fantastic kids water activities.  Especially for a crowd.

They are easy to set up – you just need a sprinkler and hose.  And lots of kids can participate at once without having to take turns.

Musical Sprinkler – Kids run through the sprinkler.  When the music stops, whoever is last through the sprinkler sits out.  The last person standing wins.

Catch some Water – Give each child a plastic bowl.  Have the kids run around the sprinkler trying to fill the bowl with water.  The first person to fill their bowl with water wins.  Or you can have a specific amount of time to fill the bowl.  The person with the bowl filled the highest wins.

Have a Dance Party – You don’t have to just run and jump through the sprinkler.  You can dance too.  Try some popular dances like the Macarena and the Chicken Dance.  Or have the kids do hip hop moves or leap like a ballerina.

The Hokey Pokey – Gather kids around the sprinkler to do this classic kids dance.  Everyone is sure to get wonderfully wet when they follow the directions.  And don’t forget the most fun one – “Put your hair in!”

Walk Like an Animal – Sometimes, kids just want to run through the sprinkler to cool off.  Instead of just running, encourage them to try a variety of animal movements.  Have them hop like a kangaroo, waddle like a penguin or crawl like a capybara.  They could also try the crab walk or swing like a monkey.  You can even have them add the animal sounds for more fun.

Make a Slip and SlideDo you remember the classic slip and slide?  It was one of the many toys that I always wanted as a kid, but it never did appear under the Christmas tree.  They looked like so much fun in the commercials.

You can easily make your own slip and slide for backyard water fun.  All you need is a plastic sheet, hose and board to attach it to.  Check out the detailed tutorial here.

Don’t have time to make your own?  Slip and slides have improved in quality over the years.  You can now buy single or double slides with inflatable body boards to help in the sliding action. (affiliate) 


Water Balloons:

Water balloons are a classic summertime necessity.  And there are lots of activities that you can play with them.

When filling lots of water balloons, keep the filled ones in a large tub or kiddie pool.  They can break easily, so you want to make sure they are in a soft place that kids can easily reach for the next one.  Or invest in a set of reusable cotton ones that you can use again and again.  (affiliate)

Water Balloon Toss – This classic from my childhood is still one of our favorite water balloon activities.  Especially at parties.  Partner off the kids and hand one child a balloon.  Have the kids stand a few feet apart.  The first child tosses the balloon to the other child.  If the balloon is caught, the first child takes a step back.  Then, he tosses the balloon back.  Continue until the kids are really far apart or the water balloon breaks.

Water Balloon Baseball – In this fun water activity, exchange the baseball for the water balloon.  Pitch the water balloon and swing at it with a bat.  One good swing and you will get wonderfully wet.

Water Balloon Hunt – Just like an egg hunt, you can hide water balloons all around your yard.  Send kids out searching for a specific number of balloons or certain colors.  They can then play with the water balloons that they find.


Water Balloon Piñata – Another fun way to cool off on a hot day is by making a water balloon piñata.  Similar to a traditional piñata, except this one uses balloons and it’s filled with water.  Kids take turns swinging at the filled water balloons and trying to burst them.  Perfect for a summer party.  And swimsuits are a must.


The Water Table:

When we lived in the city and had very little outdoor space, one of our favorite water activities for kids was a water table.  We made our own water table to “contain” the water.  Although it was only somewhat successful at the containing part, this was a great water activity to stay cool on hot summer days.

These days, you can purchase many wonderful water table designs that kids will love.  They have so many fun themes and can do awesome things.  I love this pirate themed water table (affiliate) or this rain forest design (affiliate). You can even find ones that have ball lifts.  And when it isn’t summer or you get bored of the water, transform the table to a sand or ball table.

Being a crafty mom, though, I made our own basic water table design.  I’ll admit that it didn’t have all the thrills of the store bought ones.  But it did the trick.  And the kids loved it.

If you are interested in making your own water table, check out these plans from Anika’s DIY Life.  Ours looked similar and lasted for many years of play.

Once you have a water table, there are lots of fun activities your kids can enjoy.  They can sail boats, play pirates and wash their toy cars.  Another idea is to fill and pour with buckets.  Keep some water play accessories nearby (measuring cups, recycled containers and plastic toys) for lots of water play fun.

Water Squirter Fun:

Target Practice – Set up a pyramid of plastic cups.  Have the kids stand a specific distance away.  Then, they can aim at the tower of cups and see how many them can shoot down.

Or create targets from hanging beach balls.  Hang beach balls different heights from trees.  Let the kids shoot and try to hit them.

One last idea is combine bubble fun and water guns.  Run the bubble machine or have someone blow bubbles to make bubbles.  Have the kids try to pop the bubbles with the water guns.  They can even keep count to see who can pop the most bubbles.

Race Time –  Water guns aren’t just meant to shoot each other with.  You can also use the spray of the water to get a boat across a kiddie pool.  Place two boats at the “starting line”.  Use the water gun to squirt the boat across the pool.  The first one to the other side wins.

Another water gun race idea is this creative Water Gun Cup Race from Mombrite.  Instead of trying to get boats to the other side, you are racing to get cups to the finish line.  This is a fun summer party game guests will love.

Traditional Water Gun Fight –  When I was a kid, we would break our neighborhood posse into teams and basically spend the afternoon trying to soak each other.  It was the most fun ever.

So, not all water gun play has to be complicated.  Break the kids into two groups and let them have fun with the water guns.  You can even play games like Capture the Flag.  The water guns will add a wonderful cool down.

Squirt Gun Letters – Want to sneak in a little bit of learning this summer?  Try playing Squirt Gun Letters.  Draw letters (or even numbers) on the driveway or sidewalk with sidewalk chalk.  Have your child name the letter while squirting it away.

Ice is Nice

An easy way to cool off on a warm summer day is with ice.  Ice cubes.  Ice blocks.  Mini ice rinks.

Ice Excavating – This is one of our favorite activities on a hot summer day.  We take a bunch of little plastic toys (I like doing this with dinosaurs, but anything works) and freezing them into a block of ice.  Then, place the ice in the sun.  Give your kids spoons, salt, warm water and anything else you can think of.  Experiment with different techniques to get the block of ice to melt.

Sail an Ice Boat – Set sail on the “open water” with an ice boat.  Make these basic ice boats from ice cubes, straws and paper sails.  Then, place them in the bathtub or kiddie pool to sail them.  

Ice Painting – Time to cool off with a little art.  Combine your child’s love of painting with ice by making ice paints.  Check out the easy how to here.

Go Ice Skating – Not really.  But, your favorite little figurines can.  Although this is better as an indoor ice activity, it’s a great idea for a hot day.  Start by making an ice rink.  In a shallow plastic container, freeze water.  Then, let your little animal figures go ice skating.  We love doing this with our arctic animals especially.  It’s a great way to give them a taste of winter in the middle of summer. (affiliate)


Other Water Play Activities

Make a Water Wall – Water is so much fun to play with because of how it moves and jiggles.  Kids love seeing the different ways they can get water from one place to another.  Encourage even more water play fun by building a water wall.  Using a variety of recycled containers, tubes and even squirt bottles, you can connect everything together and watch the water do its thing.

Painting with Water – Although sidewalk paint (affiliate) can be a fun alternative to sidewalk chalk, so can water.  Get out the paint brushes and invite kids to paint a picture.  Then, they can watch it dry.

We also like painting roadways and messages to each other.  This is an unexpected way to practice writing letters too.

For a party, put out a container of water and bunch of different sized paint brushes.  Then, let the kids enjoy painting pictures together.

Wash the Car – One of our favorite water play activities is washing the car.  The kids love getting large sponges all soapy.  And scrubbing the tire rims until they are shiny is especially fun. The highlight is spraying the hose to wash down the car.  Everyone loves getting soaked.

If your car doesn’t need a wash down, you could also build this DIY Kids Car Wash by Raising Whasians.  It’s perfect for washing those Little Tykes cars.  And the kids will love getting wet too.

Make a Water Sensory Bin – Sensory bins are a great activity for little ones just starting to discover their world.  Although we usually fill ours rice, flour, pasta, cotton balls and other dry play fun, you can also create fun water sensory bins.

There are lots of ideas including building a frog pond and Easter egg washing.  You can also make alphabet beads soap foam, which is a great way to mix water and learning.

Play a Sponge Toss Water Game – I’ve loved these sponge bombs ever since I started seeing them pop up on the web many years ago.  The best part is they don’t really hurt when you throw them at each other.  And they are much better for the environment than water balloons since you can use them over and over again.

You can find easy directions for making your own sponge bombs from Crafts by Amanda.  And if you need a game to play with them, start with a sponge toss water game.  This game can easily turn into a sponge bomb water fight.  Just be prepared.


Water activities for kids are a great way to have fun and stay cool this summer.  Use them at your summer parties and play dates.  Or organize the family in an activity one weekend afternoon.

Love these water activities for kids and want to save them for later?  Be sure to pin it below.


Need some other fun summer time ideas?  We also love spending hot summer afternoons staying cool in our craft room.  You can make a Teacup Fairy Garden or a Shark Sun Catcher.  We also create summer food crafts like these Sweet and Salty Sand Pudding Cups or Patriotic Sprinkle Lollipops.

Or take your summer fun outside in the shade and make some Under the Sea Bubble Art.

We also have created a variety of summer printables to use at your summer parties and play dates.  From a Free Printable Hello Summer Banner to a Free Printable Summer Bucket List, be sure to check out all of the printable fun here.  

Happy Celebrating,

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