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10 Water-Play Activities to Do With Your Kids
This Summer

Most of us have heard that anxiety and depression are on the rise among teenagers and young adults, but did you know they're also afflicting children? There's a plethora of complex societal reasons why this is the case: broken homes, bullying, social media, technology, violence on TV, video games, and in music. However, there are also two simple explanations: not enough play and not enough outside time. Fortunately, these are two areas where moms and dads have a lot of control and can easily make a huge difference, especially during the long and lazy days of summer.




When my siblings and I were growing up in the 1970's, playing outside with kids in our neighborhood was a daily occurrence, especially during the summer. We'd slide down a weedy hill on pieces of cardboard, play hide-and-go-seek with flashlights when it got dark, run through the sprinklers in our bathing suits, and move cans and boxes of food from our pantry to the backyard to set up a pretend grocery store. In a fun and organic way, we were doing what parents now pay big bucks for at summer enrichment camps: thinking creativity, solving problems, taking risks, communicating our ideas, and working cooperatively as a team. It cost our parents absolutely nothing but gave us a priceless education as well as wonderful memories to last a lifetime.

According to the Alliance for Childhood, youngsters today spend 50 percent less time doing unstructured outdoor activities than kids like me in the 1970's. Without the healthy benefits of sunlight, exercise, and social interaction, youngsters today are more susceptible to depression, anxiety, stress, and isolation. They need face-to-face contact with other children to increase their sense of well-being, not phony Facebook friends and superficial Instagram posts.

With this in mind, here are 10 super easy but super fun water-play activities to do with your kids this summer. Put the gadgets away, live in the moment, and return to a simpler time. Invite friends and neighbors over to have a blast, knowing all the while you're promoting a healthy lifestyle for these children. They may not thank you now, but they'll remember it well into the future.

1. Instead of an old-fashioned egg toss, do a sponge toss. Have kids line up facing a partner. Toss a wet sponge back and forth, taking a step backward after each throw. When the sponge is dropped, that pair is eliminated (this is best played on a very hot day with everybody in swimsuits or t-shirt and shorts).

2. Do the same as above but with water balloons.

3. Have a water fight with squirt bottles, squirt guns, water balloons, and hoses.

4. Make a water pinata. Fill a large plastic bag with water and hang it from a branch. Blindfold children one at a time and let them strike it with a stick or bat. 

5. Play "Duck-Duck-Goose" with a twist. Have everyone sit in a circle on the ground. Have one player touch each person on the head while saying "duck." However, in this version, the player touching heads also carries a cup of water. When he picks someone and says "goose," he pours the water on that player's head (this game is a lot of fun on a hot day but isn't for everyone. Some kids just like to sit on the sidelines and watch, which is just fine)!

6. Have water relays. Divide everyone up into two teams. The first two players run across the lawn carrying a paper cup full of water and dump it into a large bowl or small bucket. They then rush back and tap the next runner who now runs with a cup of water. The first team to fill their bowl/bucket wins!

7. Get a large bag of sand at your local gardening/landscaping store. Place it in a hard plastic kid pool. Let the kids pretend they're at the beach by adding water to build castles, make moats, and create bridges.




8. Construct an obstacle course with water features. Let the kids use items from around the house: chairs, ladders, hula hoops, a min-trampoline, ropes, tables, etc. Let them use squirt bottles, hoses, and sprinklers to add parts to the course where participants get wet.

9. Use spray bottles filled with water to squirt ping-pong balls across the lawn or driveway. Have races!

10. Give the kids lots of ice cubes and let them build sculptures using salt.


Every household with kids needs a fun sprinkler and this one fits the bill. It's sturdy and releases spray in a fun way that children love, creating hours of water play on hot summer days.


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