I’ve never met a kid who doesn’t love water play. Even the smallest bin or bucket of water will keep my preschoolers and toddlers happy for hours. They splash, they paddle, the stir, and pour. In the warm weather, we have some sort of water activity set up here in the backyard almost every day. It’s the first thing the hooligans gather around when they arrive, and they often spend the better part of the morning playing with whatever wet and wonderful activity I’ve set up.
Today, I’m sharing 25 of my very favourite activities that you can set up for your kids in the backyard. If you’re looking for a guaranteed way to keep the your troops entertained warm day, you’ll find all kinds of simple ideas for water bins, water tables, small worlds and water-sensory play in this collection.
All of these water activities are easy to set up using things you already have around the house. Each one has been tried and tested here, and has received a huge stamp of approval from the hooligans! Simple, fun and inexpensive, they’re guaranteed to keep your kids learning, laughing and staying cool in the backyard this summer!
25 fun and easy water play ideas for the backyard:
Each description contains a clickable link which will take you to full post for the activity. Once there, you can simply press your “back” button to return to this post.
Ice Age Bin – Melting ice with salt and water is one of our favourite preschool science activities. You can keep your kids busy for ages excavating frozen treasures out of a block of ice.
Garden Soup – here’s a great sensory activity for kids to do in the backyard. This activity has them exploring in the garden, creating concoctions, and strengthening fine motor skills while keeping cool.
Colour Laboratory - One of our favourite backyard science activities. Kids can be little scientists mixing colours and potions in the backyard on a warm summer day.
Frozen Fractals Soup: Fans of Disney’s “FROZEN” will love this ice and water activity! Ice and water never fail to keep the hooligans entertained.
A backyard water wall is easy to make with a few recyclable containers. The hooligans have enjoyed hours of fun with this one over the years.
Sand, water and soap are all you need to set up a pretend coffee shop for your little ones. The hooligans ages 1-7 played with this for an entire morning.
Water play doesn’t get any easier than this. Toddlers can create window art with foam shapes and a bowl of water.
Create an under the sea small world with a bin of water and a few found items. My toddlers played with this one for hours.
Kids can learn all about colours and colour mixing with this simple coloured water experiment. It’s great for fine-motor and gross-motor development as well.
Laundry day pretend play: life skills, fine motor development and water play all wrapped up in one fun activity.
Set up a muddy car wash for a morning full of fun! Dirt, cars and soapy water! It will keep little car-lovers entertained for ages!
This terrific water displacement experiment is great fun for preschoolers!
Got a garden full of herbs? Let the kids explore their textures and aromas by chopping them up into a big batch of sensory soup!
A baby bath station is the hooligans’ absolute favourite. It’s an easy go-to activity that’s guaranteed to keep toddlers entertained for hours.
Dino dig! This dinosaur excavating activity always keeps preschoolers engaged until they’ve freed the very last dinosaur from the ice. We’re talking an hour or two of free entertainment here, Mom!
Here’s an easy and inexpensive (or FREE) way to add running water to any outdoor play space! Great for the sandbox, tea parties, mud kitchen and for washing up too!
Set up a simple water works activity bin. A few pvc pipes and funnels kept the hooligans busy for ages one morning, scooping, pouring, assembling and splashing.
For the price of a camping tarp, you can make an awesome backyard water slide! Keep the kids cool and having fun all day long!
Snipping, scooping, pouring, stirring… This fairy soup activity is jam-packed with tons of fun and learning!
Here’s another ice and water activity that FROZEN fans will love! Melting Elsa’s frozen hands with coloured salt and water.
A dinosaur small world will keep dino-crazy kids busy for hours!
Throw a Polly Pocket pool party! If you like you can switch out Polly with whatever small figures your child loves: Lego men, Little People, Barbies, farm animals… the possibilities are endless.
Set up an ocean sensory bin with a variety of found items and underwater toys.
How about a pretend play flower shop where the kids can plant and water their own floral arrangements?
And lastly, I don’t have a post written to go along with this one, but it’s always a hit with toddlers and preschoolers. Painting with water and paint rollers! A paint tray, some old rollers and brushes and a little water keeps them busy decorating the fence, driveway, deck and patio for ages.
Wait! Don’t leave yet!
If you’re looking for more easy, affordable ways to keep the kids entertained outdoors at home, be sure to check out all the awesome no-cost play features I’ve added to our back yard play area! You’ll find them here:
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