Water Activities for Kids: surviving summer without a pool

Girl getting sprayed with water on a slip and slide with graphic water activities for kids

I live in the part of the country where summer is hot and humid. That means it’s miserable to be outside unless water is involved. So water activities for the kids are a must! If you are like us and don’t have the luxury of a nice pool, you need some ways to manage summer without a pool.

We know that kids need to be outside. Spending the summer in the house just isn’t a good option. Even as an adult, I’ve found that mentally I do so much better getting outside on a run in the morning. The same goes for our kids. Being outside does wonders for attitudes, creativity, adventure, and even wearing them out so they’ll go to be early. šŸ˜‰

Many of these water games are ones that I used for our annual kids’ ministry water party at church! The activities with sponges and water balloons were always a hit.

Water Activities for Kids

At Home Water Activities for Kids:

DIY Sponge BombsĀ 

These are so easy! Older kids will enjoy making them and for younger kids it’s still a project you can finish for them in no time. Let the kids play with them or else you can use for a wet game of catch or use like a water balloon fight.

Slip and Slide

My kids love slip and slides (just be careful no one breaks an arm)! You can buy oneĀ Ā or make your own. A giant homemade one will be a huge hit with your entire neighborhood.

Mini Splash Pad

We got one of these to use in our yard last year. The kids have really enjoyed it. Don’t buy anything smaller than 68 inches. The bigger the better!

Water Balloon Fight

Isn’t this a classic? You have to decide between saving money and filling up one balloon at a time or splurging and buying the Bunch O Balloons that fills up multiplesĀ andĀ self seals.

Water Balloon Spoon Race

This is the same as the spoon egg race, only you use balloons instead. Divide your kids up into 2 teams and see who can transfer their bucket of balloons to the bucket at the finish line the quickest.

Water Balloon Toss

Once again, this is like the traditional egg toss. Pair up and see who can go the longest without dropping and breaking theirs.

Sponge Toss

Have your kids get in pairs, one at the start and the other at the finish. Have a bucket filled with water at the start line and an empty bucket at the finish line for each pair. Set the time for 1 minute.Ā  The child at the start will put the sponge into the water and toss it to their partner who will squeeze the water into the empty bucket and toss the sponge back. Keep going until the time is up and see which team has the most water in the bucket at the finish line.

For these two sponge games, I recommend large sponges similar to these car wash sponges!

Sponge on Head Race

Divide into two teams. Each team will need a bucket of water and one sponge at the start and another at the finish. Each team lines up behind their start bucket. Start the time and the first person in each line will place the sponge in the water and balance it on their head and go as fast as they can, without dropping the sponge, to the finish line bucket. After squeezing the water out, they will run the sponge back to the second person. Keep going until time is up. The bucket with the most water wins.

Match Box Car Water Gun Race

Each kid needs a matchbox car and a water gun. Draw a start and finish line on the sidewalk or driveway. The kids race their cars by propelling them forward with the water gun.

Rubber Duck or Plastic Boat Race

Decide where you will race depending on number of kids. Maybe a plastic tub, a kiddie pool, or even individual sections of gutter. The kids will propel their duck using a spray bottle or water gun.

Sponge Boat Race

Help your kids make their own sponge boatĀ and decorate the flag. Have a race the same as above.

Water Shooters

We’ve had some form of these every summer and the kids always like them. Have buckets of water or a kiddie pool to use for filling them.

Jump Rope Holding a Cup of Water

This works exactly like it sounds. You have two people spinning the jump rope and the one in the middle is jumping with a Solo cup filled with water. Rotate through all of the kids. The cup with the most water left is the winner.

Duck Duck Splash

The same as Duck Duck Goose, only instead of saying “goose” the person will dump a cup of water on someone’s head (or you squeeze one of the big sponges out on their head).

Wash the Car

Your car gets washed and the kids get to be wet – a win win situation. šŸ˜‰

Water Beads

Make water beads in a big plastic container (or even put them in the kiddie pool). Give the kids scoops, bowls, spoons etc and let them play.

Painting with Water

Great option if you have a fence. You could do this on the driveway or sidewalk as well. Have buckets of water and paintbrushes of various sizes and let the kids “paint” away.

Tub of Water

Sometimes the simplest things are the best. Even more so for young kids. A tub of water and some scoops, cups, and bowls from your kitchen might be all they need.


Sprinklers are another one that my kids love. I love how simple it is (and the yard gets watered at the same time). There are a lot of fun options, but most years we just use a standard lawn sprinkler.

DIY Sprinkler

Here are 10 fun ideas of sprinklers you can make for your kiddos.

Hose Over Swing Set

If you have a swingset or slide, my kids love draping the hose over the top and playing in the water.

Water Blob

SO MUCH FUN! This would be such a hit. Check out this tutorial.

Water Table

Another fun idea for littles. I’m all about buying used, so watch your Facebook groups and garage sales to buy one from a child that has outgrown theirs.

Water Freeze Tag

Traditional freeze tag except you have to spray someone with a water gun (orĀ spray bottle – try both and see which you prefer) instead of touching them.

DIY Water Wall

This post has 10 great ideas to check out!

Water Activities for Kids Away From the House


Take a trip to the local beach and load up snacks and sand toys and enjoy the water.


Go exploring and splashing in a river or creek. See how many creatures you can find.

Splash Pad

This has been a favorite for years. My kids just discovered they love to bring balls of various sizes and toss them and try to float them on top of the spraying water.

Hopefully these ideas give you some fun inspiration for summer fun! They would also be fun things to add to your summer bucket list. What are you favorite water activities for kids that help you survive the summer without having a pool?

If you liked this post of water activities for kids, check out this list of outdoor activities, family night ideas, and more summer fun ideas for the kids!

child holding water balloon spraying water graphic overlay saying fun water activities for kids

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