15 Backyard Water Activities To Keep Kids Cool & Safely Entertained Without a Pool

Devan McGuinness | Jun 29, 2020 Shop
15 Backyard Water Activities To Keep Kids Cool & Safely Entertained Without a Pool
Image: Amazon

kids playing with water activities outside

This summer is going to be a little different than the previous summers, thanks to the worldwide health issue we're still contending with. It's caused many of us to change and cancel or plans: No more traveling to the beach we used to spend a few weeks at during the summer or spending our days at crowded pools without thinking twice. But there are plenty of ways to make new memories and new traditions despite 2020 throwing out quite the curveball.

Although many of us don't have the luxury of having our own private and isolated swimming pools, there are still ways we can transform our backyard or front yard into a summer place of fun for the kids. We don't need to spend time at the beach or a swimming pool -- or a massive budget -- to keep the family cool and entertained this summer. From a mermaid splash pad and epic beach ball sprinkler to DIY activities that will keep boredom away, there are endless fun ways to play with water instead of sizzling in the sun.

Check out these 15 water activities and games to keep the kids safely happy and entertained while practicing social distancing. 

  • Toss Game Banner for Water Balloons


    A fun use for water balloons is to grab this toss game from Amazon. The banner comes with openings and point markers, with the idea being to throw water balloon balls in the open sections and to accumulate the most points. Another way to play the game could be to use water guns.

  • Make Sponge Bombs


    If water balloons were a favorite summer play time while growing up but there's someone with a latex allergy in the family – or they're just too hard to clean up, this is a fun alternative. Sponge bombs give that fun cool-off splash we all love but add a little fun making them with the kids.

  • Water Balloon Pinatas 


    If using balloons is something the kids will enjoy, why not try a fun water balloon pinata? All that needs to be done is hanging up water-filled balloons and using pool noodles to pop them. Whoever gets one to pop first, wins. Bonus, the kids will cool down in the water while playing along.

  • Try a DIY Sprinkler


    It doesn't take an elaborate system of hoses and extensions to set up a sprinkler for the kids. Using things that are at home, the kids (with parental help) can create their own sprinkler and hook it up to a general ol' garden hose to get more fun to cool down in the summer heat.

  • Play a Game of Water Gun Races


    The kids are no doubt going to complain about being bored this summer, and with the hot weather, activities that fix both situations are hard to find. This fun game using water guns and ropes is a wonderful way to keep everyone from being too bored while also providing some fun competition.

  • Mermaid Splash 


    So many inflatable swimming pools exist, but why not level up the fun with a mermaid sprinkler splash pad? This one, available on Amazon, is just the right size to keep little ones cooled down without needing to forfeit all the space in your backyard.

  • Play Water Balloon Baseball


    Baseball is a fun sport families enjoy during the summer. Sometimes, however, it's too hot and a little twist-up is needed. Enter water baseball. Replace the baseball with a water balloon filled with cold water, and see who can score the most points by the end of the game.

  • Frozen T-Shirt Contest

    Girl laying on the grass in a white t-shirt

    There are two parts of this contest that make it fun. The first is every participant puts on a bathing suit followed by a T-shirt on top. Someone gets to spray all the kids so their shirts are soaking wet. Each player then takes off the T-shirt and rolls it up into a bundle that looks like a burrito. The T-shirts go into the freezer, and once they're hard, the next step begins. The first of the players to put on their frozen shirt wins.

  • Grab a Racing Slip 'N Slide


    There is something about a summer where we end up with grass burns on our belly and a full day of sun. Slip 'N slides, such as this one from Amazon, are fun to just use -- each person taking a turn going down the slippery path and cooling down in the process. The competition could be leveled up by turning it into a race: Time each person going down the slide, and whoever does it the fastest wins.

  • Splash Mat


    If there are little ones at home, having something that allows for smaller amounts of water may be a more ideal fun time. This Splash Mat from Amazon is perfect for wading in a small amount of water for litter kids who need to cool down without parents worrying about their safety.

  • Play Pass the Water


    It may look like a simple game, but it's not as easy as it looks and it's a whole lot of fun. Although the point of the game is to not get very wet, chances are all the players are going to end up doing just that. All the players get into a line, and a cup of water is filled right to the brim. The first player passes the cup to the second in line, over their heads, and the chain continues. The goal is to pass the cup with as much water inside as possible to the last player.

  • Beach Ball Sprinkler


    If there's one item synonymous with summer it has to be the beach ball. The colorful strips bring back memories of hours spent at the beach, and that's what makes this sprinkler from Amazon so much fun. It's basically a giant stationary beach ball that shoots out water from the center and the sides. It's a great way to quickly cool off and keep kids entertained.

  • Make a Homemade Water Park


    If the family is a little more adventurous and doesn't mind taking on a good DIY project, this homemade water park idea is a great one. Imagine kids running around during the summer in their own backyard as if it were a waterpark with hundreds of people. With half-inch pipes and fitting, a drill, and other connections – and a parent and kids who are down to do the job – the summer is going to be one to remember.

  • Hydro Zoom Ball


    To play this one, fill up water balloons with cold water and place inside the Zoom Ball. It's a two-player game where each takes a set of handles and pulls them apart to send the Zoom Ball flying toward the other person along the strings. The goal is to have the other player zoom the ball back again without the water balloon popping, which eventually will and soak the person it's closest to. This game can be picked up on Amazon, and it's fun for kids 8 and older.

  • Jump, Don't Spill

    girls playing jump rope

    If the kids love to play jump rope and it's not too hot out to play that, this fun game called Jump, Don't Spill is a fun way to incorporate water play. The game needs at least three players: two to operate the jump rope and a third to jump in the center. The person whose turn it is to jump has to do so with a cup filled with ice cold water. The idea is to jump and not get caught in the rope, while also not spilling any water. It's a lot harder than it sounds.

    Psst: If you choose to purchase an item on this list, CafeMom may receive a small cut. Each item and price is up to date at the time of publication; however, an item may be sold out or the price may be different at a later date.

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