These Fun and easy water play activities will keep toddlers and preschoolers 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, we spend hours playing outdoors, and I set up some form of water play set up in our backyard play space 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!
Be sure to grab our printable list of 100 Fun Things for Kids to Do at Home this Summer too! Your kids will never be bored again!
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.
Painting with water is my favourite go-to activity for toddlers and preschoolers. The older kids love it too. You can use rollers and big paint brushes like you see in the photo above, or you can use smaller brushes so the kids can practice letter formation, spelling and printing skills.
A pretend play perfume factory is always a hit with kids who love making concoctions. Measuring, pouring, snipping leaves and flowers from the garden and exploring small instruments and glass bottles make this activity educational and fun.
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.
A colour-mixing laboratory is one of my toddlers’ and preschoolers’ favourite backyard activities. Science, water play, and gross-motor and fine-motor development all come together in this wonderful backyard activity.
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:
18 Free (or almost free) cool play features to add to your backyard play space this summer!
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25+preschool activities by 25 bloggers, 10 printables, 50 links to activities not featured in the book all for $8.99!
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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. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.
I am so excited and fascinated! I have a Pre school, Bright Ideas, in Trinidad, West Indies.I do a lot of fun activities, but am so intrigued by your great ideas. I have one concern, some parents do not like the kids to get wet, or play in sand. Any suggestions? I just love the creativity you demonstrate. Keep it up.
Thank you for your kind words, Lianti. I’m so glad you’re enjoying our activities! I don’t often have parents who are opposed to water and mess. I’m fortunate that most of them realize the value and importance of play, and that getting messy or wet is a sign that their child has had a good time. I would kindly explain to the parents that you have, that play is the most important form of learning for a child, and in order to learn to his or her fullest, a child must be able to experiment freely without the worry or fear that his or her parents will be upset about the mess. Encourage your parents to send their child in clothes that are meant for play. Often, the parents fear of a child ruining a good shirt or dress is the reason they don’t want their child getting messy. I flat out tell my parents that we WILL get messy, that’s just how we roll here, and if need be, they can pick up some second hand clothing that looks nice, but they haven’t cost much, so a little paint or ink or mud won’t be a big deal. You can also suggest that they send a large tee-shirt or smock that the child can put on over their clothing when you’re doing messy activities. Aprons work well too. Most importantly though, emphasize that that the learning and fun that their child will experience will create memories that last a life-time – much longer than any article of clothing that their child is wearing. 🙂
Thank you so much for the inspiration your your site provides. I love all the creative things you do and the way that you set up an activity and let the kids go at it!
Thanks Christine! We sure do have fun!
I think I might need exactly 25 days now to try these all 🙂
I felt really excited while reading this article. The ideas given in this blog are too good and I have used some of them for activities in my school. Keep sharing good stuff like this!
Fantastic fun ideas! Thank you!
Nice ideas. In summer hot weather it will great fun for kids. Really great fun ideas for toddlers. Kids generally love to play with water. So This water activities for toddlers must be great fun.
Great ideas! I already share these with my kids, they appreciate it!
Thanks, Stacy! I’m happy you liked these activities!
Thanks Jackie for a cool blog! Our kids love trampolines with water splashing very much!