With summer upon us, it’s time to start thinking about fun things to do outside. We unfortunately don’t have a pool in our complex so I have to find other ways to beat the heat. So today I’m sharing all sorts of fun outdoor water games that you can play to keep cool on a hot summer day without a pool.
Stock up on popsicles and invite your friends over for a fun filled afternoon of water wars, water balloon sports, and getting soaked with sponges. Make sure you also remember to drink lots of water because these games won’t keep you hydrated, they’ll just keep you cool. A number of these outdoor water games will get you soaked so I also recommend wearing swimming suits or having towels nearby.
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Outdoor Water Games
This is just what it sounds like. Get out of the hose, water guns, water balloons, cups, buckets, and anything else that you could use to hold water. Split into two teams and do whatever you can to soak each other.
Slip N Slide
Buy a long and wide piece of tarp from a nearby home improvement store. Tape it down to the grass on a hill. Get the tarp nice and wet and then put the hose at the top of the slide to keep it wet while the kids are playing. Kids can run and jump onto the tarp to slide down to the bottom of the hill.
Water Balloon Dodgeball
If you don’t want to play dodgeball, you can just fill up a bucket with water balloons and let kids throw them at each other until they’re gone. The water balloons typically go very fast that way. If you’re doing this, you need this cool water balloon filler!
In order to make the water balloons last longer, play water balloon dodgeball instead. Fill up a bucket with water balloons and put the bucket in the middle of a large area. Split the kids into two teams and explain that they are playing dodgeball with water balloons. If they get hit by a water balloon (not just the water from a balloon), they are out and have to sit on the sideline.
If they catch a water balloon thrown at them, the person who threw it is out and someone on the catching team can come back in. If they try to catch it and it pops, they are out. If they hit someone in the head or face, they are out. In order to make it more difficult and to have the water balloons last longer, tell them that they can only have one water balloon in their hand at any time. The last team with someone in the game is the winner.
In this game you will have two teams competing against each other to fill up a bucket with water the fastest.
You will need two buckets for each team. Fill one bucket with water and leave one bucket empty. Have kids sit down in a straight line with the first kid in the line right behind the full bucket of water and the last kid right in front of the empty bucket.
Give the first kid in each line a stack of empty cups and explain that they must dip the cup in the full bucket of water and pass it backwards over their head to the next kid. The second kid must then pass it over to the third and so on until the final kid on the team dumps the water in the cup over their head backwards into the empty bucket. They then pass the empty cup of water back up to the front. The team can use as many cups as they want at one time to move the water quicker. The first team to fill their bucket wins. If the buckets at the beginning of the lines become empty, refill with a hose.
Fill up bucket with sponges
This game is very similar to the cup relay where you will have two buckets per team, one that is filled with water and one that is not. Set the buckets about 100 yards apart from each other. You can do this relay a couple of different ways or have multiple rounds where each round is a different style of relay.
The first way is to have the first kid in the line dunk the sponge into the full bucket and then run to the other bucket while holding the wet sponge on his head. When he gets to the empty bucket, he squeezes out the water from the sponge into the empty bucket, then returns to this team where he hands the sponge to the next teammate. The second way is to have players stand in a line, spread out from each other, from one bucket to the other. The first person in line dunks the sponge then toss it to the second person in line. The second person in line tosses to the third and so on until it reaches the end of the line and empties the sponge into the empty bucket.
Water balloon toss
Have everyone pick a partner to play with. Tell all of the pairs to stand in two lines. The partners should be standing a few feet away from each other, facing one another. Give each partnership a water balloon and explain that if their water ballon breaks, they are out of the round. Tell everyone that each round you are going to say, 1, 2, 3, toss. When you say toss, they are to toss the water balloon to their partner. If the balloons breaks, they are out. If the balloon gets dropped but does not break, they can pick it up and continue.
After everyone has tossed, tell each of the partners to take a step back. Make sure that the steps are kind of even throughout the group. Have them toss the water balloons again, then take a step again, continuing until the last partnership is left standing with an intact balloon.
Water balloon volleyball
For this game, you will need a volleyball net setup, beach towels, and large balloons filled with water. Break your group into two teams with an even number of players and tell each team to break into pairs. Give each pair a beach towel.
Teams will be playing volleyball with a balloon filled with water rather than a volleyball. Teams can pass the balloon over the net or pass to other pairs on their team to get it over the net. If the balloon drops on the ground, the other team gets a point and the other team gets the balloon to start the next round. If the balloon breaks, just replace it with a new balloon and start playing again.
Sprinkler Red Light Green Light
This is just a typical game of red light green light with a sprinkler added. Have one person stand at the far side of the yard to be the caller and have the rest of the kids line up at the opposite side of the yard. Setup a sprinkler in the middle of the yard and turn it on.
The caller will turn their back to the other kid and say “green light.” When they say green light, the rest of the kids will try to move across the yard to reach the caller. When the caller turns around and says, “red light,” kids have to freeze where they are. If they don’t freeze, they will be sent back to the starting line. Having the sprinkler in the middle of the yard adds a fun element because they never know when the caller will turn around, and they might be right next to the sprinkler getting soaked throughout the red light.
Water balloon hot potato
Play a typical game of hot potato but replace the potato with a water balloon. If someone gets out, pop the water balloon above their head and then start the next round. The last person in the game wins.
Kiddie Pool Toe Diving
Setup a kiddie pool with all sorts of of fun little toys, rings, etc. Have a contest to see who can get the most things out of the kiddie pool using just their toes in an allotted amount of time. The winner gets to keep everything they were able to get out.
Water Bottle Toss
This game is played just like the sponge toss above except you will be using open water bottles. Teams must fill a water bottle with water either from a bucket or a hose and toss across a line of their teammates to fill up an empty bucket. Make sure that team members are standing far enough apart in this one that they’ll likely have to throw the water bottle a little harder so it spins and gets them wet.
Sprinkler Sharks and Minnows
Just like red light green light above, this is a typical kid’s game just with the added fun of using a sprinkler. Have kids line up on one side of the yard (the minnows) and have one kid (the shark) stand in the middle of the yard. Setup a sprinkle somewhere in the yard that will be the most likely to get people wet. When the shark says to swim across, all of the minnows must run across the yard to the other side before they are tagged by the shark. If they are tagged by the shark, they become a shark and try to tag minnows the next round. The sprinkler is also a shark so if they can get hit by the sprinkler, they become a shark as well. The last minnow standing wins and becomes the next shark.
Choose a Cup
Put a line of cups on a table. Fill about half of the cups full with water and leave the other ones empty. To play the game, have each kid choose a cup (without touching it) from the line of cups. You (or another non-participant) “dump” the cup of water on the kid’s head. If there is water in the cup, they get wet and are out. If there is not water, they continue to the next round. For the second round, fill a portion of the cups again and play over. The last dry kid standing wins.
Choose a couple of the games above and have a water Olympics where teams compete in a series of water games. Give the winners medals made with tin foil and poker chips.
Water Game Prize Ideas
You can make these games even more fun by giving out little prizes to the winners. Keep the prizes simple and make sure that everyone gets something whether it be a prize or a snow cone. Some simple prize ideas include
- little water guns
- rubber duckies
- pool toys
- small water bottles with fun labels
- sand castle buckets
- packs of Goldfish
- gummy sharks
- Swedish fish
What are your favorite outdoor water games?