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Beat the Heat With These Water Activities for Kids

This list of water activities for kids is sure to have something your crew will enjoy. Many of the suggestions are fun for adults, too!

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Are you looking for some entertaining water activities for kids? We’ve got a list that will cover kids of any age and skill level. Whether you’ve got access to a pool, a beach, a kitchen sink, or a hose, there are options that will help keep everyone in your family having fun and feeling cool. Some of the activities on the list can be done with supplies you already have at home. Others will require stocking up on a couple of items, but they will be good over and over again for a whole summer of fun.ow

Don’t worry—while these suggestions are perfect for children, many of the options are great for Mom, Dad, and other adults to join in on as well! So read through and add some to your fun in the sun this summer. 

Kiddos Love Adventures From Scratch!

On the hunt for kids’ activities? Adventures From Scratch has recommendations for you and your family. Within the pages of this brilliant book, you’ll find enjoyable outings, sensory activities, dress-up opportunities, tear-out cards, and spaces to record your experiences. It offers more than 50 wonderful ways to spend days with your favorite people!

20 Fun Water Activities for Kids of All Ages

Summer activities range from playground fun to splashing around in the pool to reading and playing games on rainy days. This list is filled with outdoor games and ideas for those days when the sun is shining and temperatures are high. These will help keep kids from overheating as they drench themselves as much as they need to cool off. Just make sure you have towels at hand when they are ready to come inside.

1. Splash at a local splash pad.

Preschoolers are often too young to head to the community pool without an adult that is willing to jump in with them. Splash pads are the perfect answer to that. Most of these neighborhood fixtures have just enough water in them to splash around without needing to have all the skills learned for swimming.

There are usually some slides or fun equipment that adds to the excitement. Many times, there are sprinklers or water features that kids can play under and run through. It’s a great way to introduce water play while they are still taking swimming lessons and getting comfortable with the water. It’s nice for parents to be able to splash and keep an eye on their kids without having to change out of their normal summer clothes into a swimsuit.

2. Put out a water table.

Sensory bins are popular for young children who are practicing their fine motor skills and it’s a basic learning tool that has gained more and more traction in recent years. Why not take this idea outside and use water as your theme? Water tables usually consist of a short table with a few bins where children can practice moving water or even ice cubes from one well to the other. Meanwhile, they’ll probably spill quite a bit and stay cool in the process.

Water walls are another example of this, like this water wall from Amazon. Kids can fill buckets and dump them into the top of the wall and watch as the water flows down through the holes and chutes. It’s a great way to keep young kids entertained for a while and used to playing with water.

3. Create a color laboratory.

If you want to mix some science experiments with water fun, consider bringing some of the fun ideas promoting STEM outside. A color lab can be put together using food coloring and containers filled with water. Kids can take one cup of water and add different colors to see how they mix together. It’s good if you have at least the three primary colors, red, yellow, and blue, and then the kids can mix them to get the other colors they want to see. Have them make colored ice cubes for their drinks so they can enjoy the hard work they put into the experiment. 

4. Fill up a kiddie pool.

Little ones love splashing around in the water and they don’t need much in order to make that happen. Kiddie pools are perfect for kids to use in the backyard. You can find inflatable options or plastic ones that don’t require any setup other than filing them with water. If you have a child that loves to play in the bathtub, move some of their favorite bath toys outside to the pool and let them splash around for a while.

You can add small slides to the pool and that will provide hours of entertainment going up and then splashing down into the water. Kiddie pools are a safe option as well because they aren’t set up all the time and you can only put water in them when you are going to be supervising playtime in the yard. They aren’t just for two-year-olds either, you’ll be surprised by how much fun older kids have with some water to play in.

5. Paddle through the water.

Lakes, rivers, and calm bays in the ocean are great spots to try some paddling. Kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards are all great options for the family to get out on the water. As kids get older, they can captain their own vessel with life jackets and they will love being able to steer and explore on their own.

Most spots that are on the ocean will include a tour and a guide to ensure you avoid any dangerous spots with really strong waves. Life jackets are also important just in case you end up in the water—either accidentally or on purpose.

Don’t have a boat? Rentals are easy to find at many parks and local sporting goods stores. Call ahead and make a reservation, you can usually select anywhere from one hour to a full day. Bring some snacks, water, and a lot of sunscreen, and get out on the water to explore. And if you happen to flip off, just make sure that you have a dry bag with you for your car keys, cell phone, and any other valuables you might bring along.

6. Hit the wave pool.

Wave pools are located in major cities and towns all over the United States. It’s a regular pool for a while and then there will be a loud siren or warning noise and the pool will start creating giant waves at one end that will flow through the entire pool. It’s a fun way to pretend you’re at the ocean or get the feel of how it is to swim at the beach without leaving town.

Every wave pool has specific rules. Sometimes you can float on something over the water and some even allow you to surf in certain areas and practice without the danger of unpredictable rip currents. Grab a surfboard or boogie board and see if you have the natural skills to balance on the water, or practice until you feel like you’re comfortable enough to get out on the real waves during your next beach vacation.

7. Create a water obstacle course.

Obstacle courses are great ways to utilize the items you already have in your yard and garage and still have a blast. Each course you set up can be completely unique, so the game is constantly changing and evolving. Use your hose, buckets of water, and sprinklers to make sure that there is plenty of water involved. 

If you have a jungle gym or playground, you can create a water slide! Design obstacles that need to be jumped over, climbed up, or crawled under. You could even organize a few tasks that need to be completed, like filling water balloons or carrying spoons filled with water back and forth through the obstacle course until you’ve filled up a glass or container to a certain level. 

Setting up a fun and unique obstacle course is one of the easiest activities, and it can work in just about any yard or outdoor space. Use whatever you have and be creative. Rotate responsibilities and give everyone a chance to set up a course to challenge the family and neighborhood. You’ll be surprised at how creative kids can get when they are put in charge of activities like this.

8. Have a water balloon toss!

You might recall the excitement of playing water balloon games as a kid. From filling each little colorful latex sack with water to delivering a bucket full of ammunition to your siblings, friends, and family, they always meant it was time for an epic battle that would end in laughs.

Balloons filled with water can pop if you don’t catch them in the right way and the person closest will end up drenched. Playing water balloon toss will give you the chance to practice your light-handed throws and catches and probably end up soaking wet at some point during the game. You can even get drenched on purpose if you need to cool down. 

Take turns tossing the water bombs back and forth with your partner. Whichever team can go the longest without one of the balloons exploding is the winner. Switch up the partners after each round in case there are some people that are just better than others. Everyone deserves the chance to get wet during this fun backyard game.

9. Get out the water guns!

A fun way to get out some energy and get everyone running around a bit is to have a water war. Pull out all your squirt guns, water balloons, and hoses, and let everyone pick their water weapon of choice. If you need more to choose from, consider using wet sponges to throw (also known as a sponge bomb) or pull out any spray bottles you have laying around the house. 

You can set up a team game like Capture the Flag and use the water toys to help ward off the other team from getting close to your flag. You can also just set everyone loose to chase each other around and soak one another.

If you have a neighborhood with lots of fun people, you can plan some ambushes on your neighbors. Just call them and let them know you left some cookies on their front porch and when they come outside, the kids can jump out and soak them. Just make sure you don’t play that prank on someone you don’t know very well and be prepared for the favor to be returned.

10. Throw a pool party!

A day at the pool is fun for the whole family. With such a variety of water toys, inflatables, pool noodles, and other items, everyone can find a way to have fun at the pool. Play Marco Polo or Most cities and communities have public pools with open swim hours for everyone. You may have to pay a small admission charge that helps them cover the cost of lifeguards and cleaning up.

You might be lucky enough to have access to a private pool in your yard or at a friend’s house. This is a luxury because you have more space to spread out and play. There are apps and websites, like Swimply, where you can even rent out private pool space to enjoy by the hour for a fraction of the cost of owning and maintaining a pool.

One other option to try is a hotel or resort. Some of them offer day passes to use the amenities, like the pool or spa, and you don’t even have to be a guest. You can rent a cabana and spend the day playing in the sun and taking advantage of these beautiful locations and then you can return home at the end of the day.

11. Slip down the slides at the local water park.

Water parks come in all shapes and sizes, but what each of them includes is at least one water slide. It’s the perfect mix of a thrilling and adrenaline-pumping ride mixed with the wet and wild fun of a pool. 

Some parks have tons of slides and water rides to choose from. The Log Chute is a popular choice where a few people load into seats inside of a log and float along a moving river. It’s a nice peaceful ride until you climb to the top and the log is released to shoot down the hill and slide (and splash) into the water below.

Classic water slides require nothing but sitting down and letting the water carry you down the slide into the pool. Others allow riders to sit on tubes or inflatables where they might spin around as they slide to the bottom. See what the water parks closest to you have to offer and spend a day checking out the awesome attractions.

12. Organize a neighborhood car wash.

Some outdoor activities are not just fun, they can help raise money or give back to the community as well. Car washes are a fun way to put together a fundraiser. Many high schools, sports programs, and other organizations use these as a way to make money for tournaments, events, or uniforms.

If you are looking for ways for your kids to give back, have them put together a car wash. They can either charge people and use the money to donate to a charity of their choice. The other option is to put the car wash on for free for neighbors and anyone driving through the neighborhood. People will appreciate the kind gesture and kids will have a blast using hoses, sponges, and soap to clean and shine cars on a hot summer day.

13. Pull brave kiddos behind a boat.

A day out on the water can be lots of fun, especially if you have a motor boat. Paddling is fun too, but it’s hard to get anywhere fast and you aren’t able to pull another person behind a canoe or kayak. Many larger lakes have marinas along the shores that offer boat rentals. You can also hire someone to drive the boat if you’re not comfortable operating it in the water.

Some popular water activities for kids on a boat day include tubing, water skiing, wake surfing, and wakeboarding. All of these require a tow rope (except surfing) and someone to watch the people in the water and alert the driver if anyone falls off. You can also anchor the boat in a quiet spot in the lake and have some fun jumping off into the deeper water. 

Make sure to bring along enough life jackets for everyone on board, plus plenty of sunscreen, snacks, and water to stay hydrated. A boat day is a perfect way to experience the lakes or rivers from a new perspective and spend some good quality time together.

14. Set up the sprinklers.

One of the most classic and iconic water activities for kids is running through sprinklers in the yard. If you are already setting these up to water your lawn, it’s the perfect situation for kids to be able to play and splash around in them. 

Play games like limbo underneath the spray of water or try and run through without getting wet to make it more interesting. Otherwise, just let them go crazy and enjoy the cool water on a hot day. It’s a fun way to enjoy some water activities without worrying about any kids that aren’t able to swim yet being able to keep their heads above water. Just remember that the ground can be slippery when it’s wet, so there might be some wipeouts. 

15. Create a DIY Slip n’ Slide.

Hours of fun can be had with just a few simple supplies that you probably already have laying around your house. Using a tarp (or plastic garbage bags taped together), a hose, and a small hill or grassy area, you can create a do-it-yourself slip n’ slide. The store-bought versions are fairly small and have a limit on how long they last (especially options with inflatable sides). 

When you make your own, you can make it as large and long as you’d like. Adults can participate as well as kids. A hill will help everyone slide a little further, just be careful that it isn’t too steep. Real daredevils might even add a little lubricant to the slide using dish soap and see how fast you can get going on the slide. 

16. Take a swing at a water balloon pinata

Are you celebrating a birthday or special occasion on a hot summer day? Create a water balloon smashing game where your party guests can line up blindfolded and swing to try and smash a collection of water balloons. 

Organize some prizes for the people who break the most balloons or just use the game as a fun way to cool down and try something really memorable at your party. Another fun option would be to attach filled water balloons to the outside of a traditional pinata so you’re smashing water while also trying to bust open the pinata for prizes.

17. Practice diving skills.

One skill that kids will learn at swimming lessons, but requires some practice is diving. This means working on swimming underwater and practicing form while jumping off the diving board. If your local swimming pool has a diving board, kids can practice their dives and start to get good at reducing the splash and belly flops when they jump into the pool.

Underwater swimming can be practiced using some of the popular water games and toys. Diving sticks and toys that don’t float can be thrown in the pool and kids can take turns diving and attempting to pick them up from the bottom. There are some rings that are popular because they are brightly colored and easy to grab before swimming back to the surface. Just make sure that there is close supervision for kids practicing diving.

18. Surf the waves.

We mentioned wave pools above, but if you have a beach nearby, you can go splash and play in the real deal. Surf lessons are available at many of the popular beaches that have good beginner waves. Boogie boards are a great option for anyone that isn’t comfortable standing on surfboards. These boards are made for laying down and riding the waves instead of trying to stand and balance.

With either option, make sure there is a buddy system. The ocean is powerful and swimmers need to make sure they are remaining safe. Rash Guards, lifejackets, and sunscreen are all essentials when it comes to a surfing adventure.

19. Take a fly fishing lesson.

One unique and fun way to get in the water is to try fly fishing with your kids. If you live near a river or stream, check and see if there are lessons for fly fishing. It’s a fun way to learn more about the creatures that swim in the rivers and you’ll be standing sometimes waist-deep trying to catch one. 

There is quite a bit of skill involved with fly fishing, but instructors will help set you up with everyone you need to know. This could turn into a fun lifelong hobby and activity that you can all enjoy as a family.

20. Go flying off a water “Blob!”

Do your kids attend summer camp? If not, they might be missing out on one of the best accessories of many summer camps for kids—the Blob. This water accessory can be set up in any lake or large body of water. (A pool will not be big enough!) The idea is that one person lays on the giant inflatable water blob, and someone else gets a running start and jumps onto it, which sends the first-person flying into the air and landing somewhere in the water.

It’s been featured in movies set in a summer camp, and it’s tons of fun (although a bit dangerous). If you can get your hands on one of these, you’ll make some incredible memories.

Which of these water activities tops your list?

This list of fun things to do on a hot summer day should give you plenty of great options for summertime. Water activities for kids will not only get them moving around and using up energy, but it will help keep them cool on those scorching hot days.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best summer activities to help kids cool down?

There are easy water activities for kids of all ages that can be done in your own backyard. Set up a sprinkler to run through, have a water balloon fight, or offer to organize a car wash for the neighborhood!

What outside activities are good for preschoolers?

Younger kids love playing in the water on hot days. If you’ve got time to supervise, set up water activities for kids like a water table or DIY slip n’ slide for them to use in the yard.

How can I entertain the whole family this summer?

If you’ve already exhausted all the playgrounds and pools in the neighborhood, try doing some new activities with the family. Create a list of fun things or grab a copy of Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition!

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