18 Backyard Summertime Water Games

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    Beat the Heat With Water Games

    You don't need a pool to enjoy summertime water fun. And from water balloon sports to educational games, water-based activities are perfect for a hot afternoon. Kids will enjoy the opportunity to toss on their swimsuits and gather in the backyard for a makeshift water park. With a few inexpensive supplies, you'll be the talk of the neighborhood.

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    Water Balloon Baseball

    Two of the best summertime activities are rolled into one when you combine baseball with water balloon fun. For this game, all you need is a bat and balloons to make a big splash. The kids will enjoy filling the water balloons themselves and then smashing them with the bat. Award points for each balloon smashed until the bucket of balloons is empty.

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    Water Balloon Basketball

    Water balloons put a fun twist on any classic sport. And water balloon basketball makes little kids swoon. Just set up a miniature basketball net and fill a five-gallon bucket with mini water balloons, then turn them loose. Alternatively, you can shape a pool noodle into three small rings fastened by duct tape for a makeshift net. 

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    Water Table Fun

    An outdoor water table is a summertime staple for those with young children. It provides endless hours of fun while sharpening toddlers' motor skills at the same time. Just fill a Tupperware bin with water, set it on a kid-sized table in the backyard, and fill it with cups, a teapot, LEGO Duplos, and sponges in several shapes. Rotate between play items, and then simply dump it out in the grass when they're done. 

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    Water Blob

    A water blob is like a floating cushion for your yard (no pool needed). While this contraption takes a little forethought and prep to make yourself, the materials can be found at your local hardware store. With some painters plastic, parchment paper, and an iron or duct tape, you can make a romping pad perfect for little kids to slip and slide on.

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    Floating Sponge Boats

    If you're looking for a craft that can also be integrated into water table play, check out this floating sponge boat tutorial. The easy-to-make boats are made of dish sponges, plastic straws, and crafter's foam (available at your local art store). Once the boats are complete, take them to the kiddie pool, the beach, or use them as a bath time distraction.

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    Toddler Fishing

    Turn any kiddie pool into a backyard trout pound with a kid's fishing net and some floating fish decoys. Then, just add water and let your little ones pretend they're real fishermen. You can get creative with your "fish" additions too, by choosing different kinds of sea creatures cut out of floating foam shapes.

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    Sponge Toss Water Activity

    This sponge toss game entertains all ages of family members and you probably have the fixings for it in your garage. Just take two five-gallon buckets and add two large car washing sponges (soaked through, of course). Then, set up the game in your backyard. You can start by placing the buckets close together, tossing the sponge into the opposite bucket. Then, move the buckets farther apart once the distance has been mastered by all. Re-wet the sponges, as needed.

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    Squirt Gun Races

    A squirt gun race makes a perfect backyard party game. Not only is it original, but everyone will enjoy squirting the guns and watching their team's cup advance along a string. All you need is two lengths of sturdy twine strung between two fixed points, two plastic cups, and two squirt guns. Drill a hole in the bottom of each cup and affix it to the line so that it can slide back and forth. Then, have each team simultaneously squirt their high-powered gun into the cup to make it advance down the line. The first one to the end wins.  

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    Water Balloon Towel Toss

    The stakes are high in this water balloon toss, a game where two people try to load as many water balloons as they can manage onto a beach towel. Once loaded, the team sends them across to another team in a snapping motion. The team on the receiving end then tries to catch them in their towel. As you can imagine, someone's bound to get wet!

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    Giant Bubble Fun

    What kid doesn’t love giant bubbles? This DIY backyard bubble activity turns a hula hoop and some non-toxic dish soap into a bubble extravaganza. Here, kids make bubbles that are as big and tall as they are. Then, they allow them to drift, pop, and land wherever they may. The slow-motion movement is sure to elicit squeals from the crowd. 

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    Water Pistol Painting

    With some non-toxic poster paint or food coloring, this backyard art project allows kids to use their creativity. Set up a large canvas (purchased at any craft store), load up the guns, and dress the kids in old clothing or swimsuits. Then, let the artists have at it. 

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    Rain Gutter River

    rain gutter river takes water table play one step further by attaching two water tables with a sloping rain gutter. Make sure one table is just a tad higher than the other so that the water doesn't run too fast or too slow. Then, add in boats and toys that can float down the stream. This activity works great for little kids who love sensory play.

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    Bubble Snake Maker

    Get creative with your backyard bubbles by making bubble snakes. This unique spin on bubble play requires little more than a plastic bottle, a rubber band, and an old washcloth, piece of flannel, or a sock. Add food coloring to your bubble mixture to make snakes of all colors. 

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    Balloon-Powered Sponge Boat

    If you haven't hopped on the balloon-powered craft trend yet, the time is now to make a balloon-powered sponge boat. This craft requires construction that must be supervised by an adult or teen. But once the materials are cut and assembled, little ones can speed their boats across a water table or kiddie pool on their own.

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    Water Balloon Parachute

    Unlike motorized water balloon boats, a parachute requires little skill to make. All you need is a plastic grocery bag and a small, lightweight water balloon. Make a bunch of them, and then have one kid toss them into the air while another tries to catch it in a bucket. If you have a treehouse or play structure in your backyard—bonus—as kids can drop their chutes from above, rather than tossing them up.

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    Glittery Frozen Baloons

    On a really hot day, break out this perfect activity (but note: it requires some prep). Simply fill a handful of balloons with water, food coloring, glitter, or sequins, and then freeze them in the freezer the night before. The next day, set up a kiddie pool or water table and slice each balloon with a knife, allowing your kids to unveil the beautiful ice sculptures inside.

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    Water Obstacle Course

    Round up the whole family for a water obstacle course, complete with a slip and slide, water balloon piñatas, a crawling feature, and a water slide. For older kids and adults, include harder obstacles and games like a water fill relay or sprinkler limbo. Then, choose teams (each with a mixture of little and big kids) and hold a Survivor-style competition.

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    Lego Dam Building Activity

    Engage in some STEM-powered (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning by building a LEGO water dam with your kids. Help your kids discover the varied uses of dams and how they function. This activity is perfect for an outdoor water table and requires the LEGO pieces found in most basic sets.