The Key

7 Outdoor Water Games for Kids

When things heat up outside, keep your kids cool with these seven water game ideas. They'll splash away the summer, getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine while you snap great shots and relax.

1. DIY Slip & Slide

Let kids splash, slide and play all day with a DIY slip-and-slide.

What you need:

  • A heavy-duty plastic drop cloth or smooth tarp
  • Enough U-shaped garden stakes to place at three-foot intervals along the length of the cloth
  • A hose
  • A hill (optional)

What to do:

Stretch out the plastic drop cloth or tarp over a flat, grassy surface or a small hill. Spray the entire length of the plastic with the hose, then keep the hose pointed at the head of the tarp. Kids can get a running start to get more distance - just make sure you re-spray the plastic after every couple of turns.

2. Duck-Duck-Splash

Duck-Duck-Goose is so last summer. This year, put a fresh twist on an old game to keep kids happy and cool.

What you need:

  • Kids

What to do:

Have kids sit in a circle, just like the classic fowl-based game, and give the child who's "it" a water balloon or plastic cup of water. Have the child holding the water walk around the outside of the circle, tapping all the ducks on their heads and dropping the water on the goose. The child who's been drenched chases the other around the circle, and if the water-dropper gets back to his or her spot without being caught, the goose becomes "it" next.

3. Water Relay

A little friendly competition plus a lot of splashing, sloshing water equals big fun with this team-based relay race.

What you need:

  • Two empty one-gallon water jugs
  • Two buckets filled with water
  • Two waterproof chairs
  • Two plastic cups

What to do:

Make two lines and divide the kids into two teams. At the starting line, place two filled water buckets. Place the chairs about 20 feet away from the starting line - give or take a few feet, depending on the kids' ages - facing out.

Have one child sit in each chair and place the empty gallon jug on his or her head and give the first relay racers a cup. Their mission: to fill the cup, run to the jug, pour in the water and take the original child's place on the chair. The child who was in the chair returns the cup to the next child in line and the game continues until one team's jug overflows.

4. Ice Cube Painting

Kids love painting and they love it even more when they're doing it with ice cubes on a hot summer day.

What you need:

  • An ice cube tray
  • Small plastic bowls
  • Wooden craft sticks
  • Fruit juice powder or food coloring
  • Poster board or butcher block paper

What to do:

Mix food coloring with water and test the color intensity by brushing a few strokes on plain, white paper. Spoon different colors into the ice cube tray and put it in the freezer. In 30 to 45 minutes, place a craft stick into the center of each cube. Continue freezing.

When the cubes are completely frozen, take the tray from the freezer and let it stand at room temperature for 3 to 4 minutes. Twist the tray to loosen the cubes and let each child grab a stick and start painting on poster board or butcher block paper.

5. Water Balloon Piñatas

Water balloon piñatas are simple to make and incredibly fun for kids.

What you need:

  • Standard latex water balloons
  • Several feet of rope
  • A stick
  • A good place to tie the rope, such as between two trees

What to do:

Tie the rope between two sturdy trees and make it tight - water is heavy and you don't want your oversized water balloons dragging it down.

Fill balloons with water and tie them at varying intervals down the rope. Then, blindfold the first kid and hand off the stick. Keep plenty of balloons on-hand for refills!

6. Water Balloon Towel Toss

Kids can work together to snag water balloons out of the air or get all wet. Either way, it's a win-win for everybody.

What you need:

  • Water balloons
  • Beach towels

What to do:

Divide kids into groups of two and give each pair a beach towel. The object of the game is to catch and throw water balloons between teams using only the towel. The team that throws a balloon that breaks on the other end gains a point. Place a water balloon in the center of one team's towel, which they'll then have to swing back-and-forth until they've built enough momentum to fling the balloon forward. Keep playing until one team reaches a certain score (or longer, if the kids are really into it).

If the game's too easy, have each team take a step away from the other every time someone catches a balloon.

7. Clamming for Marbles

What kid doesn't want to dig through squishy, mucky sand to find hidden treasures?

What you need:

  • A wading pool
  • Marbles
  • A bucket or two of sand
  • Water

What to do:

Fill the wading pool with water and sand and bury a couple dozen marbles in it. Have kids stand in the pool and feel around for marbles using only their feet. When a child finds a marble, he or she has to pull it from the sand and place it into a bucket outside the wading pool. No hands!

Every kid needs some special, summer-only fun in the backyard on hot days. Playing these seven great outdoor water games for kids can help your children build memories that will last a lifetime.

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