Motivate kids to move on a lazy, warm day with these easy, inexpensive water play ideas—even simpler than a trip to the pool (but don't forget the sunscreen)!
1. Hose Hi-JinksGet out your garden hose and ask kids to help water plants around the yard. Then liven things up with water play like a game of limbo or high-jump (create a bar with a stream of water, the try to go under or over it). Suggest target practice on the driveway, a fence, or a tree (use chalk to create a goal); or a good old-fashioned water fight (with dueling hoses, squirters, buckets, or water balloons).
2. Car WashBring out the buckets and soapy water and give your vehicles a good scrub. Kids can help suds the car and rinse it clean. Give bikes, kiddie ride-ons and outdoor toys a wash too. When you're done, use the sponge for a rousing game of sponge tag!
3. Fountain of Youth
Do you have a splash pad in your community? Some towns and parks have water features designed to allow for interactive play. Irresistible!
4. Wet "Paint" PlayEquip kids with a few buckets of water and some large paintbrushes or rollers and let them "paint" your fence, porch, play set, driveway, sidewalk, or garage.
5. Up a CreekVisit a babbling brook for a cooling nature walk. Bring along your own toy boats, or create some out of scavenged natural materials. "One day I enticed my daughter and her friend to go to the creek by suggesting that we take Barbie for a swim," writes Rick Van Noy, the author of A Natural Sense of Wonder. "The doll shot the rapids several times. Much screaming ensued, but brother Sam was ready with the net to rescue helpless Barbie from the maelstrom."
6. Dribble, Dribble, DrenchTry this cooling-off version of Duck, Duck, Goose. Have players (kids and grown-ups!) sit in a circle. The first person to be "it" walks around the circle with a cup, pitcher, or watering can, dribbling a few drops on each person's head—until he chooses a victim to be drenched with all the water from his container. Then the wet player chases It around the circle while It tries to claim his victim's empty spot in the circle.
7. Outdoor BathFill up a kiddie pool with water, then add bath toys and an assortment of lightweight containers: pitchers, cups, sieves, funnels—even short lengths of PVC pipe. Let kids' imaginations rule as they come up with new ways to play (and get wet).
8. Ice CastlesThis one requires some advance prep, but it's worth it. Freeze water in milk cartons and plastic containers to create large blocks of ice—you can even add a drop of food coloring to each if you like. Take them outside and have kids build with them (a little salt helps the blocks stick together). Take a picture of the creations before they melt!