Wacky Water Play

Summer months mean hot temps and no school. Parents want their kids to play outside, soak up the sunshine, and not spend too much time in front of electronics. But finding new and creative things to do outdoors is challenging!

Rainy days are great for KneeBouncer games, family movie time, and cuddles. But for those hot, sunny mornings and afternoons, we have a couple of wacky water play ideas the whole family will enjoy!

Toy Wash

Time for the toys to be cleaned, but tired of running them through the dishwasher? Get your little one involved by making it a game. Using shallow plastic bins or a kiddie pool, mix up some soap and water. Then give your tot some sponges or washcloths, and make washing the toys a game!

Alternatives are to make the toy wash-themed and fill up the bin with rubber ducks or plastic frogs. Or make a car wash or baby doll bath!

Make a Water Slide

Turn a playset or plastic slide from your backyard into a water slide using the hose! Place the bottom of the slide in a kiddie pool, attach the hose so water is sliding down the slide, and let your tot go to town in their own water park!

You can add sprinkles or splash pads to enhance the water park theme and build upon this wacky water play idea!

Sponge Bombs

If you’re like me, you love the idea of a water balloon fight but hate cleaning broken balloon bits out of your yard! Additionally, water balloons can hurt if thrown too hard, and balloons are ideal for kids under three as they present a choking hazard.

Instead, try these DIY Sponge Bombs from Messy Little Monster. These wacky water toys are easy to make, fun to play with, and a great way to cool off!

Rainbow Water Bin

One of the best sensory toys I ever used as a preschool teacher wasn’t an actual toy. They were plastic, reusable ice cubes you can find at almost any store! My favorites are the fruit-shaped ones, but they have cubes, stars, hearts, circles, and cylinders.

Buy a few dozen and freeze them, toss them into a kiddie pool or sizeable shallow bin with water, shovel buckets, plastic fruit, and colorful foam blocks, and you now have a rainbow water bin!

Build a Beach

This idea takes some prep and requires space, but if you can pull it off, it is a fantastic way for toddlers to play outside. Fasten a tarp to the ground with yard stakes and cover part of the area with sand. Place a kiddie pool filled with water on the other half of the tarp.

Add beach toys, a kid-size chair, an umbrella, and a backyard beach! Cover the entire area with a larger tarp, fastened to the ground at night to prevent animals from getting into the sand. Another option is to use a second kiddie pool filled with sand as the beach instead of a tarp.

Of course, kids still love the traditional running through the sprinkler option or playing with the hose when all else fails! The other day, I was watering my lawn when two neighborhood girls walked by with their mom and were delighted to run through the sprinkler on the sidewalk in front of my home.

Water play is the perfect way to engage your child’s senses, engage them in active play, and cool off simultaneously!

By L. Elizabeth Forry, Jun 16, 2023

written by

L. Elizabeth Forry 

L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with fifteen years of classroom teaching experience. She earned a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from The University of North Dakota and has a Bachelor of Arts in English and one in Music from Lebanon Valley College. She has taught children in Japan, Washington D.C., Chicago, and suburban Maryland. She is trained as a reading therapist, has a TEFL certification, and has done extensive work with children regarding mental health, social-emotional development, gender development. She has written curriculum for children and educators and has led training sessions for parents and educators on various topics on early childhood development. She is the mother of two boys and resides outside of Annapolis, Maryland.

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