Summer is in full swing and most of us are going to be dealing with the hottest weather of the year very soon. Everyone has their favorite way to stay cool when it’s hot outside, but for those of us who need a little help to stay active in the summer sun it might be helpful to have a few ideas more interesting than just standing the sprinklers.
If you’re looking for ways to have fun, cool off, and spend time with your friends and family at the same time, we collected some of our favorite activities! Here are some water games, contests, and activities to inspire some summer fun in your own backyard.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of time setting up your summer fun, you can do a lot with a garden hose, a few buckets, and a few cups. A cup race can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, so it’s perfect for tailoring your fun to fit your family.
A simple bucket race involves two teams of people, each with their own cup, lined up behind a bucket full of water, and an empty bucket at the other side of the yard for each team. The goal of any cup race is for a player to fill their cup with water at the first bucket and take the water to the empty bucket, and run back to tag in the next player in line. Whichever team fills the empty bucket up (or to a marked line in the bucket) wins! But the path to the bucket is where the game can get much more complicated!
Obstacles between the two buckets can change a simple race into a much more careful one. Running through sprinklers or around lawn furniture are easy ways to make the path to the empty bucket more interesting. You can also add extra rules to how players have to hold the cup, or make them pass it between players before pouring it in.
One kind of cup race requires less running and more skill. Have each team sit in a line behind the full bucket and place the empty bucket in front of the last player in line, then make the players pass the cup from the front of the line backwards without turning around! It’s a surefire way to get a little more water spilled all over everyone and help everyone cool down. You can even add blindfolds to this variant to make it a bit more challenging for older kids and adults.
Water Balloon Games
Water balloons are an easy summer game starter. Even without any rules involved you might find yourself in a water balloon fight just by having them around! But if you want a bit more structure to your water balloon fun, we have some suggestions.
Dodgeball is a fun game to play with water balloons, you can take whatever dodgeball rules you like, with popped water balloons counting as a hit. You can also take the opposite rout and do a water balloon toss, where pairs of players move apart every time they manage to throw a water balloon without it popping. You can even take the rules from the cup races section but use water balloons instead of cups.
Other less common water balloon games might include volleyball or hot potato. You can play volleyball by having two players hold a towel between them to catch and launch balloons over the net. To play hot potato, you can play music as you pass a water balloon around, and when the music stops you pop the balloon on whoever is holding it. You can play all sorts of games with water balloons this way.
And for those of you who don’t want to spend too much time filling water balloons, you can have a bucket filled with water and big sponges as a good replacement. Just make sure you have plenty of water buckets around for sponge refills. That way you can play the same games but with less prep and clean up, and it’s MUCH more reusable.
Water and Tarps
Many beloved summer memories start with a plastic tarp and water. The classic slip n’ slide is an easy example, just roll a long strip of plastic tarp out over a gentle hill and put a hose at the top. You can even make the ride a bit smoother with a small squeeze of soap or oil at the top. But that isn’t the only fun with water and tarps you can have.
You might be surprised to know how easy it is to make a homemade kiddy pool with just a tarp and a shovel. You can dig a shape for your pool to be or make it out of heavy blocks like hay bails. As long as your tarp is big enough to hang over the sides with a generous amount of extra slack and your walls are sturdy enough to hold the water in, you can make a pool into any shape you’d like. And for a pool on the go, you can always lay a large tarp on the inside of a pickup truck bed and fill that with water instead. You can have a pool with you wherever you have a water hose!
The last tarp trick you can try is making your own water bed. Get two big plastic sheets and carefully tape the edges together with a strong duct tape layer, being careful to keep one corner open. You will want to move the water bed to a level grass surface before you fill it with water by putting a hose in the open corner, being sure to keep that corner elevated while you fill it before taping the corner closed. You can even place small pool toys inside the tarps before taping them for a bit of visual flair. Now you have a cheap water bed you can let your kids jump all over without worrying about how it might leak all over the carpet.
Cool Down Your Summer
It can be hard to get out of an air-conditioned house when it’s so hot outside. But if you have access to a lawn, a hose, and a desire to be active with your friends and family you should really consider having some water-fueled fun.
You should always be considerate of any water restrictions in your area due to drought, and be aware of how a day of water games could increase your water bill. You could even consider replacing your old salt-based water softener with a NuvoH2O system to save more on your utility bills and give yourself more leeway for a fun water day!
You and your friends and family deserve to enjoy summer while you can, not stay stuck inside for fear of the heat. Plan a fun game day, a relaxing soak in a pool, or just have a game set up and ready to go whenever convenient for you. But no matter what you decide to do, enjoy it!