Best backyard water fun for kids and best outdoor water activities for family fun! Here’s how to have water fun without a pool, including water games for backyard and ideas for water play for kids — perfect summer activities for kids, field day games with water, and backyard activities for family outdoor time / backyard party. Unique ideas and fun ways to keep cool in the heat!
BEST BACKYARD WATER FUN FOR FAMILIES WITHOUT A POOL
Looking for DIY backyard water play or backyard water activities for toddlers and up? You’ll love these kid friendly backyard ideas on a budget and outdoor activity ideas with water — for toddlers, water activities for preschoolers, elementary kids, and even backyard water fun for tweens and teens / older kids! Let’s get to fun things to do outside in your backyard and make your own water park in your yard!
How can I have fun in water without a pool?
- Have a water fun day that includes outdoor water games and outdoor bubbles!
- Need ideas for backyard DIY? Look for inflatable pools or backyard water slide fun jumps for sale cheap on Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, or garage sale listings and make your own backyard water park.
- Get a water fun table for toddlers and younger kids.
- Have a backyard water carnival! (learn how below)
- Create water fun games obstacle course with pool noodles and sprinklers.
- Have outdoor beach day around a baby pool, complete with beach music and beach drinks!
- Play water hose limbo, complete with music and prizes!
- Have a wet sponge relay race around fun pool toys.
- Do summer water fun art with squirt bottles and colored water.
- Have a squirt the target contest with water guns or even just the water hose!
- Turn your backyard into a water park with slip n slides, baby pools, best kid sprinklers toys, DIY backyard water activities, and DIY backyard ideas for kids! (Build a water park with fun toys around your house!)
- Play water balloon baseball or tennis or toss the water balloon (water balloon hot potato).
- Have a water bucket race.
- Play throw the wet sponge where the person who gets hit is out.
Keep scrolling for the full list of backyard water play ideas and DIY best water games — even outdoor water activities for adults, too! Water play is a great way to cool down on hot summer days! Yes, you can have fun with a standard garden hose!
Backyard Water Activities For Toddlers
Don’t leave out the little ones when having fun with water. Creating water playing for toddlers and water games for preschoolers is cheap and easy. Outdoor water play equipment doesn’t need to be expensive!
Here are some of the DIY best water toys for toddlers:
- Give them a bucket of water and a sponge for cheap and easy hours of fun.
- Aim a water sprinkler for kids at your back yard swing or put the water hose on the slide of the swingset.
- Get a bin and fill it with water and random objects. Give the toddler a ladle for scooping fun. Add in mini water wheels like this for extra fun! (It’s the perfect size for a water table, too!)
- Play car wash and allow them to wash their tricycle or riding toys.
- Float toy boats and water toys for kids in a big plastic bin or baby pool.
- Blow bubbles into a bucket or baby pool. (Get a Recipe For the Best Homemade Bubble Recipe for Kids!)
- Make a DIY pool with a plastic tote or bin.
- Paint with water using a bucket of water, paint brushes and the sidewalk or deck.
- Make DIY water slides or a homemade slip and slide for an easy way to get cool.
- Fill some different size spray and squirt bottles (or try these) and let them have fun outside!
- Freeze some fun mini cool toys for kids or plastic numbers and letters in ice and give them toddler play tools to try to get them out. (One of the best water toys ideas!)
- Get a water table for hours of playing with water! (It’s one of the backyard coolest water toys for hours of entertainment all summer long!)
- Blow up some fun inflatable water toys.
- Fill a baby pool with water, floating duckies, and ball pit balls and let them go to town as a fun outdoor water toy play area.
- Get a cheap bubble blower (or other sprinkler toys) and put it near your sprinkler to run through as part of your water yard games / water activities for backyard. (I mean water and bubbles? What better way to have fun outside in nice weather?!)
MORE FUN SUMMER KIDS ACTIVITIES:
Why Water Play Is Important For Kids
Why outdoor water play is important for toddlers and up:
- Helps strengthen fine motor skills.
- Improves hand-eye coordination.
- Helps with gross motor skills.
- Encourages kids to explore
- Helps build confidence in skills
- Practices thinking and reasoning
- Builds science skills
- Helps build observation skills
- Encourages all different levels of sensory play
- Helps kids get exercise
- Encourages being outside and outdoor play
According to Michigan State University:
“Early childhood educators cannot overstate the importance of sensory play in the educational process. It is the foundation of all the skills children will use in school learning to read, write and solve math and science problems. Once a child has these experiences, they are able to draw upon the body memory and cognitive memory of their experiences when faced with new situations.”
So be sure to head outside for some water toys outdoor play, especially with smaller children!
OK! Let’s get to the cool backyard water activities, best backyard water toys, and what water fun without a pool can you have with the whole family. These are great for a staycation summer vacation too for little kids and big kids alike — whether you’re looking for something for 5 year olds, outdoor water toys for 7 year olds, or something for bored teens to do in the summer!
WHAT IS THE BEST OUTDOOR ACTIVITY WITH WATER?
How can I make my backyard fun?
What do you do on a hot day outside with water?
One of the ways you can make your backyard a place kids want to hang in in the summer is to create outdoor water fun for kids — and it doesn’t have be extensive! It can be as simple as a cheap baby pool filled with water balloons! Here’s how to create the best outdoor water fun on a budget and backyard water fun without a pool — the best backyard water activities for kids and family.
Try these water games at home…
Baby pool play for all ages.
Before you do anything else, buy a baby pool. for your water activities backyard ideas And, it doesn’t matter how old (or young) your kids are, little pools are awesome for kids of all ages! They’re not just for little kids — you can play tons of games with water with pools for little kids!
You can use a kiddie pool for so many fun things other than just sitting a baby in during the summer months and it’s a lot of fun in the summer heat for all ages!
Plus, baby pools are super cheap for fun in the sun!
Creative uses for baby pools:
- Water ball pit
- Beach party feet soaker (getting just your feet wet cools you down significantly!) – get more fun baby pool beach party ideas here.
- Fill it with water beads for some sensory play
- Water balloon holder
- Use it to refill water guns
- Place all different sizes of sponges in the filled pool and use them to throw at each other (it’s way more awesome than it sounds)
- Add in an inflatable water slide
- Fill it with water and just put a bunch of different water toy options around the pool
- Fill it with water, a little sand, and colored rocks and let the kids “mine for gold” using their beach sand sifters.
Just trust us on this. Pools for babies are some of the best ways to have fun in the summer!
Make a DIY garden hose car wash.
Make a DIY kiddie car wash that your kids can run through or drive their favorite trikes, bikes, or riding toys through.
Also, put out buckets of water with big sponges and also towels.
This will become a favorite for kids water toys and kids will have hours of fun with their own mini waterpark car wash!
It’s also a fantastic way to get kids to clean their muddy or dirty toys off while having some outdoor fun!
Play with sprinklers.
Remember summer days with kids water sprinklers?
Sprinklers for kids are a must-have items for backyard water fun because you can do so many things with them.
- Run through sprinklers
- Play sprinkler tag.
- Put your sprinkler on or near your trampoline.
- Have a water tug of war in the sprinklers.
- Get a rotating sprinkler for jumping over the sprinkler stream.
- Check out a trampoline water whirl!
SUMMER TEEN TIP / SUMMER TWEEN TIP: We got this unicorn sprinkler a couple of years ago and the tweens and teens loved it! It got so much use, so it’s a great choice for that age group if you’re looking for activities with water for older kids!
Have a water balloons bash.
Backyard water fun MUST include water balloons and games for water balloons.
One of our favorites are the multi-fill ones and we always keep them on-hand for summer fun and ideas your kids will love this summer — even fun teen water play!
A great thing about water balloons is that all ages have fun with them!
These can be water balloon games for adults, teens, and some even for toddlers! This is one of those backyard summer fun ideas that everyone loves.
- Have a water balloon fight.
- Have water balloon cannons contests.
- Hang water balloons all around trees, across a clothesline, or on a playset and play water balloon piñata. (These are great water games for teenagers and water games for adults, too! One of my favorite ideas for water games backyard!)
- Play stomp the water balloons. The person who stomps the most within a specific amount of time wins.
- See how long you can toss a water balloon in the air before you drop it.
ALSO CHECK OUT MORE SUMMER FUN IDEAS: Fun Summer Activities For Teenager Parties and Teen Summer Games
Make a DIY homemade slip and slide.
Up for a DIY slide project or backyard splash pads as one of the most fun things to do in your backyard?
The great thing about making a slip and slide is that it’s fun for all ages (even fun outdoor water activities for adults and outdoor play for teens who don’t like to be outside)! And, you can use it for all kinds of games water ideas!
Add these inflatables at the end of your slip n slide for super fun water slide games.
If your kids don’t like slip-n-slides, this homemade water slide also makes a great DIY splash pad for little ones (just add some fun toys).
Not up for DIY? CHECK OUT THESE WATER SLIDES FOR BACKYARDS / DIY SPLASH PADS FOR BACKYARDS
Play backyard water games.
- Play water balloon corn hole as a family backyard water game: using a regular cornhole game, try to get the water balloon into the hole without bursting it. (Or, for a variation, use small, wet sponges!)
- Play squirt gun “LASER” tag using these vests and squirt guns.
- Have super squirter wars with different water blaster types.
- Play Hydro Zoom Ball. (This is a fun idea for summer teen games or tween water games!)
Create a backyard water carnival.
Make a carnival come to life in your backyard … using water games! Be sure to give out fun prizes to winners like colorful beach sunglasses, beach towels, or even beach balls.
- Instead of a dunk tank, play throw the wet sponge at a face. Trade out who gets to be “the face.”
- Toss balloons into a bucket for prizes. (Or, have a timed contest where teams see who can get colored balloons in the same colored bucket without busting the water balloon.)
- Put the hose or sprinkler on the trampoline or slide for your water ride! (Seriously, you’ll be surprised how streams of water on a trampoline is fun, but be careful and add rules for jumping!)
- Fill a baby pool or plastic storage bin with water and float rubber duckies for the duck pull. Don’t forget to write numbers on the bottom! Let each number correspond to a specific prize.
- Fish for prizes using a fun kid’s fishing set like this and your mini pool. (I still love this as fun water toys ideas for little swimming pools!)
- Set up a squirt gun shooting gallery and use any backyard water toy or Nerf Super Soaker to “shoot” down different objects.
- Need tween or tween backyard water ideas? Get a dart set and attach water balloons to a huge piece of cardboard for the throwing darks at balloons game. They’ll love this water gaming idea for creative balloon water games!
- Don’t forget about a place to rest! Fill the baby pool with water and place lawn chairs around it for those who just want water hang time.
Let us know what do you do on a hot day outside with water and and different ways your family stays cool in the summer and we’ll add it to our water fun list for little to no extra cost summer activities.
MORE SUMMER IDEAS: Frugal Family Summer Bucket List To Do This Year
You don’t need an in-ground pool do have fun in the summer or to have fun in the water!