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There’s a quote that says, “Water cures everything; sweat, tears, or the sea.” If you’re a seasoned parent or caretaker, you’ve probably noticed the power of water on your own. No matter what challenges present themselves in a day—grumpy children, stressed mama, constant arguing—a little bit of water play seems to have an almost magical ability to reset the day and improve moods.

This is especially true in the summer when the weather starts to heat up, summer boredom sets in, friends leave for vacations, or routines are too, well, routine.

Next time your children have an off day, try a little water play and see what happens! Below, we’ve assembled several water play ideas, including several with little or no prep required.

Water Play Ideas for Children

Most parents have a favorite splash pad or pool they like to take their children to in the summer, but that includes planning, preparation, and packing up the car. In this article, we share water play ideas that can be done at home with little or no preparation.

Wash Dishes

A quick and easy water play activity is for your children to wash dishes. If you have unbreakable dishes in your kitchen, you can use those, or play dishes can work equally well. If you have a helper stool then you can use that to help your child reach the sink. Fill one side with soapy water, add a scrub brush and sponge, throw in some dishes, and you’ve got water fun. Expect splashing and plan accordingly by laying towels around. If the idea of wet floors sounds unappealing take a bin of soapy water outside for dish washing instead.

Scoop & Pour Buckets

Bring out two or three buckets or small storage containers, fill them with water, and provide your child with implements to scoop or pour the water. They’ll have fun experimenting with dumping water from one container to the other, or even onto the grass or their toes. Containers of water can be dangerous to small children, so make sure there is an adult supervising this activity at all times.

Bathtub or Shower Paints

Let your child put on a swimsuit (or skip the suit altogether) and let them paint or color in the bathtub or shower. Gentle shaving cream and a drop of food coloring can make bathtub paints in a pinch, or you can order washable paints online. After the painting is complete, turn on the water and let your child experiment by seeing how water interacts with their masterpieces–which cleans up the paints and extends the activity for your children.

Turn on a Sprinkler

Did you run through sprinklers as a child? It seems like this “olden days” summer play has been overshadowed with splash pads, but children today enjoy it just as much as we used to when we were kids. If you have automatic sprinklers, turn them on to let your children run through them. If you have a sprinkler hose attachment, show your children how to jump over the spray or through the stream.

Water Balloon-less Water Fights

Fill up a bucket of water and give each of your kids a cup or bowl. Scoop some water into the bowl then see if they can “catch” another player by splashing the water onto them. Your children will get some great exercise while keeping cool.

Water Tag

Use cups of water or spay bottles to play water tag. You can play variations where one child is it, or give every child a spray bottle and children become “out” when their shirt is completely wet. The last person standing wins!

Sponge Bucket Fill

Give each of your children a sponge and a bucket, then fill up a kiddie pool or larger bucket with water. Your children must use the sponge to soak up as much water as possible from the pool or large bucket, run to their bucket, and squeeze the water into it. The first person to fill their bucket wins.

Do you have any other low-preparation water games you like to play with your children? Let us know in the comments below!

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