Backyard Water Fun (without a pool)

backyard water fun summer activities water play for kids

Late summer is the best time to be in, around, or on the water! And these fun ideas bring the water fun right to your backyard or balcony – no pool required. Kids of all ages will love these fun ways to cool off and you don’t need a lot of supplies to dive in. So, get out your swimsuits and jump in, the water’s great!

Ten Fun Ideas for Water Play

1. DIY Water Table

All you need for this is a shallow tub (such as the under-the-bed plastic tubs) or a small wading pool, a couple kitchen utensils, and some small plastic toys, ping pong balls, or pompoms.

Fill the tub with water, drop in the toys, and let your kiddo scoop them out with a slotted spoon or butterfly net.

So many great skills are wrapped up in this activity – everything including fine motor, large motor, reasoning, and you can even ramp it up with a little directed play for early learners in recognizing colors, numbers, and letters. Just ask them to find a certain color or shape, take out a specific number of something, or scoop out big to little.  

2. Pour, Fill, and Soak

Another sneaky learning activity for kids . . . pouring water back and forth is not only fun but it teaches spatial recognition and cause and effect. Gather up different sized containers (preferably clear so they can see the water going in) and add a couple funnels, ladles or small scoopers with handles and let them experiment with pouring back and forth. Talk about half-full and full and help them learn volumes.

Another fun pouring activity is to get sponges of all sizes (or other things that absorb water) and let them see which will soak up water better.

3. Target Practice with Squirt Guns.

Set up plastic cups on a railing, stack them in a pyramid or string on a thread or line and then have a contest to see who can shoot the most down or shoot water inside the cup to get it to the other side.

4. Make your own Sprinkler.

Punch holes in a pool noodle, plug one end with tape or a plastic cup glued on, and put the hose in the other end. Hang the noodle from a tree branch and the water will squirt out all over. Add a couple more for a fun drive-through bike wash.

5. Batting Practice with Water Balloons

Fill up a bucket of water balloons and then let the kids take a swing with a plastic bat – balance the balloon on a short cone for smaller kids or a batting tee for bigger kids.

6. Paint with Water.

Grab a bunch of larger paintbrushes, fill buckets up with water and let the kids paint the patio, driveway, or sidewalk. Perfect for sunny days as the masterpieces will disappear quickly and then they can start all over.

Add sidewalk chalk for a twist – draw outlines and have the kids paint them in. This is a great way for little kids to practice drawing letters, shapes, and numbers.

7. Water Balloon Volleyball

This is fun for the whole family and you’ll all be soaked when you’re done! You need two large bath towels or beach towels and a bunch of large water balloons. Set up a badminton net or just draw a line around the “court” to mark each team’s side. Grab a towel – one person on each end and toss the balloon back and forth. Continue volleying until someone drops the balloon or it pops. Feel free to make up your own rules for this game!

8. Sponge Darts

Grab some regular household sponges and soak them in a bucket. Draw a target with chalk on the patio or sidewalk – make multiple rings with each ring having a point value and then see who can get a bullseye. Keep score with extra chalk.

9. DIY Water Balloon Launcher

The older kids will love this one and it gives them a little engineering experience. All you need are planks (choose three or four different lengths), some bricks or logs to balance the board on (like a see-saw) and empty plastic tubs (large and shallow like a large sour cream container). Staple the tubs to one end of each board, let the kids set up the board and then launch the water balloon from the tub by stepping on the other end of the board. They’ll have fun improving the height and range and experimenting with placement of the board.

10. Backyard Mini River

This has so much potential for teaching but it’s also just plain fun. You will need two shallow tubs, two different heights of stools or chairs to balance them on, a length of plastic gutter (be sure the edges aren’t sharp) or a large pool noodle cut in half, a large cup for scooping up water, and toys that float like boats or rubber ducks.

Balance the tubs on the stools and then place the gutter over each tub with one end slightly higher than the other. Fill each tub with water and let the kids create a river to float their toys from one end to the other. Let them add rocks or boards to create chutes and rapids or have boat races. Once the top tub is empty, reverse the slope and refill from the bottom tub.

Of course, any water play makes a kid (and Mom) hungry! Be ready with some healthy snacks from The Good Grocer. We have Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Dairy-Free all chosen by us from small businesses with great taste and delivered to your door. Browse here.

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