5 water play ideas for kids

Water play idea for kids

Kids love playing with water – sploshing muddy puddle splashes up their legs (and yours), slopping buckets on the beach, even bringing the fun indoors when they forget they’re soaked through and stomp water through the house. Whatever the preference, it’s handy to have a few fun activities up your sleeve when hitting the pool, the beach, or even your garden. Take inspiration from these ideas for water games for kids of all ages, including water play for kids at bathtime.

1. Water balloon games

Location: Garden

Recommended age: School age

Got a packet of balloons? Fill them with water and you’ve got a whole host of fun water games for kids to play in the garden. The inevitable pop of an exploding balloon adds to the fun for older children – and of course to the mess in the garden, but little ones might prefer to sit out and watch. Ideas include:

  • Water balloon and spoon race: Just like egg and spoon races, but watery (keep the balloons small enough to fit comfortably on the large wooden spoons).
  • Water balloon bucket toss: Throw water balloons into large plastic bowls spread out in a line, with the points increasing the further away they get (bonus points if the balloon doesn’t burst).
  • Water balloon piñata: Suspend it from a tree branch just like a standard piñata and take turns to tap it, but instead of sweets raining down, it’ll be actual water.

Sure, there’ll be a load of popped balloons strewn across the garden, but the kids will have had a blast (literally and metaphorically). And it won’t take long to collect them all up – especially if the young’uns get involved. Make it fun by turning it into a race. There’s nothing like a healthy bit of competition to get the tidying up done in double-quick time.


Keep some Plenty Towels nearby to dry off wet hands and wipe up those inevitable spills. The absorbent sheets are ideal for splashy play days.

2. Sink or float water play

Location: Bath 

Recommended age: Pre-school upwards

Little plastic toys aren’t just for leaving in the corridor and treading on when you’re on the way to the loo in the middle of the night. They really come into their own at bathtime. And you can give bath play some direction with water play for kids that involves discovering whether each toy floats or sinks. It’s also a clever way of introducing early science concepts too. Learning while playing = win-win. You don’t even need a bathtub for this game in its simplest form – a bucket will do.

If they’re learning to put their face under, bathtime water play activities like this can really help encourage them to take the plunge – literally. Pop on a pair of goggles so they can keep their eyes open under water to find all the toys that sank. Or switch it up by getting them to close their eyes before you chuck an unspecified number of toys into the tub, and they then have to feel around with their hands to figure out how many you threw in.

It’s no big deal if they get carried away and splash a bit of water on the floor – a quick dab with an absorbent piece of kitchen towel will sort that straight away. And the joy on their splashy faces is well worth a few seconds spent soaking up mini puddles.

3. Beach ball race

Location: Pool 

Recommended age: Swimmers

Give them some focus during pool time with water play activities that are not only fun but also great exercise. Each child has a beach ball/inflatable they have to push from one end of the pool to the other. As soon as the competitive spirit kicks in they’ll be kicking hard to win.

4. Beach bucket relay water play 

Location: Seaside

Recommended age: All (from walking)

Water play ideas for the beach have to be suitable for saltwater – and around other people. Keeping the fun contained to buckets on the shoreline is a handy way of ticking both those boxes. Equip each child with a spade, cup, spoon or shell. They have to run between the water’s edge and their bucket, filling it up as quickly as they can. Disclaimer: when you get home, you will continue to find sand everywhere. For weeks.

5. ‘Make it rain’ water sensory play 

Location: Bath/ garden/ pool/ seaside

Recommended age: Pre-school

All you need is some containers with holes in (and, obviously, water) for this water sensory play – so it can be played anywhere. If you’re at home you can use sieves and colanders, otherwise poke a few holes in the bottom of a clean, empty plastic cup.

It’s lots of fun for little ones to scoop up water and make it rain over their favourite plastic toys (the soft and cuddly ones prefer the luxury of baby drool for their showers). They could bring on the showers over their farm animals or dinosaurs. Extend the animal theme with a few fun animal yoga poses, too. 

Now that you have some water play ideas for the beach, the pool, the garden and the bath you’ll be ready to let the splashy fun commence wherever you are.

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