20 Fun Water Games to Play this Summer
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After being cooped-up all winter kids are always looking for fun and exciting games to play outdoors. And what do kids love most of all in the summer? Playing with water. You don’t need to head to a water park, have a pool or fancy equipment to have some family fun, and play the fun water games we’ve included here!
More: 7 Best Sprinklers For Kids for Summer Fun
Kids of all ages, and even adults, will enjoy getting in on the action with these wet ‘n wild games and outdoor activities. We have compiled a list of games an activities guaranteed to please preschoolers and older kids!
1. Slip ‘N Slide
What kid doesn’t love a slip ‘n slide? If you don’t have one, you can easily DIY. Grab a sturdy plastic table cloth or a plastic tarp and pin it to the ground with garden spikes. Add water, a little soap if you really want to fly. If it’s not an official Slip ‘n Slide, set up your yard sprinkler to keep the plastic covering wet. Take turns seeing who can slide the furthest. We recommend the JOYIN 20ft x 62in Slip and Slide from Amazon if you’re not the DIY type.
2. Water Balloon Toss
Water balloon games are the most classic of all summer games! Full up some water balloons and pair everyone off. If you don’t have an even number of players, then take turns facing the winner. Toss a water balloon back and forth, take one step backward for every toss for an added challenge. See how many tosses you can make it, or how far apart you can get before ultimately someone gets soaked! Water balloons can provide hours of fun for kids of all ages.
We recommend quick-fill balloons that attach to your hose like this set from Amazon.
3. Pass the Water
Divide kids into teams and have them sit in a line, facing forward. At the starting line have a bucket full of water and an empty plastic cup. The first player dunks their cup and passes it backward over their head to the next player. Continue to pass the cup backward overhead from person to person until you get to the final player.
The final player should have an empty bucket that they dump the contents of the cup into. Send the empty cup back to the front and start over again. The team that has the most water in the bucket at the end of the line by the end of the game wins! Set a timer so that players have to go quickly but carefully so that they don’t spill too much water!
4. Water Gun Tag
Get ready for a good old-fashioned water gunfight! If you don’t have water guns, grab a couple of inexpensive plastic spray bottles for a similar effect. Then, split into two teams and try to “tag” each other by spraying players’ t-shirts. The team with the driest shirts at the end wins!
For added fun consider purchasing these water guns and target vests from Amazon.
5. Drip, Drip, Drop
This is a fun take on Duck, Duck, Goose. Sit everyone down in a circle while one player stands with a large cup of water. They will dip their fingers into the water and place a drip on everybody’s head. When they decide who to “goose,” they dump the cup of water on their head! Chase each other around the circle just like in Duck, Duck, Goose, and start all over again. Anticipation will be high!
6. Water Relay
All you need for this game are four buckets and two extra-large sponges. First, split the players into two teams. Each team has one bucket full of water, one empty bucket, and one sponge. Place the buckets a few yards apart. The first player will dip their sponge into the bucket of water, race to the empty bucket, squeeze out their sponge, and race back to the original bucket. Once they make it back, the next player will start. The team with the most water in their previously empty bucket at the end wins!
7. Water Cup Race
Divide players into two even teams and stand side by side in a line. The person at the end of the line has a full cup of water; everyone else needs an empty plastic cup. Start the clock and then have the players carefully dump their cup of water into the empty cup of the player beside them. Continue down the line until the player at the end. Once you make it to the end of the line, the team with the most water in their last cup wins!
8. Liquid Limbo
This game is a wet 'n wild take on limbo. To play, take a hose and turn the water on full blast. Use the stream of water as the limbo stick. See who can limbo the lowest without getting wet. Once you feel a splash of water, you’re out until the next round!
9. Water Pinata
Fill some water balloons of varying sizes and hang them with string from a tree branch, clothesline, or swing set. Same as a pinata, blindfold your child, give them a stick or wiffle ball bat, and let them swing away. Once they strike the “pinata,” they’ll be in for a big surprise! Add this one to your list for easy summertime fun. A water pinata is also an excellent idea for a summer birthday party.
10. Water Obstacle Course
When it comes to backyard water games, an obstacle course is a great way to test agility. For example, you can get creative making an ultimate sprinkler with PVC pipe, a hose connector, and a drill to make holes. Other obstacle ideas are to pour water down a swing set slide, crawl under pool noodles while getting splashed with the sprinkler, hop through hula hoops, spray targets with a squirt gun, fly down a slip ‘n slide, or play a round of water balloon pinatas!
If you’re looking to go all out, consider this inflatable option from Amazon.
11. Sprinkler Twister
Roll out your plastic Twister mat (or purchase one on Amazon), add a sprinkler, and get ready to slip and slide! Play the same way you would the regular game, but the added challenge of a wet surface will be sure to spice up your summer activities.
12. Backyard Bath
If you have a kiddie pool, fill it with a bubble bath and a few bath toys. Not only will your kiddos enjoy some outdoor water play, but it will save you bathtime later! Bubbles can turn a boring swimming pool into super fun activities for little ones without much effort or necessary supplies.
13. Water Slide
If you have a swing set in the backyard or even just a plastic Little Tykes, slide like this one, add a little water, and it becomes a whole lot more fun. Then, put the slide into a kiddie pool for an epic splash landing! Water activities don’t have to be extravagant on a hot summer day to be fun and exciting. Take turns seeing who slides the fastest or makes the biggest splash.
You can take classic outdoor games, like volleyball, and turn them into easy pool games, fun for the whole family. If you have a pool, you can purchase inflatable nets from Amazon for a rousing game of pool volleyball.
If you don’t have a pool, set up the sprinkler and use the spray as the “net.” Hit the ball back and forth through the water. If you have younger kids who want to play, turn it into a kickball game through the sprinkler instead. Kicking a ball is usually easier than learning how to bump or set a volleyball.
15. Water Bottle Flip
Try a water bottle flip challenge to engage in some competitive summer games without getting soaked; try a water bottle flip challenge. Every player needs a partially filled water bottle to flip into the air and attempt to land right side up. The bottle must flip at least one full rotation. Set a timer and see how many flips each player can successfully land to be crowned the winner!
16. Magnetic Fishing
If you have a little one consider entertaining them with a magnetic fishing game. Fill a kiddie pool with a few inches of water and use a fishing set like this one on Amazon. You could even move this activity indoors by placing a shower curtain or plastic table cloth under the kiddie pool.
17. Splash Out Game
Like hot potato, the Splash Out Game is fast-paced, and the one caught with the ball will get a soaking wet surprise! This game is designed for children eight years old and up, and there are trivia questions that need to be answered before passing the ball.
18. Giant Bubble Wands
There are few things kids love more than bubbles, so engage them in some summer fun by playing with giant bubbles. All you will need are bubble wands, a bucket, and giant bubble mix!
19. Inflatable Sprinkler
Inflatable sprinklers are another excellent way to engage kids of all ages in outdoor water fun. Amazon sells a variety of different sizes, types at a wide range of price points, so there is something for everyone! But, of course, even a good old-fashioned sprinkler set up outside will entertain kids looking to cool off in the summer heat!
20. Water Balloon Fight
Water balloon fights offer a good old-fashioned way for kids to run around, have fun, and cool off. Not all kids will enjoy the sensation of being hit by a water balloon so consider having a water balloon relay race, throwing water balloons at targets, or tossing them into buckets; the bucket with the most unbroken balloons wins!
Are you looking for more water fun? Then, check out our list of the Best Water Toys for Kids This Summer.
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About L. Elizabeth Forry
L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with 15 years of classroom experience.