Outdoor Water Play Ideas for Kids

Kids playing in backyard with KidKraft playhouse in background

Have a grumpy kiddo on your hands? Just add water. Seriously, water play = instant happiness for kids. Plus, outdoor water play is a sensory-rich activity that comes with Vitamin D and hands-on learning. And no, you don’t have to go through the trouble of blowing up the kiddie pool every time your little one wants to splash around outside. Here are 5 simple kids’ water play activities to try out this summer!

Nature Soup

Gather up some cool natural finds from around the yard or a favorite park and you’ve got (almost) everything you need for Nature Soup! Rocks, twigs, leaves, flowers, moss, and plain old dirt are all fair game. From there, you’ll just fill a mixing bowl, water table, or other containers with water and let the kids add and mix to their hearts’ content. Though it may seem super simple to us, your littles are getting a variety of sensory experiences and rich vocabulary about the natural world.

Pouring Station

Grab some measuring cups, pitchers, anything else your little one can use to pour and head outside. Pouring is great for developing fine motor skills and toddlers can’t get enough of it. We love Busy Toddler’s idea of adding food coloring to some of the containers to make it even more fun!

Colored Water

Speaking of colors, set out several clear containers of water and let your littles help add some natural food coloring to each one. They’ll love squeezing in the drops and mixing the colors. Add some fun tools like basters, spoons, scoops, etc. to let them transfer water from one container to another to mix the colors.

Water Shaker Bottles

All you’ll need for this one is some old water bottles or spice jars, a few fun fillings, and of course, water! You’ve probably made shaker bottles for the sound effects before – these water-filled versions won’t be quite as musical, but your little one will love watching how the different materials float, swirl, and sink in the water. Plus, they’ll love adding all the fun things to the bottles. Fill a bottle about ½ to ¾ of the way full with water and then add in simple materials like dry rice, beans, glitter, etc. Some oil and food coloring make for a fun lava lamp effect! (If you have some older kiddos too, have them experiment by adding different amounts of salt to each bottle to see how it affects the buoyancy of the fill objects.)

Pom Pom Squish & Squeeze

You’ve probably seen those little craft pom poms used in tons of toddler activities. They’re great for sorting, gluing, pouring, and scooping...and they’re great for water play too! After the pom poms have soaked up some water, your little one can squeeze them out into various containers or just have fun squishing, shaking, and throwing!

Splash away and have fun!