21 Best Water Activities for Kids to Beat the Heat at Home

Feelin' hot, hot, hot? Get out the hose, fill some water balloons, or gather up a few crafty materials to set up these water activities and games to keep kids cool and entertained all summer.

Summertime is all about filling those long, hot days with fun outdoor activities to keep kids busy and happy. Sure, heading to the pool may be the simplest way to keep them cool and having fun. But even if you don't have regular access to a pool, you can still beat the heat while playing outside at home. All you need is a hose and these fun ideas.

We rounded up some of our favorite water activities and games for kids that you can set up without a ton of stress. No matter how old or young your kids are, most of these activities can also be modified to keep just about everyone happy for hours on end.

An image of siblings bursting water balloons in a backyard.
Getty Images.

Make a Water Blob

If you don't have a pool in your backyard or neighborhood, you've got to try making your own water blob! With just a roll of heavy-duty plastic sheeting, duct tape, and a hose, you can create a water-filled, giant pillow that'll keep kids busy all day.

Check out this tutorial from the Clumsy Crafter blog for some assistance.

Foam Water Table

For a slippery, soapy twist on traditional summer fun, try a colorful foam water table, like this one from the Busy Toddler blog.

Simply add dish soap to your kids' water table, and agitate to make tons of bubbles. Try dropping in some food coloring and have the kids mix up a rainbow of colors. It's a great way to breathe life into an old toy.

Construct a Pool Noodle Water Wall

Little ones of all ages are sure to get a kick out of making a water wall out of pool noodles, like this one from Teaching Mama. You can use tape, string, or zip ties to create an obstacle course for water.

Water Bottle Freeze Tag

Grab some spray bottles, fill them with water, and let your little ones run wild! A wild game of water bottle freeze tag is a great way to pass the time on hot summer afternoons. Got older kiddos? Switch out the spray bottles with their high-powered water blasters for a more mature version of this fun activity.

Ice Excavation

Are you on the hunt for water activities for kids who love to explore? Try this fun activity from Glue Sticks Blog: Add small plastic toys to a water-filled bowl, then freeze it.

Turn the bowl upside down and release the block of ice for a fun excavation activity for little ones. Give your child tiny hammers (and plenty of supervision) and watch as they slowly chip out the frozen toys.

Water Gun Races

This fun take on an old carnival favorite is a must-do for the neighborhood kid gang. In this game, featured on the All For The Boys blog, a plastic drinking cup hangs from a string that's suspended between two trees. Kids can use water guns to see who can move the cups along the string from one end of the string to the other fastest.

Water Balloon Piñatas

For a summertime spin on a party classic, try filling water balloons and hanging them like piñatas, like these, featured on Milk Allergy Mom. Your kids can take turns batting them down one at a time or all at once for a splashing good time.

Water Balloon Sports

Got a baseball fan? This game will be a home run.

Fill a large tub of water balloons and let your kids hold their own "batting practice" session on a hot day. It's one of our favorite water activities for kids itching to get back onto the field in the fall.

Another way to keep up on those sports skills sharp during the hot weather months is to gather the kids for a little bit of pigskin—water balloon style! They're sure to get the giggles as they "go long!" just knowing they're about to get splashed.

Duck, Duck, Splash!

This summertime twist on the classic kids' game "Duck, Duck, Goose" will keep little ones entertained all summer. The person who's been chosen as the "goose" walks around the circle with a big cup of water. When they finally choose the next goose, they'll dump the water over that person's head and then start running!

Water Hose Helicopter

Here's another classic: have your kids take a water hose and swing it around in a low circle, like a helicopter propeller. Everyone stands in a circle around the person swinging the hose, and when it comes to them, it's their job to hop over. Anyone who doesn't hop high enough or fast enough is out—and wet!

Fill the Bucket

If you're searching for a super inexpensive water activity, here's one you can pull together with just a few plastic buckets and sponges.

There are many different ways to play this game, but essentially, split everyone into two teams and nominate one person from each team to hold a bucket on their head. Then let their teammates race to be the fastest to fill the bucket.

How they fill it is up to them—they can race with wet sponges, carry cups of water on their own heads, or do anything they can dream up.

Beach Ball Blaster

Break out the beach balls and the squirt guns! Host a challenge to see how many different water activities for kids they can come up with. Who's the best at keeping the ball in the air using only a squirt gun?

Kiddie Pool Kickball

Want a water activity for tweens? Kiddie pool kickball simply can't be beat.

You'll need to construct a diamond-shaped playing field from heavy-duty plastic sheeting (think: baseball diamond) and obtain four kiddie pools, one for each base. Then let the games begin!

Instead of running the bases after they kick the ball, kids will get a running start, then slide down the baseline right into a kiddie pool.

Ice Cube Painting

Some water activities for kids require just a bit of advance planning, but they're totally worth it.

For this one, freeze non-toxic washable paint and water into ice cubes the night before. Then let your kids design with them as they melt under the summer sun. It's a great alternative to sidewalk chalk or a cool way to design a new t-shirt.

Water Gun Painting

Similarly, you can help your kids load their water guns with non-toxic washable paint for a pain-free afternoon of paintball, summer edition. If "painting" each other with squirt guns isn't an option, here are a few ideas for what to paint on:

  • Plain white shirts
  • Hang a white sheet to create a canvas
  • The sidewalk or driveway
  • Pieces of paper laid out side-by-side like a grid to create a mural in parts

DIY Slip 'n' Slide

Don't have a slip 'n' slide? Don't sweat it.

Pick up some heavy-duty plastic sheeting, apply a bit of shampoo or olive oil, and crank up the sprinkler. It's proof you don't need anything fancy to pull off some of the best water activities for kids.

Check out this detailed tutorial from All Things Thrifty to make one for less than $50.

Sponge Bombs

Follow this simple tutorial from Inner Child Fun to learn how to make colorful, fun water bombs out of household sponges.

They're much easier to clean up than water balloons; the best part is your kids can use them repeatedly. Let your kids toss them at one another all day, or challenge them to devise more fun games to try.

Water Sensory Bin

If you're searching for water activities for toddlers, it doesn't get any better than a water-based sensory bin.

To get started, find a low, wide plastic bin and fill it with just a few inches of water and some favorite small plastic toys.

We like this cute one from Active Littles. The options are pretty much endless, and your little ones will be entertained longer than you thought possible.

Water Obstacle Course

This one might take a bit more work to set up, but it's one of the best water activities for the whole family. Need some inspiration? We love this "car wash" water obstacle course set up by Mom Endeavors.

Kiddie Pool Treasure Hunt

Hosting a few of your youngest neighbors? Try filling up a plastic kiddie pool and tossing in a bunch of small toys, like plastic animals or gold coins. Then, hand kiddos a bucket and challenge them to search for the "treasure."

Water Limbo

How long can they go? Grab that hose, and let's find out! Have one person hold the hose a certain height from the ground, then let everyone else do the limbo to see how low they can go without breaking the water flow.

And When All Else Fails? Sprinkler!

Have you exhausted your list of summertime water activities for kids? It's time to bust out the sprinkler!

There's nothing like simple fun while the kids are off school for the summer. Whether you have a basic garden sprinkler or a super deluxe kid version like you can find at Target or Amazon, a sprinkler always puts a smile on their faces.

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