Stay Cool This Summer Without Breaking the Bank – It’s All About Water Play

What comes to mind when you think of summertime?

Sun and heat – and probably some bored kids looking for something to do while they’re out of school.

Well, look no further than your own backyard and some items you have on hand to cool things off during those long summer days!

Kids of all ages love playing in the water.  When we were kids, we were lucky to have a garden hose and sprinkler, maybe a little plastic wading pool.

Now there are so many different kinds of summer toys available to keep kids busy, but they can also come with a pretty stiff price tag.

Being a parent, especially with children of multiple ages, means finding something fun and creative that everyone can enjoy.  But it also helps if providing that fun doesn’t cost much!

Of course, you can pull out the sprinkler and wading pool, but here are a few water play ideas that the kids are sure to love.

Paint with water – Is your child a budding artist?  Fill some squirt guns or clean spray bottles purchased from the dollar store with water and sidewalk chalk that you have grated with a cheese grater into a powder – just mix to the “paint” consistency you desire.

This is washable and can be used to paint designs on the deck, fence, or on large sheets of paper you can allow to dry in the grass.  Use one bottle for each color (or to fill the squirt guns) and let their abstract masterpieces come to life!

Did you know that you can paint with ice cubes?  Simply fill an ice cube tray with water you’ve colored with food-safe coloring, then grab some large pieces of paper and a cookie sheet.

When the kids are sitting outside in the warm sun, they can place some of the colored cubes on the paper that you have set into a cookie sheet.  Tilt the sheet in different directions and as the ice melts, it will leave colorful trails behind!  (Note:  This is best on light colored paper as the colors will be faint, and also make sure that you use washable coloring.)

While we’re playing with ice, try this great activity that’s perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.

Fill a large food storage container with about an inch of water.  Freeze and add a few small, plastic toys – bathtub toys work great.  Add another layer of water, freeze, and add a few more toys.

Once you’ve filled the container, you’ll have a giant block of ice with toys scattered throughout.  Send the little ones outdoors with a couple of spoons and let them scrape away at the melting ice until they excavate a treasure.  This keeps them busy and happy for hours!

Use your noodle!  We know that kids love playing with pool noodles in the swimming pool, but they can be used for lots of other fun activities!  Cut one into segments and stack them like blocks on the deck to build a tower.  Or let kids “string” them on the garden hose using different colors to make patterns.  They can also be lined up on a deck railing as targets for squirt guns or spray bottles filled with water.  See who can knock down the most!

Pool noodle segments can also be used as bubble blowers, and the best thing is, they’re only around a dollar apiece!

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That wading pool doesn’t just have to be used for wading.  Fill it with soapy water and let your little ones make their own car wash station for their toy vehicles.  Give them a few sponges, a place to rinse them off, and some clean shammies from the dollar store.  They’ll love washing and buffing their cars!

You can also use bathtub color tablets to tint the water green, so their dinosaurs can run through the swamp or blue to make an ocean for their sea creatures.

The wading pool can also be part of a “pouring station,” where little ones can use items from the house to fill, dump, and pour.  Measuring cups, ice cream scoops, a toy teapot, or those clean spray bottles can be used to help them learn cause and effect and motor skills.  You can even add a few clean sponges, so they can squeeze the water into containers.

There are so many creative ways to use water in play.  Let the kids use their imaginations to come up with great art or science ideas to add a little educational boost to their summer.

Have fun and stay cool with these activities and let us know if you have any great ones of your own!

Leave us your ideas and comments, and Happy Summer!