Top 10 Water-based Activities for Children to Beat the Summer Heat



This is a guest post by Janine Mergler from Families Magazine, the clever resource for thinking parents!

Water play is an ideal sensory experience for kids during the scorching summer season.

You’ve probably heard that saying ‘If they are crabby, put them in water!’ Well, you don’t even have to wait until they are crabby … children adore playing with water. It's not only an enjoyable way to stay cool in the heat but also an excellent sensory activity that stimulates and nurtures young minds and senses. Forget about pricey plastic water play tables; instead, explore our top 10 water activities for children this summer. *Prior to water play, please check your local council’s water regulations!


Sprinkler Fun on the Lawn

You simply can't overlook this timeless water activity for children! A basic sprinkler head can be found for about $6 at your nearby hardware store. While fancier models may be gentler on your lawn, they lack the pure joy that comes from children running through a simple sprinkler. Let them dash about, laugh, and then reward them with juicy watermelon, washing away the sticky pink mess under the sprinkler's refreshing spray. Move the sprinkler around the yard and garden, and as they play, everything gets a good watering.

Colourful Water Bottles

Collect empty plastic bottles from drinks, remove the labels, and gather bottles of various sizes. Fill them in your preferred outdoor play area, preferably on a lawn, where any spills will simply water the grass. Add a drop or two of food colouring to each bottle filled with water.

Experiment together to create various colours. Observe the colours swirling through the water, then give the bottles a quick shake. Provide your kids with plastic bowls to pour the water into and let them pour and blend their coloured waters. This activity introduces children to the primary and secondary colours, allowing them to experiment and play with colour mixing without creating a substantial mess.

Apple Bobbing

On a scorching summer day, apple bobbing is the perfect, fun water activity for kids. Fill a plastic tub with water and float some apples on the surface. Older children must keep their hands behind their backs and attempt to grab an apple using only their mouth. Younger kids can grasp the tub's sides. This game is perfect for summer birthday parties, where each child can have their own apple bobbing tub. Be ready to capture the hilarity with your camera.


Water Sensory Tubs

Take a tub or an old baby bath, fill it with water, and add various items such as cups, jugs, stirrers, colanders, and soup ladles to create a sensory tub. You can easily find everything you need around the house as long as you have the plastic tub for water. Get creative and let your imagination run wild – this makes it an excellent sensory activity for parents too!

As long as it's unbreakable, non-toxic, and water-safe, it's fair game for the water sensory tub. Cloths, spray bottles, Styrofoam balls, paintbrushes, and Panadol syringes all make excellent additions to your children's water sensory tub. Adding ice cubes or a few drops of food colouring can enhance the sensory experience.


Pouring Practice to Develop Motor Skills

Pouring practice is akin to an introductory level of water sensory tubs. Once your child can sit unsupported safely and confidently, find a shady outdoor spot, and provide them with a clear plastic jug filled with water and several plastic cups. Keep a hose or a large bucket of water nearby for quick refills. This water activity can keep most children content for an extended period, allowing you some relaxation time while they play. It helps build strength, hand-eye coordination, and motor skills.

Ice Play

Ice play can serve as an independent water activity or enhance the sensory experience of other water activities. Freeze coloured or glitter water to boost the sensory benefits. You can also add chopped vegetables, small favourite toys, and flowers. Your only limit is the available space in your freezer.

Include them in other water activities that your kids love or place them on trays, on the lawn, pavement, or sandpit to inspire creative play. Outdoors, you can pour jugs or watering cans of water over the ice to speed up the melting process, add excitement, and offer a cooling effect.


Duck Race

Fill a large oval or rectangular plastic tub with water, place plastic duckies on the surface, and give your kids spray guns. Demonstrate how to move the duckies across the water's surface by aiming the spray gun's jet nozzle at them. If there are two or more children participating in this water activity, they can have duck races from one end of the tub to the other.

Imaginary Soup

Fill your plastic tub with water, whether on an outdoor table or in a shady spot on the ground. Provide your child with "ingredients" to add to their soup and a large wooden spoon to stir their concoction. Once the soup is ready, they can use a soup ladle to transfer it into plastic bowls. This water activity helps children develop fine motor skills and coordination. Soup ingredients can range from garden leaves and flowers to plastic bath toys, ping pong balls – anything that floats can be added to the soup.

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Spray Chalk

Utilize one of the readily available online recipes to prepare spray chalk by mixing tempera paint with water and cornstarch to thicken it, then placing it in a clear plastic spray bottle. Children adore using spray chalk on sidewalks, driveways, fences, and walls. Spray chalk is less messy than regular chalk, and a bucket of water or a quick hose spray can remove all traces, unlike standard sidewalk chalk. Children can experiment with mixing colours, creating shapes, or simply enjoying the mesmerizing colour patterns running down the wall.


Car Wash

Similar to the sprinkler on the lawn, this is one of those classic water activities for children that never seems to go out of style. Give them a big sponge, a bucket of water, and a hose, and let them play with water while cleaning the car for you. They might not do as thorough a job as a professional car detailer, but at the very least, it keeps them engaged, and cools them down.

Water Play Adventures for Children

All you need is a plastic tub for water and a space where getting wet is not an issue, and you're all set for an entertaining and educational summer filled with delightful water activities for children.

You can find lots more helpful information for parents including fun things to do at home with kids on Families Magazine website here.

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