With summer approaching, every parent starts thinking about how to best protect their kids from harm when playing outside. While ensuring safety, they also have to keep their little ones entertained all day.
One of the best solutions to beat the heat is to include water during playtime. Given their fondness to splash around and mess, engaging kids in outdoor water activities is a perfect solution to summer-time boredom!
Water play is both enjoyable and educational as it provides mental stimulation, physical activity, and hands-on experiential play to encourage their curious and creative minds. This article will tell you all of the best toddler-approved water activities that are easy to set up and fun!
How do toddlers play with water?
Toddlers are drawn to water play because it is a fun sensory activity. They love to splash around, use tools to pour water, add different items & feed their curious minds with experiments, imagination, and adventure.
To make this a fun learning experience, we can provide them with the appropriate tools to stimulate their overall development.
- Adding natural bath bombs to the kiddie pool will enhance their olfactory senses
- Keeping water at different temperatures will help develop their reflexes
- Filling small sand buckets of water with a variety of things like sand and mud can help them learn the different textures
Explore with us the most exciting outdoor water activities for toddlers. Of course, always supervise your child when playing.
15 Super Fun Outdoor Water Activities for Toddlers
Pool Noodle Water Wall
Our colleagues’ toddlers adored this activity and wanted to play it every day. First, get a pegboard and fix it on the wall. Then, attach different colored pool noodles to the pegboard using zip ties or regular threads and ropes. Feel free to be creative while forming pool noodle patterns.
Your kids will love to see how the water they pour in the top gushes out of the ends of the pool noodle. This activity can be played with friends too! One child can pour the water while another tries to hold the bottom of the noodle and see how long they can stop the water.
Build You Own Sprinkler
Building a child-safe sprinkler is a great way to add some fun to your little one’s day! Make a few holes in a sturdy plastic bottle and connect it to the open end of your garden hose. Seal the gap tightly using duct tape or Tyvek tape. Keep the “sprinkler” in the center of your lawn and turn on the water tap. The kids will love running around and playing in the water, and you can consider your grass watered too!
If your tiny tot loves painting, here’s a perfect outdoor activity to try out together! Give your tot a plastic glass filled with water – add food colors – and hand them a brush. Find a nice stretch of a wall or sidewalk and let your kid’s imagination run free! The best part is that they can draw in the same place once the drawing vanishes, so they have an infinite canvas. The best part is food coloring is completely safe! So you need not worry about kids ingesting anything toxic. There is an added bonus- it’s easy to wash out of clothes!
Water Balloon Pinata
A water balloon pinata outdoors on a summer afternoon is a fun and exciting activity for your toddler. Fill a few balloons with water, then attach a clothesline or a rope between two trees or poles and suspend the balloons. Gear up your kid with a blunt pencil or a blunt-ended kitchen skewer, and let them pop these balloons for a water rush! As an added challenge, tie a cloth around your kid’s eyes and ask them to find their way to the balloons. Always be around to supervise the kids to keep any injuries at bay!
Springtime in Australia can be pretty balmy, so an ideal outdoor activity for toddlers is spending the day in a kiddie pool. Spring is when the plants are ordained with colorful flowers, so the perfect time to make “flower soup”!
Spread out a wading pool amidst these flowers, and give your little ones a spoon, strainer, and dishes. Let the kids collect the flowers and make a “soup” using the utensils. Just make sure the flowers are not attached to the plants and any thorns or sharp leaves are picked clean before leaving the flowers out.
Water Gun Target Activity
Water guns are great garden toys for your little ones to play with! All you will need are water guns, a bucket of water, and a “target” - we used a line of empty soda cans, but you can also use plastic cups. Line up the cans on a table and arm your little hooligan with the water guns. Make them stand a few meters away and squirt at the soda cans, knocking down as many. The one with the highest number of knocks gets to squirt the water gun on the other kids!
DIY Water Slide
Water slides are one of our favorite childhood memories! To recreate the same experience for your tot, you can create a makeshift water slide in your yard. You will need a sloped yard, tarp, garden hose, a sprinkler, and a bottle of tear-free shampoo. Spread the tarp over the slope, switch on the sprinkler, hang the garden hose over a height, and choose the spray setting. Drizzle the shampoo over the tarp to make it slippery and let the kids spend the whole morning or afternoon, slipping and sliding away.
Muddy Water Play
Kids learn best when given the freedom to let their imagination run wild. Of course, it's kiddie heaven for them when you add mess to the mix. Sensory games like outdoor water activities for toddlers stimulate creativity, movements, observation skills, and even teamwork if played with other toddlers. Just fill a cooler or a similar tub with mud and mix water to make it pourable. Give tools like plastic bottles, scoops, funnels, etc., and watch your kid invent new ways to play with the muddy water.
Float or Sink
Lead your little cherubs into having their own “Eureka!” moment with this fun water activity. This physics experiment for preschoolers doesn’t require much time or money to prep. Give them a tub or even a wide-rimmed bucket filled three-quarters way with water and allow them to grab waterproof toys or harmless objects they can lay their little hands on.
The tots can drop one toy after another and even observe which one floats or sinks. This game is perfect for sparking a competitive spirit and observation skills, asking them to guess the result before dropping the object in, and then watching what happens together!
Color Mix Play
Babies and toddlers love playing with water and colors. This color mix play will add joy to your little one’s day; give them squirt bottles filled with water and add some food coloring. Place some transparent cups, ice cube trays, syringes, droppers, and scoops in front of them. Let them pour the colored water into the cups and ice cube trays. Mix one color into the different tools to stimulate their hand-eye coordination while giving them a chance to learn the magic of colors!
Ice Age Bin
Ice is the perfect cooldown activity for your toddler on a hot summer’s day! Set up a mini ice treasure hunt for toddlers' ultimate outdoor water activity. Fill a small bucket with water and throw in small toys and child-safe objects. Freeze the bucket and take the ice out onto a larger tub. Gear up your treasure hunters with water, cups, colored water, and syringes to melt the ice. The kids are sure to remain cool as they retrieve the treasure from the block of ice.
Makeshift Juice Bar
Small kids are sure to have seen adults walk around with on-the-go coffee cups and have imagined themselves holding one. Set up a makeshift juice bar in your yard for the tiny tots with lightweight or plastic coffee cups, empty milk cartons, dish soap, frother, sand, and lots of water. Fill in the carton with water, mix dish soap and water in the frother (don’t forget to show your mini baristas how to operate it), and add the sand to a “sugar bowl.” Your tiny baristas will immediately set about serving their coffees to anyone who would want them.
Pom Pom Squeeze
This water activity for toddlers is perfect if you are looking to create something quick to keep your kids occupied for a while. You will need a large container with water, pom poms of varied sizes, and smaller empty containers or jars. The teeny water scientists will have fun dipping the pom poms in water and squeezing it out into the smaller containers, and jumping in glee once they fill it to the brim.
Another fun outdoor water game for your kids is “water transfer.” Set up a pouring station using a storage container and give your kids a variety of jars, cups, and scoops to transfer the water from object to object. They are sure to be occupied for a long time while gaining the required experience they will need to pour their orange juice into a glass someday. You can also opt to add a few drops of food coloring to add a sensory element.
Color Sorter Water Bin
If you are someone who loves to add some creativity to your child’s playtime activities, this one is for you! Use a sharpie and get hold of 40-50 ping pong balls, different colored or just plain white-and draw-colored markings. Set out a kiddie pool with a shallow bit of water and empty containers across the yard, each with markings or colors identical to the ones on the balls. Equip your child with a sand scoop and see if they can scoop the balls into the correct containers, or will they have fun splashing in the water with the balls. Either way, the kids and the adults (watching them) will have some serious laughs!
Sensory bins provide an extensive opportunity for your pre-schoolers to explore and learn through hands-on play while engaging their senses. They also help develop fine motor skills, cognitive functioning, creativity, and communication skills.
Here are some interesting ideas to prepare water play sensory bins:
A sandpit with wet sand, beach toys, sprinklers, or a hanging garden hose set to spray function is all you need to make a backyard beach. You may even add a beach umbrella and pool chairs for ‘authenticity.’ If you want to top it up a notch, dress your toddlers in some floral, colorful beachwear!
A clothesline placed at shoulder height of your toddlers, a tub with soapy water (make sure it is mild detergent or just plain dish soap), one with clean water and access to running water, some hand towels, and clothespins – your kiddie laundry day is in progress! Help them learn about the soap texture and get them ready to help you run errands in the future!
Just like pretend laundry, set up a pretend dishwashing station! A tub of water, toy dishes, some mild dish soap, and small sponges are all you will need to enhance their sensory and motor skills!
Backyard River Bank
This is an excellent water sensory bin if you have a flowing water décor in your yard. Inspire the kids to play with mini pooh sticks, measure the river’s depth using string and stone, even set up a small scavenger hunt or picnic table by the ‘river bank.’
DIY Car Wash
Toy cars, soap, water – minimal playthings, maximum fun. Arrange for toy cars of different sizes and let the kids have a go!
What are some outdoor activities for toddlers?
- Playing outside is beneficial to toddlers in many ways. They are closer to nature, building stronger immunity and getting a more immersive experience in learning and playing.
- Simple activities like creating sensory bins, outdoor storytime, water activities, riding tricycles, and outdoor arts and crafts are all excellent outdoor activities for kids.
What are the benefits of water play activities for toddlers?
- They help develop hand-eye coordination, especially those involving pouring water or scooping things out.
- They enhance concentration and focus. For example, when playing with ice or retrieving anything from the water they are deeply concentrating on the objects.
- Water play also improves motor skills and sensory exploration while playing with multiple materials along with water like soap, sand, mud, and ice.
How do you make water fun for toddlers?
- Water has this magnetic pull towards most kids, so it is inherently fun for them.
- You can make the experience better by engaging them in simple but meaningful water games.
- Activities that involve pouring, water transfer, soapy water, ice, water balloons, wet sponges, even splashing around in the kiddie pool with friends are fun and help develop their senses and motor skills.