Water is one of your cheapest, most readily available supplies for entertaining children of all ages. Have fun during any season playing indoor or outdoor water games and activities for kids or as a family. Incorporate a few water safety games and original activities to help kids appreciate this amazing natural resource.
Outdoor Water Games for Kids
When you're playing outside, you can go big and messy with water games since you won't have to worry about cleanup. Standard kids water balloon games and party games for swimming pools are great, but original and new water games will get kids even more pumped to play.
Spray Bottle Tag
Give each kid a clean spray bottle filled with water. Play using Freeze Tag rules modified so kids are "frozen" when they're squirted by the tagger. Kids who are "frozen" can only get "unfrozen" when another player allows the "frozen" player to spray them.
Squirt Gun Marco Polo
Enlist big kids or adults to act as barriers so no one wanders into a dangerous spot while they're blindfolded in this backyard water game. Blindfold all players and give one a full squirt gun. The kid with the squirt gun walks around saying "Marco" and when he does, all the other kids have to say "Polo." The one saying "Marco" tries to squirt all the other kids. If you get wet, you sit out and the last kid standing wins.
Turn on a sprinkler that moves from left to right and make sure you've got the water pressure all the way up. Kids take turns trying to "limbo" under the arc created by the sprinkler when it moves to one side. Each round lower the water pressure so the sprinkler's arc gets smaller.
Water Balloon Memory
Fill up several colors of small water balloons and grab large disposable plastic drink cups to make your own water balloon memory game. Lay all the filled balloons out in a grid ensuring there are an even number of each color. Set an upside-down plastic cup over top of each balloon. Two to four players take turns each lifting two cups. If the balloons under the two cups match, they can throw them at any players. If the balloons don't match, kids put the cups back on and play moves to the next person.
Connect Four Sponge Toss
Similar to the board game Connect Four, you'll need a large group of kids or family members to play this strategy game. Have 12 people get in three rows where the front row can sit down while the middle row kneels and the back row stands. Everyone should wear plain white t-shirts or tank tops. Two players will be the tossers. Soak six sponges in one color water and five in a different color. Players take turns tossing a sponge at one person in the grid on each turn. The first player to color four people in a line is the winner.
Outdoor Water Activities for Kids
Outdoor water activities can be independent or group activities. Find simple ways to modify your favorite outdoor activities with a water element to keep cool on hot days.
Beat the Sun Dot-to-Dot
Use sidewalk chalk to outline an image using dots on the sidewalk or driveway, then number each dot in order like a standard dot-to-do worksheet. Kids can use a wet paintbrush, spray bottle, or squirt gun to complete the dot-to-dot image before any of the lines dry up in the sun.
Set up a standard hopscotch board making it as long as you can. Choose a few random squares and create natural puddles in them or add shallow bins of water. As kids play by standard Hopscotch rules, they'll occasionally have to jump in a puddle of water.
Spray some water on top of a parachute then have kids play simple parachute games. As the lift, lower, and shake the parachute they'll all get wet. Keep a host nearby so you can add more water and keep the fun going all afternoon.
Follow the Water Leader
Set up stations around the yard with different sources of water such as a kiddie pool, water cannons, or splash balls. Have kids line up and walk around the yard in the line. The first person is the water leader and can take the group to any water station. At the station the leader can either get himself wet in a specific way or get others in the line wet. Either way, everyone else has to follow his lead. After each station, have the leader move to the back of the line.
How Wet Are You Mr. Fox?
Modify the classic playground or gym game, What Time is it Mr. Fox?, with a water element for some self-induced fun. Fill up buckets, cups, bowls, squirt guns, water balloons, and whatever water vessels or toys you have on hand. When kids ask "How Wet are you Mr. Fox?" the person who is Mr. Fox gets to say how they'd like to get wet. For example, she might say "I'm two squirts and a bucket wet." Then all the other kids would use the methods Mr. Fox requested to douse her with water. Each round a new kid gets to be Mr. Fox.
Indoor Water Games for Kids
Blind Fill Team Bathtub Challenge
Fill the tub with about four to five inches of water. Place a marked glass measuring cup in the center of the tub and throw in one plastic disposable cup. Two kids from a team sit in the water and one is blindfolded. The blindfolded player uses the plastic cup to try filling the measuring cup to the designated line. The other player can use words to guide their teammate on how much water is still needed. The team who fills the measuring cup to the closest line in the shortest time wins.
The Least Water Possible Race
Kids will need to hone their faucet skills in this mess-free indoor water game. If you have multiple faucets, each player can use a different one and play at the same time. Otherwise, you'll need a timer. Each player has one minute to fill a marked measuring cup with as little water as possible from the faucet. The only rule is there must be water dripping or streaming from the faucet at all times. The player with the least water wins.
Tap Water Relay
Create a start/finish line in your kitchen or bathroom where there's a non-carpeted floor. At the start/finish line you'll need one bucket and one water bottle with lid for each team. On a turn, one player from each team can run to any water source in the house, fill the water bottle, then run back and dump it in their team's bucket before handing the water bottle off to the next team. The first team to hit all water sources in the house wins.
Bowl Pong Toss
Lay out a towel on a hard floor then add a large bowl of water to each end. One player sits at each end of the towel and tries to toss their ping-pong balls into the opposite bowl of water. Make sure both players have an equal number of balls to start. On a turn, each player gets one ball and one toss. The player with the most floating balls after all have been tossed is the winner. To set up for more than two players, simply add more towels and bowls.
Water Bucket Horse
Fill a large bowl or bucket with water to serve as your "hoop." The game is played similar to the basketball game Horse where one player "shoots" their ping-pong ball in a specific way and the next player has to emulate that movement. If the second player misses the shot, they get a letter from the word "horse." The last person to spell out "horse" is the winner. You can play with anywhere from two to five players.
Indoor Water Activities for Kids
If you need some new ideas for busting boredom in the house or classroom, have fun with indoor water activities. Kids can do each activity independently, with an adult or caregiver, or in small groups.
Pom Pom Squish Art
Soak craft pom-poms in colored water; set up a bowl for each color. Little kids can use their hands, tweezers, chopsticks, or even tongs to grab the pom-poms and squish them on a sheet of paper. Challenge older kids to create a recognizable image with the squish art.
Absence of Color Art
Cut simple shapes out of paper then outline them with thick outlines using markers. Lightly coat a paintbrush with water and paint from the inner marker line to the outer marker line pulling the color outward from your tracing. You'll be left with white images surrounded by colored shading.
Tin Foil Water Maze
Older kids can use aluminum foil shaped into long corridors with sides to make an indoor water maze. The trick to keeping it water-proof is to use only one long, continuous piece of foil and not tearing any holes as you work. Make the corridors winding like a maze then float a boat through it or blow a piece of styrofoam through the maze using a straw.
Water Powered Tub Maze
Use bathtub crayons or rolled up washcloths and hand towels to create a maze path in the bottom of your bath tub. Kids can choose one small toy at a time to push through the maze with a water-loaded turkey baster. For an added science element, keep a chart of which toys moved the fastest and the slowest.
Mini Sink Water Spouts
Recycle some clean applesauce or yogurt cups into a series of fun water spouts in your kitchen sink. Design the layout of your spout system then have an adult help cut or poke holes in the cups so the water will flow from one to the next. Start with a clean, dry sink and use a removable adhesive like Command strips or duct tape to stick the containers to the wall of the sink. Pour water in the first "spout" and see if it flows as you planned.
Have Fun With Water
Water games and activities for kids don't only include summer party games. If you live in a climate that experiences all four seasons, you can still safely play with water during the winter months. For even more fun, fill a bin with all kinds of water tools and toys then challenge the kids to create their own water games and activities.