Water Play for Kids

Why it is Important For Our Children to Play in the Water

I’ll admit, when kids aren’t good swimmers, playing near or in the water can be a bit stressful. However, developing skills in water safety, swimming, as well as discovering their own personal limits is always a good plan. Swimming and playing in the water is great cardiovascular fun, improves physical strength, gross coordination skills, some basic science lessons in cause and effect, the physics of surface tension, and so much more.


Besides, kids always get a hoot out of splashing around and giving their dry parents big, cold, wet hugs!




These water play activities are only the beginning. There are more activities on the It’s All Kid’s Play blog as well as Pinterest. And sometimes I share ideas on Twitter, too! Oh! And be sure to check out the book I wrote, too. It includes even more travel games as well as over 1,000 other play activities so no matter where you are and what your interests or age, there is something in there for you–guaranteed! Check it out!



Make a splash: Go swimming! Last one in is a dirty rotten egg. --child running into water“Swimming, swimming, in the swimming pool. When days are hot and days are cold, in the swimming pool!”

Everybody now… “Swimming, swimming…” (Of course, you don’t have to swim in the pool, if it is lovely out you can swim in a pond, kiddy pool, fountain (don’t get caught!), lake, ocean, or even an irrigation canal or reservoir. Just make sure it is a safe place to swim before you go. Some places have nasties in the water or undertows that are very dangerous.)

P.S. The last one in the water is a dirty rotten egg. (You can’t say I didn’t warn you.)


Paddle Boating

I love paddle boating, but I seem to go in circles. I love paddle boating, but I seem to go in… hang on, I’m going in circles just thinking about it, aren’t I?

Body Surfing

Safety First: Make sure you have adult supervision. You must be able to swim to body surf. A life jacket is also a good idea, even if you know how to swim. I don’t recommend this activity to weak swimmers.

To body surf, you need some good waves. So, you need either the beach where you can get some waves about 1 metre high (3 feet high) or a wave pool. Swim out to where the waves start to break (the waves start to roll down on themselves making the top of the wave turn white). Once there, face the beach and wait for a wave to start breaking. Get in front of the breaking wave and start swimming quickly. If you time it right, the wave will push you along. If you get pushed right up onto the beach, watch for sand in your bathing suit! (That’s happened to me more than once!)

NOTE: If you are not a strong swimmer or would prefer to use a flutter board, it works just as well. In fact… it’s kind of like boogie boarding when you do that! (See the next activity below.)

Boogie Boarding

Boogie on a board! No, not quite.

A boogie board is a floating foam board bigger than a flutter board. Sort of like a really small surfboard. Place your upper body on the board and let the waves roll you back to shore. (You may have to do some kicking–look for hints that will help you in the body surfing instructions above.)

Can you do any tricks?

Waterslides or Spray Park

Children playing at a splash park in her clothes.Let’s get wild and wet!!! While waterslides can be expensive (but SO much fun), spray parks are usually free! What a lovely way to spend a hot day. (Bring a picnic and your sunscreen and stay for hours!)







Kids SailingDon’t know how? Don’t have a boat? Don’t let that stop you! Some marinas (where boats are parked, fixed, stored, etc.) have sailboats for rent and some even have lessons! Go on an adventure!





Boat Ride
Canoeing / Kayaking

Make sure you check your route first so you don’t end up going over a waterfall, through rapids, or into rocks. And like in any boat, wear your lifejacket and make sure you know what you are doing before you go too far from shore. And maybe check the weather too.

Water Fight!

Splash wars in the water! Or, use the garden hose, a spray bottle, water balloons, water guns, shampoo bottles–squeeze the water out in a gush!) or whatever you can find! I declare war!

Skip Stones

How to skip stones: Find a stone that fits nicely in your hand. A good skipping stone is flat on the bottom and slightly rounded on the top. Try and get the stone to skip along the top of the water in a lake or pond (watch out for other people and animals). If you throw the stone side-arm, it will bounce along the water. See how many times you can get it to skip.

Hint: Flat water (no waves) is best for skipping stones.

Look for Tadpoles

In the spring check out your local pond, quiet stream, or creek. They are usually in quiet water areas near shore. They look really cool–but it’s only for a week or two in the spring so you have to time it right!

Race Sticks in a River/Creek

Safety First: Rivers can be dangerous. Stay away from the edge as it is easy to slip in and get swept away. Bring an adult or stand on a bridge above the water.

Each person drops a stick in the river. See which stick moves the fastest. If you are on a bridge, see whose stick is first coming out from under the bridge. (My brother and I used to do this all the time when we were kids–especially when waiting for our parents to finish their farm work.)

Chase Waves Along the Shore

Don’t let them catch you! How close can you get to them without getting wet?

Collect Seashells
Collect Sea Glass

Sea glass is really cool. It’s glass that has been in the ocean for a long time and been worn down so now the edges are all rounded off and no longer sharp.

Watch a Hole Fill with Water

At the beach dig a hole near the waterline (at the edge of the water). Within a few minutes the bottom of the hole should fill with water, matching the level of the lake/ocean shore. Isn’t that cool?

Do a Somersault Under Water

Can you do it? Frontwards and Backwards? Don’t get water up your nose!

Do an Handstand Under Water

Want a hint? Waist deep or slightly shallower is easier. If the water is too shallow or too deep it gets harder to get into the handstand position as well as stay in it.

Pretend you are a Dolphin/Shark/Whale 
Run Through the Sprinkler
Slip and Slide

Use a ready-made slip and slide or create your own slip and slide out of a long sheet of plastic. Peg the slip and slide into the grass so it doesn’t move around. (On a slight hill is best so you can slide down it.) Before you slide, check the grass for things like rocks, sticks, and other things that would hurt to slide over.)

Aim the sprinkler on your slip and slide so you have a bit of wet to keep you going… and if you want to make it super-duper crazy slippery… add a drop of dish detergent. Just take it easy! It’s get c-c-crazy!

Put on your bathing suit and start sliding.

Looking for more? Try these pages as well:

+ More Outside Play Activities Home

+ More Water Activities From the Blog

+ More on Pinterest

Might I also suggest this time-saver…

Get the Book: 1,001 Boredom Busting Play Ideas for families and kids.

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