25 Refreshing Summer Water Activities for Kids

Published: May 30, 2021 · Updated: March 5, 2024 by Sacha — This post may contain affiliate links. Read our full disclosure.

What better way to cool down than with sprinklers, splash pads and water balloons? Beat the summer heat with these 25 outdoor water activities that kids of all ages are sure to enjoy!

Summer is (almost) here! Are your kids as excited as ours are?

We’ve been spending as much time as possible outdoors ever since the warm weather came back, and our kids have been enjoying lots of play time in the sandbox, on their climber and on our backyard swing set.

But the activities they’ve been most looking forward to involve the water toys that have been hiding out in our shed waiting for the snow to melt.

So if your children are like ours and can’t wait to spend the summer playing water games outdoors, here are some fun activities that you can start planning for right now! (If you’re looking for more inspiration, you can also check out these 100+ Summer Bucket List Ideas for Kids.)

1. Make a Water Balloon Piñata

Child laughing with giant water-filled balloons hanging on a piece of string.
Image Credit: Red Ted Art

Nothing says summer like bursting a balloon filled with water! This fun water balloon game is the perfect way to cool off on hot summer days!

Read the full tutorial: Water Balloon Piñata

2. Get Soaked with DIY Sponge Water Bombs

Child catching a DIY sponge bomb.
Image Credit: Crafts by Amanda

Need to cool off? All you’ll need to make these sponge bombs are a few clean sponges and some twine—and they make a great alternative to water balloons when you’re looking to get soaked!

Read the full tutorial: Sponge Water Bombs

3. Have a Water Gun Fight

Girl playing with a water gun.
Image Credit: © MNstudio via Canva.com

Water guns are a classic for a reason—what kid doesn’t love running around outside spraying everything with water in the summer heat? You can even use them to set up a DIY cup race if you’re looking for an added challenge!

4. Make Art with Water Guns

Kids painting with water guns containing coloured water.
Image Credit: Family Focus Blog

…And if you’re breaking out the water guns, why not use them to create some fun artwork outdoors? What a great use for a classic water toy!

Read the full tutorial: Water Gun Painting

5. Have a Spray Bottle Fight

Kids spraying each other with spray bottles.
Image Credit: © ex3malka via DepositPhotos.com

No water guns? No problem! Just grab some spray bottles and start spritzing—the mist feels so refreshing on a hot day!

6. Fill Your Water Table

Kids playing around a water table.
Image Credit: © Monkey Business Images via Canva.com

From pouring liquids to playing with toys to adding soap for some squeaky-clean fun, water tables offer so many different possibilities! You can’t go wrong getting one of these for your backyard!

(Fair warning—if your kids are anything like ours, you’ll want to stick with water tables that don’t double as sand tables. Combined sand/water tables sound great in theory, but in practice, they tend to turn into mud tables. When it comes to water tables, simpler is better!)

Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table | Kids Water Play…
  • OUTDOOR FUN: Water table for toddlers to splash, pour, and explore, interactive playtime experience designed with rain showers to spark imaginative play, can also be filled with sand
  • SPLASH TOYS: 13-piece toy set, duck and tropical fish squish toys, watch as the waterfall flows down the maze-like spinners, activating teeter-totter, teaching cause and effect STEM play

7. Play Some Sprinkler Water Games

Girl running in sprinkler and laughing.
Image Credit: © lisegagne via Canva.com

Need to water your lawn? As if sprinklers weren’t enough fun on their own, you can also use them to play fun water games with your little ones!

Read the full tutorial: Sprinkler Water Games

8. Build Your Own Sprinkler System

Kids playing with DIY sprinkler system.
Image Credit: From Engineer to SAHM

…And if your child is a little engineer in the making, why not enlist them in building their very own sprinkler system with this cool STEM activity?

Read the full tutorial: Sprinkler Experiment

9. Set Up a Pouring Station

Water pouring station with dollar store supplies.
Image Credit: Active Littles

I’m not sure what it is about pouring liquids that holds a universal appeal for children, but it can be quite handy when you’re running out of activity ideas and need something low-prep and low-mess! All you’ll need are a few dollar-store supplies to set up this simple activity that’s perfect for warm summer days!

Read the full tutorial: Water Pouring Activity

10. Play with Recyclables

Child pouring water with recycled juice carton.
Image Credit: The Salty Mamas

Before you send them to be repurposed, why not give your recyclables a new life by using them for this simple water pouring activity!

Read the full tutorial: Recycled Materials Water Play

11. Break Out the Splash Pad

Girl splashing in sprinklers.
Image Credit: © FatCamera via Canva.com

If you don’t have a pool in your backyard (and even if you do), a splash pad is the next best thing! Just connect it to your water hose and your kids will have a blast splashing around—it’s a favorite at our house!

Splash Pad for Kids 4-8 – 68 Inches – Sprinkler for Kids and Toddlers -…
  • Splash Pad for Dogs, Kids, Pets – We combined the best parts of a water fountain and splashing non stop water activity to make the most entertaining…

12. Transfer Some Ice Cubes

Kids transferring ice cubes with tongs.
Image Credit: Taming Little Monsters

It still counts as a water activity if the water is frozen, right? This super simple activity takes almost no effort to set up, but it’s a great way to keep little ones occupied on hot summer days!

Read the full tutorial: Fine Motor Ice Transfer

13. Do Some Poolside Science

Child in pool with toys.
Image Credit: Team Cartwright

Whether you have a pool in your backyard or you’re heading for a swim at the local community center, use it as an opportunity to do some STEM exploration with your kids!

Read the full tutorial: Poolside Science

14. Ice & Lemon Sensory Play

Sensory bin with water and lemon slices.
Image Credit: Messy Little Monster

This refreshing sensory bin filled with ice and lemon slices is a great way for little ones to cool off in the heat—and it’s also perfectly safe for toddlers who like to put everything in their mouths!

Read the full tutorial: Ice & Lemon Sensory Play

15. Make a Water Glass Xylophone

Rainbow lineup of glass jars containing coloured water.
Image Credit: A Dab of Glue Will Do

While you don’t technically have to wait until summer to conduct this musical experiment, the rainbow colors and water-filled jars seem perfectly suited for the warmer weather!

Read the full tutorial: Water Glass Xylophone

16. Paint with Water

Girl painting with water on black chalkboard.
Image Credit: Messy Little Monster

Why use paint when you can simply bring an easel outdoors and use water to create cool designs? This low-mess activity is perfect for kids who want to explore a new artistic medium, and as a bonus, you won’t need to find room to store their artwork after they’re done!

Read the full tutorial: Painting with Water

17. Draw with Wet Chalk

Drawings made with wet sidewalk chalk on sidewalk.
Image Credit: Kitchen Table Classroom

…And if you do happen to have a little artist at home, they’ll love seeing what happens to sidewalk chalk when it’s dipped in water before being used!

Read the full tutorial: Sidewalk Chalk Water Drawing

18. Make Nature Soup

Hands holding a bowl filled with water and flowers.
Image Credit: © Nimba Lab via Canva.com

I can’t be the only one who used to create “nature potions” using grass, twigs and flowers… right? Pick the flowers yourself to create a flower sensory bin for your toddler, or let your child make their own “flower soup” using whatever they can find outdoors!

19. Freeze Some Wet Sand

Frozen sand sensory bin with toys.
Image Credit: Taming Little Monsters

Do you have too much sand in your sandbox? This frozen sand sensory bin is so easy to set up, and it’s perfect for cooling off on a hot day!

Read the full tutorial: Frozen Sand Sensory Bin

20. Make a LEGO Sensory Bin

Bin filled with water, LEGO and kitchen utensils.
Image Credit: And Next Comes L

Grab the spare LEGO bricks that have been cluttering up your house and throw them into a bin with some water and kitchen utensils to create hours of fun for your little ones—so simple, but so entertaining!

Read the full tutorial: LEGO Sensory Bin

21. Make Water Walk

Cups filled with coloured water, joined by paper towels.
Image Credit: The Best Ideas for Kids

This walking water experiment is so cool, and you probably already have all the supplies you need lying around the house. Such a great activity for summer!

Read the full tutorial: Walking Water Experiment

22. Paint with Ice Cubes

Frozen coloured ice cubes with popsicle stick handles for painting.
Image Credit: Juggling Act Mama

These colorful ice cubes are another fun alternative to regular old paint! They only take a few minutes to prep (if you don’t count the resting time), and they’re a great excuse to take your child’s painting outdoors!

Read the full tutorial: Painting with Ice Cubes

23. Play with Water Balloons

Kids throwing water balloons.
Image Credit: © Imgorthand via Canva.com

Water balloon fights are a summer must, but there are actually lots of games you can play using water-filled balloons! From water balloon dodgeball to water balloon yo-yos, there are countless ways to transform the activities you love into water games!

Read the full article: Summer Water Balloon Games

24. Have a Water Cup Race

Kids running around outside with cups of water.
Image Credit: Mess for Less

Why not turn cooling down into a fun challenge that will help your child practice both their speed and balance? This one would make a great birthday party game for kids who celebrate their birthday in the summer!

Read the full tutorial: Cup & Water Race

25. Make Ice Cubes Fizz

Rainbow coloured fizzy ice cubes.
Image Credit: Lil’ Tigers

What child doesn’t love a good baking soda and vinegar reaction? This fizzy ice cube experiment is so easy to prepare, and it’s perfect for little scientists who want to explore the world around them in a hands-on way!

Read the full tutorial: Fizzy Ice Cubes

Related Summer Crafts

Looking for more fun things to do with your kids this summer? Check out these crafts:

You can also join my mailing list to receive fun craft and activity ideas right in your inbox! You’ll gain access to my free printables library as well as to fun bonuses that will never be available on my site!

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