It’s almost summer; the kids will get their vacation, and I know all moms are freaked out. My boys were a handful when they were going to kindergarten, and I dreaded summer ☀️ vacation days.
Luckily, I figured out some amazing and effective water 💦 play activities that kept them engaged and happy, giving me some alone time to do my chores or have a long bath.
In this article, I will be sharing those ideas with them. They are super easy to set up, and you won’t have to worry about your kids making a mess around the house. Hop in for a fun ride to become Super Mom this summer!
What Is Water Play?
I have always always considered water play to be the best way to provide kids with a sensory experience, especially toddlers. They get to play as they will, as well as learn useful stuff. Many moms wonder 💭 why sensory play is so important for kids. Let me tell you why.
Sensory bins 📤 improve a kid’s learning perspective by elevating their basic senses- touch, smell, sight, taste, etc.
Be it using a sprinkler or adding this to a paddling pool, you can do super easy, cheap, and efficient water activities to let your kids engage in a learning experience and have hours of fun.
Let’s look at several water play activities you can do with your kids this summer:
Creative Water Play
This section of the article brings to you creative water play activities for kids. Most of them are outdoor activities that can be set up easily and are the perfect way to keep your kids busy having fun during summertime.
Doll Washing Station
If your kids have a huge collection of toys 🧸, you can set them up with soap and water. It will be like an impromptu washing station where they can learn the importance of hygiene and have fun with water, too!
Bright and Sour Sensory Bin
This activity is fun to do and easy to set up. You can simply cut some lemons 🍋, add a lemon squeezer to the bin, add food and water coloring to each container, and ask your toddlers to experiment with it!
Pro Tip: I loved doing this activity with my kids because it improves a child’s hand-eye coordination, creativity, and senses.
Making Water-Themed Birthday Gifts
Your little ones can make a super fun birthday 🎉 gift for their friends using supplies that include water play.
You can buy them online, and with little guidance, they can make these gifts and have fun with water themselves, too!
You just need some bottle caps, a bowl of water, and a pipette for this activity. Filling and emptying the pipette is a great way to refine your kid’s motor skills. So, they aren’t just playing; they are learning too!
Pro Tip: You can ask your kids to experiment with distance to see how far they can shoot water from the pipette.
Pool Noodle Water Wall
Do you have pool noodles around your house? You can use them to make a water wall for your kids that they will love playing with. You can even experiment with the patterns or choose one online and follow it.
Water Table Kitchen
Is it even summer if your kids aren’t setting up a water table in the backyard? We often use it imaginatively by making a kitchen where my kids cook 👩🏽🍳 for the family, do the dishes 🧽, and play as they like.
Pro Tip: I ask my kids to use the turning Ferris wheel as a vegetable washing machine.
Ketchup and Mustard Play
Ketchup and mustard are important ingredients for waterplay. You can set up a water table for your kids.
The squeeze bottles are a great way to teach kids the concept of liquid flow and work on refining their motor skills.
This is another classic and efficient water activity that your kids will love doing. They can make paint 🎨 at home with simple ingredients like cornstarch, baking soda, and vinegar. It is an amazing creative activity for little ones.
Pro Tip: As food coloring, I always use icing gels because they produce the richest colors.
Scoop the Sea
One of my favorite water play activities that promoted fun learning for my kids was this one. You just need a sensory table, treasure chest, and some food coloring, and your kids are all set for hours of endless fun!
Easter Egg Foamy Water Bin
You just need to fill the sensory bin with hot water and toss in plastic Easter eggs 🥚. You can also use a ladle and plastic bowls to color-code the eggs. This is an efficient sensory water play activity for toddlers.
Pro Tip: I always add some dish soap while the water fills up in the bin. This makes the water bubble.
This is the most basic yet classic water play activity for your little ones. Help them explore their creative talent by asking them to paint something using watercolors.
Kids love forming different color combinations and giving expression to their imaginations.
My kids have always had this weird love for spooky activities. So, for Halloween 👻, they love making eyeball 👁️ soup using some green food coloring, ping pong eyeballs, and googly eyes. This is a hit at their Halloween party for friends!
Pro Tip: Make sure your kids are using completely sealed googly eyes for this activity. Perforated ones will let water in.
Give your watercolor activity a twist of winter by making snowmen ⛄️. I still have a framed painting my younger kid made when he was 3. It becomes an amazing New Year’s decor and a way to cherish our beautiful memories.
Halloween Water Play
This is so fun, even for adults! You can put together bones, bubbles, food coloring, plastic eyes 👀, and a play cauldron, and you are all set! My kids can play these water games for hours and still not get bored.
Pro Tip: This activity is the best way to teach your kids about water principles and work on their problem-solving skills.
Watercolor Shape Painting
Fun and educational! Not only do your kids get to have fun with watercolor, but they will also learn about various shapes ⭕️ and forms.
You can also ask them about snake creatures to understand the variety of species we have.
Plastic Egg Water Wall
With leftover Easter egg 🥚 halves, Velcro tabs, and a cup of water, you can easily do this water wall activity with your kids. They can play with it later, and the process is super easy and extra fun to do!
Pro Tip: If the water doesn’t come out rapidly enough, you can use scissors to make the holes wider.
With mason jars, food coloring, and water, your kids can explore the concept and principles of sound 🔊 by making a water xylophone and have fun, too. Also, teach them why red-colored water will have a lower sound than purple water.
Frozen Water Play
Trust me, with frozen 🥶 water play ideas; you won’t have to worry about tackling your bouncy kids throughout the summer vacation.
You can keep them ready in the freezer and take them out whenever you want your kids to remain engaged in something fun and creative.
This activity is a great way to include sensory play for alphabet 🔡 recognition. You just need an alphabet tray, food coloring, and a white paper roll. It starts with matching the ice alphabet and ends with their exploration of creativity.
You can set your kids with water, droppers, and primary colors 🎨. Then, ask them to explore the various colors and separate them into bins.
This is a great way to improve their sensory understanding, grip while writing, and motor skills.
Pro Tip: Always stay close by while your kids do the activity to make sure they don’t end up selling or, even worse, eating the ice.
Every summer, when we go to the beach, we collect some beautiful rock 🪨 specimens and bring them home to make a sensory bin by putting them in the freezer. Trust me, your kids will love playing with these ice rocks, too!
4th of July Sensory Bin
I remember my kids loved pouring stuff, be it water or sand. So, I came up with this outdoor idea when I bought star-shaped ice cube trays. It gives the 4th of July 🎆 theme and the fun of water play!
Pro Tip: You can ask your kids to use coffee filters to make fireworks.
LEGOs are so much fun to play with. Add an element of water play to it, and your kids will end up having loads of fun during summer afternoons. It is also a good way to refine their motor skills.
If your kids love spooky things and activities, you can make their water play activity interesting by keeping a Halloween 🎃 theme in it. For example, try making frozen eraser pods with spider rings and spooky eyes in a sensory bowl.
Pro Tip: If you are using decorative trinkets, make sure they aren’t too sharp to hurt the kids.
Ice Cube Sculptures
Ask your kids to make colored ice cubes 🧊 in separate trays. Then, let them use their imagination to create ice sculptures.
This is a great water play activity. The cubes stick together when you add some warm water to them.
Ice Skating Bears
Simply add bears 🐻 upright to frozen water and freeze the setup again. Wherever your kids feel bored, just take them out and let them play. This has been my savior for so many crazy summer afternoons, I can’t even remember!
Pro Tip: Sensory play is very important to help children learn collaboration and cooperation.
Melting and Breaking Ice
This particular activity is a major hit if you want to utilize water play to help your toddlers identify beginning sounds.
As they try to rescue the objects trapped in ice 🧊, ask them to identify and distinguish each beginning note.
Painting the Ice
Trust me, this is the coolest water play activity ever, especially for preschoolers. Give them squirt bottles filled with paint, dump a huge block of ice 🧊 in a storage bin, and your work is done. Let them have their fun!
Pro Tip: I always prefer using a shower curtain as a buffer during this activity.
Making Ice Ball Nature Soup
I love this water activity because it is clutter-free and connects children to nature 🌿 and sensory play.
Give your kids a muffin tin, food coloring, fresh flowers, and leaves from the garden, and let them prepare their own nature soup!
Rainbow Ice Town Excavation
With simple ingredients like eyedroppers, paintbrushes 🖌️, salt, and water-filled squeezy bottles, you can have endless fun with your little ones through this water play activity. It’s so fun finding out different colorful objects from the tower once you are done.
Pro Tip: Since you will be using foam beads and plastic necklaces for this activity, please stay cautious of choking hazards.
Rescue the Bears
I love water play activities that evoke a kid’s imagination and creativity. For example, I make up a plot about little bears 🐻❄️ being trapped in ice and ask my kids to contribute to it while rescuing them using squirt bottles.
Not only were my toddlers engaged in the activity, but I also got my freezer cleaned out! Dump ice 🧊 in a bowl and teach your kids to grab the ice cubes using tongs and transfer them to another tray/carton.
Pro Tip: If your kid feels the ice is too cold, you can put gloves on them.
Literacy Water Play
It’s important to teach kids about the lines 〰️, curves, and slants of the letters in the alphabet while they are toddlers. You can do this water play activity where you ask them to pick out letters from the ice pod.
Alphabet Ice Evacuation
This is an excellent outdoor water play activity for alphabet 🔡 recognition. You just need to add magnetic letters to a bowl of water and freeze it into a large block of ice. Your kids can then squirt the letters out.
Pro Tip: Since the letters are magnetic, you can ask your kids to put them on the garage door alphabetically later.
Give your kids one letter 🔤 card at a time, and ask them to splash paint using a squirt bottle onto a piece of paper to write what they saw. This is a great way to help them memorize the alphabet.
Math Water Play
Try making a water sensory bin 📤, but this time with buttons. You’ll see, your kids will not just love playing with this setup, but they are also going to learn counting. This is a great, fun learning activity for toddlers.
Pro Tip: The buttons are tiny. So, perform this activity with discretion.
Bear soup is an amazing imaginary water play activity for preschoolers. The kids will love playing with the colorful toy bears 🐻 and you can turn it into a counting game for them. So, it becomes a fun learning activity.
Pouring to the Lines
I remember my younger kid was fascinated with pouring stuff for a while. He would always insist on pouring syrup on pancakes.
So, I did the ‘pour to the lines’ 〰️ activity that teaches them measurement and counting while having fun.
Pro Tip: Use food coloring to help your kids understand the distinction between colors easily.
Scooping the Apples
I came up with this fun activity where I put different kinds of apples 🍎 in a bowl of water and asked my kids to sort them into separate plates. This way, I also get them to wash and clean them.
Water Bead Relay Race
This is a super simple yet fun activity. Simply scoop up water beads using a spoon 🥄 from one end and take them over to a bowl on the other side. You can also make your kids compete for a present.
Pro Tip: Always let the water beads soak for 6-8 hours before playing.
Nature Water Play
Trip to a Nature Source
If you are thinking of outdoor water play activities with your kids, you can take them to a nearby nature park 🏞️ or reserve where they can learn about natural water sources. Also, you can go fishing or boating with them.
Flower Sensory Bin
Don’t throw away those wilted flowers 🥀! Your kids can make an amazing Valentine’s special flower sensory bin.
Simply pour water into a storage bin and give your kids the flowers and scissors. They will love snipping and pulling petals out!
Pro Tip: Make sure your kids know how to use scissors properly and safely before you do the activity.
Cranberry Water Scoop
Scooping is a great activity for kids to learn how to keep their hands steady. Break open those cranberries and let your kids have fun with it! This is a great way to learn water principles and improve motor skills.
Muddy Water Play
There’s no harm in indulging in a bit of messy play. You can let your kids play in the muddy backyard and then wash themselves with the hose. Kids love getting dirty, and this way, your yard gets cleaned, too!
Pro Tip: After the kids are done playing, I lay all the supplies on the driveway to get sun-dried.
Ocean Sensory Bin
If you can’t go to the beach, bring it home! You can create an ocean 🌊 sensory bin at home to introduce the feel of the ocean to your kids. Use simple ingredients like ocean stickers, shells, driftwood, and ocean rocks.
Science Water Play
Your kids might not always be interested in indoor water play. Well, you can also let them have outdoor fun by setting up track loops for toy cars 🚘. Let them come up with their stories and play as they will.
Pro Tip: Try to keep your kids supervised when they are playing with water so that they don’t slip or slide.
Pool Noodle Wall
Pool noodles are a great way to incorporate science in water play. You need some pool noodles, zip ties, and a pegboard, and your work is done. Kids love pouring water into the water wall and shooting it out.
Oil and Water
This is my favorite science-oriented water 💧 play activity. With a few simple ingredients like water, oil, food coloring, and a light table, you can set up this experimental craft for your kids. Let them explore the fluid principles and movements.
Pro Tip: I prefer adding a few drops of essential oil to the mixture to make it more fun.
DIY Sponge Water Bombs
The best way to welcome summer is by making these sponge 🧽 bombs. All you need is a pack of songs and elastic bands, and you are all set. The little ones can even use the sponges to clean their toys.
Glowing Galaxy Sensory Bin
If your kid is interested in space ☄️, you can try this activity with them. All you need is a large plastic bin, empty bottles, marbles, glow sticks, and watercolors- and you have the perfect setup to make a mini galaxy.
Pro Tip: I would advise using plastic bottles instead of glass ones.
I know kids are not supposed to do household chores. But you can teach them practical stuff by making a dishwashing sensory bin where you give them some toy dishes, dish soap, and water. They will voluntarily contribute to chores 🧽 later.
Well, that’s it. These are the water 🚿 play activities that I found most useful with my kids. As you can see, you won’t have to cross mountains to set them up since most ingredients are always available around us.
Most of these activities are engaging, super fun 🤩, and benefit your little ones in one way or another. I am so glad to be able to help out moms seeking guidance regarding child management.
I would love to know how these worked out for you. Please leave a comment and share your views. 😁
Happy Summer! 🌞
I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for creating engaging and educational activities for children. I strongly understand child development and know how to create activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.