Beat the heat with these easy backyard water games for kids. All you need for these low to no preparation water games is a garden hose, water balloons, and a bucket or two — perfect to play at a summer party, field day, or day camp.
The kids will also like these 25 fun backyard water activities and 5 DIY sprinkler ideas you can build yourself, plus these tips and ideas for simple rock painting for kids — all part of our easy printable summer bucket list for kids!
8 Classic and Easy Water Games for Kids
Nothing beats the heat and the doldrums quite like playing in the water, and you don’t need a pool to have fun!
The basics like water balloons, squirt guns, buckets, and a garden hose are perfect items for fun water games if you’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve.
Use these simple tools to keep the kids cool and entertained at home this summer with a few of these classic backyard water games and water balloon games (plus these outdoor games while you dry off).
These easy water games are also fun for field day, end of year parties, and day camps. See 36 great ideas for end of year parties here.
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Easy Water Game #1: Water Relay Race
- Place one bucket of water and one empty bucket (or large bowls) for each team at opposite ends of the back yard.
- When the game begins, players must use a ladle to transfer all of the water from one bucket across the yard to the other bucket.
- First one to move all of their water wins!
For added adventure, set up a water obstacle course for the children to complete with their relay race ladles!
Easy Water Game #2: Water Balloon Towel Toss
- Give each team of two a beach towel to hold between them.
- Once everyone is ready, toss one team a full water balloon.
- Their job is to pass the balloon to another team using only their towel, who will then catch it in their towel and toss it back (or to another team).
- Whoever gets soaked by a broken balloon loses the round!
Count how many tosses you can do before the balloon breaks, or make it into a bigger challenge by taking one step apart for every successful catch.
For older kids or adults, set up a volleyball net and have 1-2 partnerships on each side to play water balloon volleyball.
Easy Water Game #3: Duck, Duck, Splash!
Learn to play the game at The Kid’s Fun Review, or come up with your own fun version.
For more summer day activities, try these 8 Ice Play Games and Activities, including ice cube painting and ice excavations.
Easy Water Game #4: Water Balloon Target Toss
This easy water game is 2 games in one: let the kids draw the targets with sidewalk chalk and then let them take aim for a water balloon toss or sponge toss.
- Use sidewalk chalk to draw a large target or set of targets in the driveway.
- Add hula hoops, buckets, and other targets, too.
- Players will toss water balloons (or soaked sponges or splash balls) at the target, trying to hit the bullseye.
For more of a challenge, suggest different ways to throw the balloons – facing backwards, with your “wrong” hand, with your eyes closed, etc. Or set up a water obstacle course with climbing, jumping, etc mixed in with the targets. Get creative!
Easy Water Game #5: Garden Hose Limbo
Turn an ordinary garden hose into a summery limbo bar for a hot summer day! Water limbo is great on its own or as part of a water obstacle course.
- Turn on the garden hose and hold it at limbo bar height.
- Kids can take turns holding the hose and limbo-ing under.
- Once all of the kids have passed under the water, lower it a little more and have everyone try again, repeating the process until all but one child has been splashed!
To conserve and not waste much water, do this game in an area where the lawn needs extra watering and consider using a hose nozzle to give you smaller stream of water (and longer water limbo “bar”) while using less water.
Easy Water Game #6: Roll 6 and Splash!
This is a game smaller children can really get into. All you need is bowl or pan and a six-sided die.
- Fill a shallow dish with water and provide a single die for the group.
- Each player will take turns rolling the die.
- When someone rolls a six, they get to splash the water in the dish, showering their friends!
You can find more details for this game and a couple more at Toddler Approved.
Easy Water Game #7: Water Gun Tag
Play this game the way any game of tag is played, but with one difference – the person who’s “it” has a water gun!
- The chosen tagger chases the other children and tries to squirt one of the them.
- Whoever gets wet is tagged and becomes the next “It”!
Turn this into a variation of freeze tag to make the game last longer, or give everyone a small water gun to play doctor tag!
Easy Water Game #8: Balloon-on-a-Spoon Relay Race
This takes the egg-on-a-spoon relay to the next level by adding water balloons.
- Organize two teams into two lines in a clear area of the backyard.
- Set up traffic cones or a sturdy object of some kind to mark the “turn around,” then place full water balloons on large wooden spoons for each team.
- The first person in each line will take the spoon in a straight line to the turn-around and back, then hand the spoon off to the next person on their team until every person has had a turn.
- If a balloon is dropped, the player at fault must run to the sidelines and get another.
- Whichever team gets through all of its players first is the winner!
Check out the cute spoons Two Shades of Pink created to play the game for a birthday party.