When the weather outside is hot, it doesn’t mean you need to stay inside with your family. In fact, there are many benefits of outdoor play as long as you do so safely. In the hot summer months, we recommend adding water activities to your plans to keep your children cool. And, of course, wear lots of sunscreen, take frequent breaks, and make sure everyone stays hydrated.

In this guide, we’ll outline some of our favorite outdoor water activities and games for kids and you can keep the water fun going with enriching bath toys! Getting your children comfortable with water is one of the best ways to keep them safe in the bathtub and around bodies of water like pools and lakes. Use our guide to learn more water safety for kids.

Water activities for kids

Outdoor water activities for kids

Most people take to the outdoors when considering water activities to preserve their homes from the mess. If you have a backyard, that is a good place to go, but if not, you can go to a local park, playground, or the beach. 

Finding the perfect water activities for your family often depends on the ages and interests of your children. We’ve broken it down so you can find the right activities for your family.

Water activities for babies and toddlers

  • Have fun with a water table: Playing with a water table is a great sensory activity for young children and they can stay cool and safe! You can buy a water table or make one yourself fairly simply. If you do it yourself, fill a bucket or large container with water and add some sensory items like bouncy balls, rubber ducks, foam letters, and more!
  • Run around in the sprinkler: Toddlers love to run around and have fun. Set up a sprinkler and let your toddler run through it to cool down. They will love getting wet and exploring the feeling of the water on their skin.
  • Explore a splash pad or spray pool: Public parks, playgrounds, and beaches often have splash pads or spray pools open during the summer to keep children cool. Head to one with your family and have fun running through the different sprays! Your child can make friends and explore a new space while still cooling down.
Photo of water activities for kids

Water activities for older children

  • Set up a Slip n Slide: If your children are on the older side, then setting up a Slip n Slide in your backyard or local park is a great way for them to have fun and stay cool. Just remember: These can be dangerous so you need to be supervising them the whole time. Make sure they are on a flat patch of grass and not near any trees, busy roads, or anything like that.
  • Relax in a blow up pool. Sometimes, the best activity is just hanging out. Especially when you have children who are a little too cool for school (or you!), setting up a blow up pool and letting them hang out, read, and chat with each other is a great way for them to cool down and have fun outdoors.
  • Have a car wash. If your children are entrepreneurial, they might enjoy running a car wash on a hot summer day! It’s like a lemonade stand where they still have fun, get wet, and maybe even make some spending money.

Water games for kids

  • Start a water balloon or water gun fight: Just like snowball fights in the winter, water balloon fights are a fun way to let off steam and cool down on hot summer days. As always, children, even older children, should be supervised by adults when they play games like this so everyone stays safe!
  • Play duck, duck, splash: Duck, suck, splash is a summer version of duck, duck, goose. It’s a great game for a group of children. Have all of the children sit in a circle. Then, it follows the rules of duck, duck, goose except the child who is “it” is holding a bucket of water. When they get to the person they would have said “goose” for, they pour the bucket on their head and say “splash!” The rest of the game follows normally. 
  • Set up a water-themed scavenger hunt. Scavenger hunts are a fun way to get your children outside and exploring. Create a scavenger hunt for your family that includes ways to get wet, like fill up a water balloon and throw it at one of your teammates, use the sprinkler to only get one foot wet, and fill up a bucket of water exactly halfway. Your children will love the challenges! Use our guide with lots of great scavenger hunt ideas for kids.

Bath toys for kids

After a long day in the hot sun, a bath is necessary. You can keep the fun going in the bath, though, with enriching and exciting bath toys for kids! Bath toys can help your reluctant toddlers actually want to take a bath. Plus, the more comfortable your child feels in the bath, the more likely they will be to explore swimming in pools and other bodies of water.

Just remember: It is important to always supervise your small children in the bath and in any body of water. Safety is the number one priority!

  • Water pipe toy: This interactive bath toy helps teach young children hand-eye coordination, cause and effect, and problem-solving. Water goes in the top of the spout and filters through the many pipes and valves. Children can see the water mill feature, the shower head, and so much more!
  • No holes dinosaur toys: Did you know that bath toys with holes in them breed mold? Instead, try one of these no holes dinosaur toys to give your child a fun way to play pretend in the tub while staying safe from mold. And what child doesn’t love dinosaurs?!
  • Octopus ring toss: Make bath time more fun by adding a little game! This octopus floats around in the water and then your child (and you!) can try to toss the rings onto their arms. For babies, the rings are also great teething toys.
  • Stack and pour buckets: A bath time staple. Your child will love filling the buckets up with water and then pouring them back out. They might also make it easier for you to pour water on your child as you wash them because your child is used to, and most likely loves, these buckets!
  • Foam letters: Our early childhood learning expert explains that playful learning is one of the best ways to get your child ready to read. Adding foam letters to your bath time toy caddy is a great way to get them interested in letters and having fun while learning.
Photo of bath toys for kids

Water activities are great for kids in the summer because they keep them cool and let them have fun outside. We hope this article has given you some helpful tips and ideas for outdoor and indoor activities with your family in the summer and throughout the year. If you are looking for in-person and online activities for children, check out Sawyer and see what our wonderful educators have to offer!

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