5 Water Activities for Kids – Summer 2023 Edition
Spending time out on the water is pretty much synonymous with summer. It’s the perfect activity that allows you to spend time outdoors while still keeping cool! The great news is that water activities for kids are great, even when it comes to toddlers! While you always need to be safe when playing in the water with your kids, there is plenty to do and have fun with. Best of all, there is actually a lot that kids can learn from water activities, and more than just learning to swim!
If you are wondering what water activities are best for your kids, keep reading for our top picks as well as why water play is so great for toddlers and their development. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
Why is water play good for toddlers?
You might not think about water play being great for toddlers, but it actually really is. In fact, we’ll get to specific water activities later on, but keep in mind that water activities involve a lot more than just going swimming. There are other types of water play that are also important and fun for toddlers.
Overall, water play is good for toddlers for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the top reasons why it should definitely be on your list of activities to do with your child:
✓ Social skills: There is much to discover when playing with or in water and that will spark your child to interact and want to talk with you or their friends or siblings. It is a great way to engage them and get them talking. Have them share what they have learned with you or ask them questions and let them respond. Use descriptive words when talking about the water that can help them increase their vocabulary.
✓ Motor skills: When doing things like pouring or stirring or squirting water your child will start to develop strength, fine motor skills, and even things like hand-eye coordination.
✓ Problem solving/creative thinking: Water has very different properties compared to air and land that your toddler is getting used to. Seeing something float in the water, for example, is a totally new experience for a toddler. This gives them the ability to get creative with objects to see how they react – what items will float? Which will sink, and why? This is great for developing their problem-solving skills and overall imagination and creative thinking.
✓ Early science and math development: Like we mentioned above, there are different properties associated with water. This can help them form a basic and positive experience with science – learning is fun! You can also use water to help teach basic math and certain terms like half, more or less, and things like that. Fill water in buckets and teach your child what it means to be half full or half empty, to add more water, or take water away. Learning is so much fun when it involves water!
Is water play a sensory activity?
In addition to all those great skills that your toddler can develop from water play, it’s also important to point out that water play is also a sensory activity! Toddlers love exploring the world around them by touching everything as a way to understand it. Water play is great as a sensory activity. Your toddler can experience the different texture of the water, as well as different temperatures! Some water is very chilly, while some is warmer. It is also slippery, and will feel different on your hands, especially as it starts to evaporate in the sun!
To add even more sensory experiences, consider freezing some water and letting your child experience ice and melting. You can also add color by adding some food coloring, or smell by adding a scent to the water. Engage all your child’s senses with water play!
If you are looking for a great sensory activity to enjoy this summer, definitely add in some water play. Your child will learn a lot, and they will also have a lot of fun!
What games can you play in the water?
Now that you know about all the great benefits of water play, are you wondering what some great water play activities are? Of course you are! Here are our top 5 picks for water activities for kids.
1. Water Slide
Let’s face it – water slides are fun for the entire family! Whether you have toddlers, small kids, pre-teens, or teenagers, you can all have fun with a water slide! Best of all, there are so many fun water slide options available now for purchase that basically turn your backyard into a fun water park!
Not only is this fun, it can be a great sensory activity for toddlers as they learn to move on the slide and improve their balance and coordination and take in all the different textures of the slide itself and the water and so much more. Depending on how big or complex of a slide you use you might need to walk with your toddler on the slide. For your older kids- let them just go for it and have fun!
2. Water Relay Race
Here is another great group activity that is great for developing teamwork skills, motor skills, and sensory development. All you need are some plastic cups and larger containers. The race will take you from one end of the backyard to another (you could technically do this indoors but we don’t recommend it – there is sure to be some water spillage going on!).
One large container gets filled with water for each team. The goal? One person at a time fills their cup and runs to the other end to pour the water out into the other empty container. The team that fills the far bucket with all the water from the first bucket wins!
This is a great activity that is good for teamwork, general exercise, and water play. Best of all you can easily adapt this no matter the size of your family – whether you have a team as small as two, larger teams, or more than two teams playing, you can make it work for whoever wants to play! We recommend keeping the teams balanced age-wise – don’t have a team of 4-year-olds up against 8-year-olds – that isn’t fair!
3. Water Balloon Fight
It doesn’t get any more classic than a water balloon fight. There’s a reason this water activity has been popular for so many generations – it’s so much fun! In addition to being fun, there are actually a lot of skills being worked on with water balloons. Not only are the balloons themselves a great sensory tool, playing with them involves teamwork, motor skills, and creativity, and strategizing.
How can you best throw your water balloons and hit your opponents without getting hit yourself? Form teams and have fun! Determine what the rules are in advance and be sure to have an awesome prize waiting for the winning team.
4. Sprinkler Fun
Another classic activity, and one that involves almost no planning or set up, is to just break out the sprinkler and set it up in the backyard! The larger ground sprinklers work best for this that move back and forth in different patterns. Not only is the water great for cooling off, but learning the various sprinkler patterns and figuring out how to avoid (or not avoid) the water makes this a great learning activity as well!
5. Water Limbo
Regular limbo is always a fun activity to play with your kids, but it gets even more fun when you turn it into water limbo! All you need is a hose with a strong enough nozzle that water will shoot in a long enough straight line. Whoever’s turn it is has to limbo underneath the waterline. The line gets lower each round!
While winning involves not touching the water, if it is a super hot day you might just decide winning doesn’t sound so good and you go for the water instead to cool off! This is a great activity that is incredibly easy to set up. This will help your children with their balance and overall coordination.
We are sure that you are aware of this, but because we are discussing water activities, we have to point out the various safety measures to take when getting in the water with your kids. Be sure to always follow these safety precautions when heading to the pool, lake, ocean, or any body of water with your kids:
- Never leave your child unattended while in the water or even near water. This even includes the bathtub.
- Floaties are excellent to use but they do not replace watching your child. Be sure they are still in close range to you and that you are keeping an eye on them in case something were to happen.
- Always have your child wear a life vest when on a boat. You should also wear one as well even if you know how to swim in the event of an emergency.
- For water play activities that don’t include a body of water but rather pouring water or similar activities, be sure to clean up afterwards and step carefully to avoid slipping and falling.
Water play is incredibly beneficial for children as they grow and develop. As helpful as it is with developing their speech, imagination, motor skills, and sensory development, it also just feels like fun! This summer, engage in these fun water activities for kids. No matter what age your children are, they are sure to love these fun water games and activities. Whether you invest in a new water slide, or keep things simple and fun with a relay race, limbo, or a classic water balloon fight, you are sure to have an incredibly fun summer.