Best Water Games for Kids

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Whether it comes from a sprinkler, a swimming pool, or the beach, there’s nothing quite like playing in water in the summertime. The mere mention of water is enough to move kids to paroxysms of joy, especially when a trip to the pool is relatively rare. From the sprinkler to the shallow end, here are ten great games that kids love to play on long, hot summer days.

  1. Water Balloon War – Older kids love the competitive nature of a good, old-fashioned water balloon fight. A laundry basket makes a great container for freshly filled balloons; simply line the bottom with a towel to prevent any sharp edges from puncturing the balloons, causing them to detonate early. For a new twist on an old favorite, stage a game of dodge ball, replacing the ball with water balloons.
  2. Water Hose Limbo – Replacing the stick in a traditional round of limbo with the stream from a water hose takes the game to an entirely new level. Limbo is better with several players, so save this one for a day when your brood has their buddies over.
  3. Sponge Relay – A relay race is even more fun when the object is to fill a bucket with the water from a sponge. To play, each team gets two buckets and one sponge; one bucket is filled with water, which kids dunk their sponges into, and the other is left empty. Running to the opposite side of the “track,” each team member wrings the sponge out in the empty bucket and returns to their team. Rather than passing a baton, they pass the sponge. First team to fill their bucket wins.
  4. Marco Polo – Generations of kids have played a rousing round or two of Marco Polo whenever they were poolside; keep the tradition alive by teaching the rules of this classic game to your own youngsters.
  5. Not-Quite Piñata – Everyone loves a piñata; in this twist on the classic party game, water rains down in the place of sugary treats. Fill a ten-gallon garbage bag with water, and suspend it from an overhanging tree branch or other structure. Follow the traditional rules, allowing kids to take turns whacking at the bag with a broomstick. Helpful hint: dress kids in swimsuits, as they’ll get soaked when someone succeeds.
  6. Water Gun Tag – Put those water guns to good use by launching a tag offensive; the person who is “It” gets the water pistol, while all other players attempt to evade her. Because a successful “tag” will leave discernible evidence, there’s no disputing a changing of the guard. Don’t be surprised, however, if the chance to wield a water gun inspires kids to compete for the honor of being named “It!”
  7. Swimming Pool Ring Toss — With nothing more than a handful of ping-pong balls and an inner tube, kids can enjoy hours of entertainment. One child is put in charge of the inner tube, moving it slowly back and forth as another tries to toss the ping-pong balls into the middle. For a low-competition alternative that keeps rivalry at bay, instruct kids to work together to get all of the balls into the middle of the tube, rather than pitting one against the other to prevent it.
  8. Liquid Jump Rope — Substitute the rope for a stream of water from the hose for a great way to keep kids cool while encouraging physically active play during the warm summer months. An older child or adult should control the hose to keep the stream consistent.
  9. Sharks and Minnows – Another classic pool game, Sharks and Minnows is a variation on the traditional game of Tag, modified to suit a swimming pool. At the beginning of the game, the “minnows” line up at the side of the pool while the shark hovers in the middle. At the shark’s count of three, the minnows attempt to swim across without being tagged. When a minnow is tagged, they join forces with the shark and work to capture their former teammates; last minnow swimming is declared the winner.
  10. Swimming Pool Volley Ball – Inexpensive pool volleyball sets can be picked up at your local big-box retailer, and provide hours of summer fun. Because the resistance of the water makes it almost impossible to move quickly, a game of swimming pool volleyball becomes a bit more challenging than its dry-land counterpart. These sets often come with several rackets and a shuttlecock, allowing kids to switch to swimming pool badminton as the mood strikes them.

Though kids absolutely love them, slippery slides with small pools at the end are quite dangerous. Kids should always have strict supervision when using such toys to prevent reckless behavior. Also, pieces of rubber left behind by broken water balloons present a significant choking hazard to small children and can be dangerous to wildlife. Make cleaning up part of the game to ensure that each piece is properly disposed of, and slather on the sunscreen to avoid painful burns.

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