Summer is a great time to get the kids outside and cool off with some fun water play activities. Of course, if you have a sprinkler, splash pad, or kiddie pool, children can run, jump, splash and play. There so many other ways to keep your kids busy, while also encouraging imagination and learning by playing with water in your own backyard. Even better is that water play promotes developmental skills such as hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, as well as introduces science and math concepts while being fun and therapeutic!
If you don’t have a water table, any container will do: mixing bowl, storage bin, or bucket. Fill it up with water and let the kids splash away! Adding squirting bath toys, cups, spoons, straws, funnels, and other safe kitchen objects will enhance the fun and keep your little ones filling and dumping for hours. You can also add a little color using tub tints or a tiny bit of washable colored paint (food coloring is ok too, but can stain clothes). You can also add just a little bit of children’s, tear free, liquid bath wash to make bubbles!
Water Play: Frozen Treasures
With just a little bit of advanced planning, you can create an exciting scientific experience for your kids. All you need to do is fill some containers of different sizes (ice cube trays, Tupperware, measuring cups, etc…) with water and add an item to each one. Items can include toy figures (that are water safe), flowers, legos, or anything else you can find. Be sure that the items are not choking hazards based on your child’s age and developmental stage. Next add a little color to each container and freeze over night. Put your frozen treasures into one big container and give your child plastic syringes or eye droppers and a cup of salt water. Let them use the salt water to dissolve the ice and find the treasures inside! You can relate this to a specific interest as well, such as making dinosaur eggs. Put a small dinosaur inside a balloon and fill it just enough to look like the shape of an egg. Freeze and peel the balloon off to begin the fun!
Painting With Water
This is a super simple and clean activity that can keep children engaged for a long time! Give your kids paintbrushes of different sizes, paint rollers, and a big bucket of water. Let them paint the town! For this water play activity, they can “paint” the house, driveway, trees, fence, or anything else around the yard. The water will simply dry off and they can do it all over again!
Kids often love to create concoctions and potions. All they will need are a few bowls, some water, a pair of child safe scissors, and spray bottles (optional). Have the children start by going around the yard and collecting grass, leaves, flowers (with parent permission), and other items to add to their mixture. Offer a little added color, a drop of scented soap, and even glitter (if you dare!). Then they can mix up some sweet smelling nature perfumes! If they are old enough pour them into spray bottles and spray the trees.
Washing Toys: Carwash or Baby Dolls
Give children a large bucket of water, some children’s liquid bath wash, washcloths, and sponges. Let them clean their toys! Plastic baby dolls can be given a “bath” and even dried off with towels afterwards. Not only will this activity be fun for children and provide them with an opportunity for imaginative play, but it will also get those toys nice and clean! We love having a ‘car wash’ with outdoor toys at the beginning of Spring and before putting toys away for the Winter.
Continue water play by making your own mud kitchen with kitchen bowls, utensils, water, and dirt. Offer an old cupcake tin and let their imaginations sore! If your child has a birthday coming up this mud kitchen is a fun addition to the yard!
Sink or Float Water Play
Fill a bucket of water or your water table and collect water safe items from around the house. Set them out on the grass and have the children guess if they will sink or float before putting them in the water. Talk about what is happening and make a chart to extend this STEM activity.
With a little imagination, there are hundreds of ways for children to be creative and have fun while cooling off with water activities in your own backyard. Set up a water playdate with other Moms friends and Nannies and spend the whole morning outside!
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About The Author
Sarah Proctor has worked with young children for over 25 years as a teacher, childcare director, nanny, and mom of two girls. She has her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education and Administration from UMass Amherst. In addition, Sarah has her Director 2 certification from the Department of Early Education and Care.