The Best Outdoor Water Activities to Keep Your Kids Cool This Summer
Beat the summer heat with any of these incredible outdoor water activities and games
Is it just us, or has summer completely snuck up outta nowhere this year? With the kids out of school (cue the “I’m borrrrred,” and “I don’t know what to do now”s) and those hot, hazy days upon us, we’ve put together the ultimate list of outdoor water activities that will not only keep your kids entertained, but keep them cool as well.
Add a few of these creative water games, DIYs, crafts and activities to your summertime arsenal, and you’ll be smooth sailing until school’s back in session.
So get your kids out of the air conditioning, and outside to make some memories – just don’t forget the sunscreen!
PIN for when the temperatures rise
If your kids love playing games outside, they’ll be even more excited to try these water games. From ice bowling, to relay races, to target practice with squirt guns – there’s something that’s sure to keep your kids entertained for hours.
(1) Cut a hole in a water bottle, tie it on top of your child’s head and then aim to fill it up with a water gun or spray bottle! (pic via Pinterest, source unknown)
(2) Duck Duck Splash is a cool twist on an old classic (via Inspiration Made Simple)
(3) Grab a beach ball and a squirt gun and see who can move their ball to the finish line first (pic via Pinterest, source unknown)
(4) Your kids will have good clean fun with Forehead Fill (via Whimsy Love)
(5) You can’t help but laugh your way through a game of Tipsy Waiter – great for older kids (and parents too!) (via The Creative Bite)
(6) Your kids will have endless fun playing Fill The Bucket, and all you need are a few sponges and containers (via The Resourceful Mama)
(7) See who can stay dry the longest in Water Limbo (via Simplistically Sassy)
(10) Both toddlers and big kids will adore these Shark and Water games, including “Roll 6 and Splash”, “Don’t Soak the Shark” and a fun water transfer relay! (via Toddler Approved)
(11) Grab a squirt gun, plastic cup and piece of string and challenge your kids to an epic Water Gun Cup Race (via All for the Boys)
(12) Who knew bowling could cool you down?! It can with Ice Bowling (via Learn Play Imagine)
(13) Snag some empty cans and set-up a super fun Water Gun Target practice (via Hands on as We Grow)
(14) What do you get when you mix a rain gutter with a bar of soap?! These genius Soap Boat Races of course! (via I Heart Naptime)
(15) Challenge your kids (and keep them entertained all day) by creating your very own Water Obstacle Course (via Meaningful Mama)
(16) Your little ones will love spending the day Toddler Fishing – and can even learn at the same time! (via I can Teach my Child)
(17) Learn tricky sight words with this genius Pool Noodle Sight Word Boat Races game (via The Educators’ Spin On It)
(18) Try these fun Math Pool Games to sharpen your child’s math skills (without them realizing it!) (via Toddler Approved)
(19) Use ball pit balls for this Sight Words Swim game (via Coffee Cups and Crayons)
(20) All it takes are some sponges to get your kids moving (and thinking!) with Swimming Pool Scrabble (via Toddler Approved)
(21) Help your kids with their number recognition and practice their swimming skills with Floating Numbers (via Paging Fun Mums)
(22) Color Hunt & Sort for Toddlers will teach your tots their colors in no time (via Toddler Approved)
water balloon fun
Nothing beats the summer heat like a good, ol’ fashioned water balloon fight, but take it to the next level with any of these creative backyard water balloon games:
(1) The kids will be giggling up a storm playing this Water Balloon Towel Toss Game (via Love Play Learn)
(2) Or increase the difficulty even more by adding a net with Water Balloon Volleyball (via Urban Goes Country)
(3) Everyone is sure to have a blast with a little Water Balloon Target Practice (via Tinker Lab)
(4) Your little ones won’t ever want to come inside with this Water Balloon Piñata (via Posh in Progress)
(5) Set up a few hula hoop targets and you’ve got instant fun with this Water Balloon Ring Toss (via Create Craft Love)
(6) Trade the piñata for a hanging water balloon in Water Balloon Bash (via Fireflies and Mudpies)
(7) See who can catch the most water balloons using a colander on their head in this refreshing Colander Catch game! (pic courtesy Flickr Tom Clifton)
(8) Sponge Water Bombs is a fun take on a classic water balloon fight (via Positively Splendid)
(9) Let your little athlete show off their skills playing Water Balloon Baseball (via iCandy Handmade)
(10) Squeeze in a little educational play with this Water Balloon Number Game (via and next comes L)
(11) Hide-n-Seek meets water balloon fight with a Water Balloon Hunt (via Mess for Less)
(12) Cool down the classic egg and spoon race by making it a Water Balloon and Spoon Race! (via Create Craft Love)
If you’re the type that loves to take on a challenge all in the name of fun – then we’ve got the DIY for you!
(1) Put dad to work making this huge PVC Sprinkler – your kids will have hours of fun! (via The Idea Room)
(2) Cool the kids off in style with this DIY Kid Wash (via Apartment Therapy)
(3) Who needs to buy one when you can Build Your Own Sprinkler out of a simple plastic bottle! (via Housing a Forest)
(4) Turn a pool noodle into a sprinkler with this easy Pool Noodle Sprinkler DIY hack (via Ziggity Zoom)
(5) Grab a drop cloth to make your own giant Slip-and-Slide (via Inner Child Fun)
(6) Or try this tutorial for a DIY Water Slide using a camping tarp (via Happy Hooligans)
(7) Make a Freestanding DIY Water Wall and watch your child experiment all summer long (via Babble Dabble Do)
(8) This Pool Noodle Water Wall will have all the kids in the neighborhood flocking to play (via Teaching Mama)
(9) A Waterfall Water Wall will engage their minds while keeping them cool (via Playing by the Book)
(10) Recycle plastic bottles with this simple DIY Water Wall (via Tinker Lab)
(11) This Toddler Water Wall is a toddler’s dream come true (via Adventures and Play)
(12) Your kids will have the time of their life with this Water Play Accessories Board (via The Wonder Years)
(13) Let summer bring out the kid in you with these DIY Water Blasters (via Mom Endeavors)
(14) Your kiddos have never seen something so cool as this DIY PVC Pipe Rocket Launcher (via It’s Always Autumn)
(15) If your kids are hockey lovers, make your own Water Knee Hockey Rink using a simple tarp (via Somewhat Simple)
(16) Create your very own Backyard Water Park for a whole day of cool-down fun (via Learning 4 kids)
(17) This may just be the most fun your kids will have all summer with these DIY Mini Water Blobs (via Hello, Wonderful)
(18) Or go big with this massive Water Blob Tutorial – perfect for playdates! (via Clumsy Crafter)
(19) Who needs a bath when you can have a DIY Kiddie Car Wash?! (via Mom Endeavors)
(20) This Trike Wash gives a whole new meaning to Drive Thru (via Apartment Therapy)
(21) Tots will have so much fun putting their Hot Wheels through this DIY Toy Car Wash (via Fun Mums)
(22) Let the little ones explore all that lies underwater with this cool DIY Underwater Scope (via All for the Boys)
crafts + activities
Crafting just got a whole lot more exciting with new ways to play using water and ice. Let your kids in on the fun, and see what awesome creations they come up with!
(1) Painting never looked so fun with these Frozen Paint Cubes (via Hands on as We Grow)
(2) Make sidewalk chalk cool again (literally!) with these colorful Frozen Popsicle Chalks (via Reading Confetti)
(3) See what masterpiece your kids can make with Rainbow Ice Cube Painting (via Things to Share and Remember)
(4) DIY Ice Paints are the refreshing way to go for your little Picasso (via Mom Endeavors)
(5) Painting with Water is a fun take on water-colors where you make the pavement your canvas (via Juggling with Kids)
(6) Break out your old rollers and paint brushes and see if your kids can paint the driveway (via Hands On As We Grow)
(7) Make incredible art with vibrant colors with this Wet Sidewalk Chalk hack (via Apartment Therapy)
(8) Let the little ones play and build with Ice Bricks (via Play at Home Mom)
(9) Have your kids make a Sponge Lei to wear for an instant cool down (via One Crazy House)
(10) This Marble Run Water Slide is the coolest craft to keep your little ones entertained for days (via Mama.Papa.Bubba.)
(11) See your children’s imagination take flight with these Tin Foil River and Mini Ice Boats (via Reading Confetti)
(12) Or make these Ice Cube Boats and sail into the chill zone (via Alpha Mom)
(13) Grab some kitchen utensils and your kids will have a ball with Polka Dot Soup (via Fun At Home With Kids)
Looking for more creative ways to stimulate your little ones while keeping them cool? Check out this round-up of sensory games using water and ice!
(1) Create a Water Bin with Tubes & Tunnels and watch the magic happen (via Happy Hooligans)
(2) Your kids will have so much fun playing with Colored Water they may never want to stop (via Happy Hooligans)
(3) Scrub a dub dub, a cute baby in the tub! Watch their imagination run wild with this darling Baby Bath Station (via Mama Papa Bubba)
(4) Make a Sensory Duck Pond for great imaginative play (via Mama Papa Bubba)
(5) Your little helper will love this Outdoor Dish Washing Station – it’s good, clean fun (via Mama Papa Bubba)
(6) Tantalize your child’s senses with this Pom Pom Squeeze Water Play (via Fantastic Fun and Learning)
(7) Challenge your budding construction worker with these fun Frozen Excavation game (via Hands on as We Grow)
(8) Toddlers will love playing at this simple Pouring Station (via Busy Toddler)
best water toys/products
If you’re not one for DIY, try any one of our top-rated water toys – they’ll provide your kids with the cooldown they need to stay outside in that hot summer heat.
A water table can keep kids entertained for hours and we highly recommend the selection from Step2. Go simple with the (1) WaterWheel Activity Play Table or more complex with the (2) Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table Playset (kids love the 2 levels of play and shower feature on this one). Keep it fresh all summer long by adding different toys or everyday items – make an underwater raceway with small cars, a sunken construction site with trucks, a restaurant with kitchen utensils or a plunge pool fit for princesses!
If you’re looking for a small, simple pool for the kids to cool off in and splash around, the (3) Intex Kiddie Pool fits the bill. There’s a padded bottom that makes it super comfy – meaning that your kids will ultimately spend more time in it (while you sit back and watch with your feet up!). It also comes in a smaller Baby size. (Tip: this pool can also be used as a ball pit)
The (4) Intex Family Inflatable Pool is a great size for your kids to spread out in and really feel like they’re “swimming”. It’s simple to set-up (but does require an electric air pump) and will easily fit 4–5 kids for a cool down dunk.
Slip ‘n’ Slide: We spent hours on this classic toy as a child, but they’ve improved over the years and now boast some extra bells and whistles. We recommend the (1) Intex Surf ‘N Slide Inflatable Play Center as a less extreme option for younger kids, and the more classic (2) Slip ‘n’ Slide Wave Rider Double for older kids (this one has 2 lanes which is fun for races and comes with inflatable boogie boards which makes for a more comfortable and faster ride!)
Sprinklers: There’s nothing like a good “run through the sprinklers” to make it feel like summer. But these sprinklers are anything but classic. Try the (3) Tidal Storm Hydro Swirl Spinning Sprinkler, (4) Splashy the Fire Hydrant (which spins and sprays water up to 8ft), or the (5) Melissa & Doug Blossom Bright Sprinkler.
Water Guns: Water guns are pure fun for kids on a hot summer’s day – our favorites for target practice and water battles are the (6) Nerf Super Soaker Scatterblast Blaster and the (7) Stream Machine Water Launcher.
Water Balloons: When it comes to speed and convenience, you really can’t beat (8) Zuru’s Bunch O Balloons. Simply connect them to your hose, and seconds later you have 35 filled water balloons ready for an epic fight.
And if you have older kids, don’t pass on the (9) Bunch O Balloons Slingshot – it’s great fun for target practice, whether that includes people or not!
Splash Pad: This (10) Sprinkle ‘N Splash Play Mat is a must buy if you have a toddler. Simply attach to a garden hose and water sprays from the edges (control the height with the amount of water pressure) and creates a splash pool an inch or so deep…just the right amount of water to keep them cool and allow them to splash and stomp about!
If you’re lucky enough to have a pool (or access to one), there are some fantastic pool toys that can add to the excitement as the summer wears on. We love this large inflatable (1) floating basketball hoop, (2) SwimWays Toypedo Bandits dive toys, and (3) Melissa & Doug Spark Shark Fish Hunt.
And don’t miss the (4) SwimWays Zoom-A-Ray – it is one of the coolest pool toys out there. Simply push it underwater and release to watch it glide quickly through the water. The ray’s wings are adjustable so you can have it do “tricks” and turns. Kids have a blast racing to catch this one!
Although the (5) Waboba Surf Ball is best suited for use in an ocean or lake where you can really take advantage of the large open space, we had kids having a ball (literally!) with it in a pool as well. Throw this soft ball against the water’s surface and it will bounce off – making for a super refreshing game of catch.
If you have older kids that can easily swim underwater, you’ve got to get a (6) Watermelon Ball. Fill it with water and it becomes neutrally buoyant, so it doesn’t sink or float – rather it suspends itself so you can throw and bounce it underwater. Kids get really creative playing with it – inventing new games and trying new tricks. Super fun! (also available in a smaller size, Watermelon Ball Jr.)
Inflatable Water Slides
OK, time to pull out the big guns. These inflatable water play sets will put a regular bouncy house to shame, and add in another element of fun with lots of spraying and splashing. If you have kids with summer birthdays, host a family reunion, or have neighborhood parties, any of these large water park-esque toys will be a worthy investment!
For the toddler set, the (1) Intex Rainbow Ring Water Play Center offers a mini slide, wading pool, water sprayer and ring toss game and will keep them happy all day long.
If you’re looking for something a little more substantial, the (2) Blast Zone Hydro Rush Inflatable Water Park is great for kids 3+ (younger kids will have a tough time climbing up to the slide, but can still enjoy the large splash pool) with a 10ft slide and spray cannon. It includes a blower for fast set-up and is made of commercial vinyl to withstand plenty of wear ‘n’ tear.
Or go all-out with the (3) Blast Zone Pirate Bay or (4) Shark Park which offer three times the fun – a water slide, splash pool and a bounce house. These inflate quickly (just a few minutes) with the included air pump and are made of sturdy material that can stand up to rougher play. They also include a tunnel entrance and fun sprayers. Your kids will never want to come inside!!
We hope we’ve helped you find some new ways to play with water and beat the summer heat. Just don’t be surprised if your kids never want summer to end!
about the author:
Cammeo (Kuh-Mayo) Murray is a style and mama blogger at CammeoHeadtoToe.com, covering fashion, beauty, home, and mamahood. She is a Texan at heart, having grown up in Houston where she now lives with her husband, four year old son and baby girl. You can connect with her at CammeoHeadToToe, CammeoHead