20 Fun & Frugal Water Play Ideas

20 Fun & Frugal Water Play Ideas



Frugal Summer Fun via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com

Welcome to Day Two of 5 Days of Frugal Summer Fun, part of the Summer 2013 iHomeschool Network Hopscotch. Yesterday, we talked about different things you can do to build memories outside in the summer without water. While there are so many fun things for the kids to do outside without water, I know that if your kids are anything like mine, they want to play with water once the weather warms up.

Here are some fun and frugal ways to have fun – and get wet – this summer to beat the heat.


20 fun and frugal water play ideas via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com


Water Crafts

  • Bubble Painting – Set a small cup {like a Dixie cup} in the center of a piece of heavy paper. Fill it with water and a few drops of coloring, give the kids a straw, and have them blow bubbles until the cup overflows and bubbles spill onto the paper. Switch out the cups with a new color, and have them try again until they are satisfied with the colorful-ness of their artwork.
  • Squirt Gun Painting – This stems from the same idea as the bubble painting, but this time fill up several squirt guns with different colored water, tape paper to a fence or lay it in the grass, and have the kids squirt a design on the paper.
  • Ship in a Bottle – Take an old water bottle, fill it halfway, color the water blue, and add in a small toy boat {or some other floating toy}, put the lid back on and glue it shut. The kids can make waves and storms by rocking the bottle back and forth.
  • Make Watering Cans for the Kids – Do you have old laundry detergent bottles? Save one for each kiddo, clean them out really well, drill holes in the lids, fill them with water, put the lids back on, and let your little ones water the plants {or each other} for you. If you’re really crafty, you can paint them, uses stickers, or Modge Podge the bottles to make them look better.
  • Ice Art – Freeze blocks of ice, the bigger the better. Once they’re solid, pull them out, and have your kids sprinkle them liberally with salt. Encourage them to observe what the salt does to the ice, then have them squirt food coloring all over the block. Display these temporary works of out in the open where your kids can watch them melt all day long.




Water Science

  • Sink and Float – This is one of the simplest, but most enjoyable, science activities for young kids. Grab a tub and a whole bunch of household objects for your kids to test out. Make it an experiment by asking them to predict which things will sink to the bottom and which will float. Test their hypotheses ask ask them which results came as a surprise.
  • Gravity-Defying Water – Grab a bucket of water, tie a rope to the handle, and let your big kids swing it around and over their heads to demonstrate centripetal force. {If the area is wide open, let them let the bucket go and watch it fly!}
  • Make a Rain Gauge –Measure the summer rainfall by making your own rain gauge. Take a clear jar, place a ruler inside, and set it out before the rain begins. When the storm is over, head outside and see how many inches fell. Keep track of rainfall throughout the summer to find out how much rain fell altogether.
  • Oil and Water – While oil and water don’t mix, they can make for some pretty science. Use an old water bottle, fill it about 1/3 of the way with colored water, add another 1/3 vegetable oil, and seal the top with a hot glue gun. Have your kids shake the bottles to mix the oil and water – then watch it separate again.
  • Water Transfer – Get two glasses. Fill one 1/2 way with blue water and the other 1/2 way with yellow water. Twist a paper towel into a tight rope and put one end in one glass and the other in the second glass. Watch {patiently} what happens. Slowly {depending on how tightly you twisted} the water will creep up the towel, mixing in the middle. You’ve just demonstrated capillary action.



Water Play

  • Pet Wash – Trixie, our border collie, is in desperate need of a bath, so I’m throwing out buckets, a hose, and dog shampoo on the next super-hot day, telling the kids to get into their swimsuits, and sending them out onto the driveway to wash the dog. While they’re at it, they can wash our guinea pig, George, and out him in his carrier to warm up while they clean his cage. Lastly, they can give our new turtles a good scrub with an old toothbrush.
  • Squirt Gun Fight – This is an easy-peasy old-school fall back that has my kids running outside to play with the neighbors every afternoon. I picked up several four packs of water guns from the dollar store and leave them outside by the water faucet. FUN!
  • Sponge Bombs – There are many different tutorials floating around the web and Pinterest for this activity, but you really don’t need a tutorial unless you want them to be photo-worthy. I’m looking for something to keep my kids cool and busy, so I’m not interested in taking a ton of time with this one myself {google “sponge bombs” if you want to pretty them up}. Cut apart some dollar store sponges into strips, tie them together {pom-pom like} so they look like chunky Koosh balls, saturate them – and give your kids a bucket for reloading them – and get ready to dodge some wet artillery…take cover!
  • Baby Bath – Grab a bucket or basin, some diluted dish soap, a few wash cloths, and all those baby dolls cluttering up your playroom, and line them up outside for a long overdue bath. Turn your little girls loose and let them scrub and shampoo until they’re content.
  • Big Car Wash —  The other day, Logan came running inside to ask if she could get wet. I told her she could, but I was nursing the baby, so I didn’t check on her right away. When I went outside about 20 minutes later, Trevor, Molly, and Logan were all drenched and so were the 4-year-old twins from next door. They’d been helping the twins’ dad wash his car. They were totally soaked, had soap everywhere, but were grinning as they hit the car {and each other} with giant sponges and microfiber cloths. They’ll be cleaning my van several times this summer.
  • Mini Car Wash – For the days the kids need some water play, but I don’t have a dirty van {or am sick of them washing it}, they’ll be playing car wash by lining up the 300,000 {or so} matchbox cars we own. Small sponges, a little bit of soap, and the sun to dry them off… we may have all of our toys go through “bath” time by the end of the summer.
  • Ride Bikes Through the Sprinklers – My kids love it when I set the sprinkler up on the driveway and let them ride through it. I may get up the energy and creativity to build one of these cool PVC bike washes this summer, but as I’ve planned to do it for a few years now, and haven’t followed through, I’ll at least know that the kids are enjoying some wet-biking fun with our old yellow sprinkler.
  • Sprinkler Fun – Sometimes it really is the simplest ideas that work the best. Instead of creating a picture-perfect backyard activity, just pull out an old sprinkler, get the kids in their suits, and add water. A sprinkler and water is all you really need for a backyard water park. Just ask my kids.
  • Slip and Slide – I loved slip and slides when I was a kid, but as an adult I hate spending the money on the flimsy, plastic, character-themed “slides” sold in the stores. It seems {and I’ve bought them a few times, so I know} that the first time you hook up the hose, they spring a leak and never work the way they’re supposed to again. Instead of investing in these again and again, we just throw an old tarp down on the grass, get it wet with the hose – repeatedly – and let the neighborhood loose. Once the slippery fun is over, the tarp gets hung on the fence to dry and then rolled up for the next camping trip or water fun day.
  • Water Wall – This is one thing I haven’t tried, but plan to this summer. I’ve seen it on Pinterest and on other blogs and know my kids {big and small} will love it. We have a wooden fence in the back that I plan to add tubes, buckets, old bottles, and funnels to. I’ll let the kids have the hose and play away. Remind me to post about it… ;)


What are some of your ideas for wet and wild family fun in the sun? I hope you’ll share them in the comments. Make sure you come back tomorrow for more frugal family summertime fun – better yet, subscribe by email so you don’t miss a post.