25 Fun and easy water play activities for toddlers and preschoolers. These simple water play ideas will keep kids entertained, learning and engaged for hours at home or in the classroom.
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, splashing, stirring and pouring for hours.
In the warm weather, I set up some form of water play set up in our 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 favourite water play activities for you and your kids to try in your backyard.
If you’re looking for a guaranteed way to keep your tots entertained on a warm day, you’ll find all kinds of simple ideas for water bins, water tables, small worlds and water-sensory play in this collection.
Bonus: All of these activities are easy to set up, using things you already have around the house. And each one has been tried and tested here, and has received a big ol’ stamp of approval from the hooligans!
Simple, fun and inexpensive, these wonderful water activities are guaranteed to keep your kids learning, laughing and staying cool in the backyard this summer!
25+ fun and easy water play activities for kids
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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.
Sink or Float Experiment – This easy water play activity is a fun way to teach toddlers and preschoolers how to make predictions and draw conclusions about density and buoyancy.
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!
Using a container, water and some stones, you can teach children about water displacement with this fun and easy water displacement experiment.
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 doll bath station is the hooligans’ absolute favourite water play activity. It’s our go-to because it’s so easy to set up and it keeps the toddlers entertained for hours.
Our Dino Dig is an exciting dinosaur excavating activity always keeps preschoolers engaged until they’ve freed the very last dinosaur from the ice. This fun activity generally keeps my daycare kids busy for over an hour!
Here’s an easy and FREE way to add running water to any outdoor play space! It’s great for the sandbox, tea parties, mud kitchen and for washing up too!
Set up a simple water works activity bin with a large bin of water and some funnels and PVC pipes. This activity 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! This will 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, fine-motor development and learning!
Here’s another ice and water activity that FROZEN fans will adore! Your kids 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! Set up a fun water bin activity with your child’s favourite characters. Pollys, Lego men, Little People, or farm animals would all work well. The possibilities are endless here. You could add some waterbeads to your water bin for more sensory fun and excitement.
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, painting with chalk and water is always popular with the hooligans. Round up some brushes and the sidewalk chalk and let them go to town decorating your porch or driveway!
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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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.