Easy games to cool off with this summer
When the weather is scorching and the humidity is weighing you down there is nothing better than cooling off and getting creative with some good old-fashioned water games.
These are some our favourite activities using water and bubbles (seriously – who doesn’t love bubbles?!) that are cheap, don’t require a lot of new equipment and can be played at home (depending on how brave you are – we take no responsibility for any spills), your outdoor space, the park or on the beach.
Bubble snakes are all the rage thanks to a couple of viral videos. Kids seem to be fascinated with the phenomena and they’re super easy to make! Cut the bottom off of an empty clean plastic bottle and cover the newly cut hole with a piece of fabric (wash clothes and socks seem to be the most effective), keep it in place with a rubber band or duct tape. Dip the fabric-covered end of the bottle into your bubble solution. Blow into the mouth of the bottle and witness the bubble snakes grow! Add a few drops of food colouring to the fabric to create bright and bold snakes. Just remember to clearly instruct kids to blow into the bottle rather than sucking.
Create a multicolour masterpiece with your little one using the same recycled bottle blower you used to make bubble snakes. But to create less dense bubbles, replace the fabric with some sort of netting material (fishnet tights, the netting used to wrap fruit). Paint bubbles can stain, so lay plenty of newspaper or an old cloth down for an easy clean up. In a large bowl create a mixture of three parts bubble solution and one part liquid watercolour or food colouring. Dip your bubble blower into the solution and blow the bubbles on to the paper. We’ve found that the solution works best with watercolour paper or a canvas. Repeat the process with different colours and you’ll have some trippy, tie-dye style artwork ready to hang on the wall. Again, remind kids to blow and not suck into the bottle blower! This is a great activity if you have lots of kids (and space!) to get involved, like in this example.
There are plenty of simple fun bubble games that can keeps kids endlessly entertained: competitions to blow the biggest bubble, who can pop the most bubbles, popping bubbles in different ways – clapping, poking, stamping etc. But one of our favourite games that always guarantees laughter is a bubble race. Have two competitors go head to head as they try to each blow a bubble across a designated finish line. The finish line can be imaginary, or made out of household bits and bobs, or get official and use a ribbon or tape. Contestants have to be both speedy and gentle at the same time to win.
Knock-Down Water Bottles
Fill a set of uniform clear plastic bottles up with water coloured with food dye. Use a different colour for each bottle to create a DIY set of colourful bowling pins. You can even build a pyramid using some cardboard and practice aiming and throwing by knocking the towers down with a ball or bean ball or even a wet sponge. This is a good game to start your water play with as afterwards you can crack the bottles open and use the water for other games.
This game is super simple but is great if you have a couple of kids to entertain on a hot summer’s day. Give each kid a sponge and two buckets – one filled with water and one empty. Explain that they need to transfer the water from one bucket to another using only the sponge. Have a prize ready for whoever does it the fastest. Increase the difficulty for older kids and place the buckets far apart so they have to run between the two.
Water Balloon Catch
Prepare by filling a bucket with water balloons. If you want to avoid plastic or don’t have balloons on hand, you can use wet sponges as an alternative (but they’re not as effective).
In pairs, throw a water balloon back and forth and after each catch take a step backwards until the balloon inevitably bursts.
Frozen Toys & Ice Cube Painting
Ice cubes are an easy way of introducing sensory play to younger children. Freeze some small toys and treasures into ice cube trays and have kids (age 3 and up) use their warm hands to try and melt the cubes until their prizes emerges. If your little one is an art lover, add food colouring to water (or use safe water-based paints) and freeze into cubes for temporary handheld watercolour paints. You can even add popsicle sticks to make it easier for little hands to hold.
Shower Curtain Mini-Pool
If you’re at the beach, bring an old shower curtain with you. Dig a shallow hole in the sand and line it with the plastic material, grab your buckets, fill it up with water and voila! You have your own mini pool for a little one. Allowing you to stay dry while your water baby cools off in his or her own private pool.
Duck, Duck, Splash!
As you can imagine, this game is an elevated version of the playground classic Duck, Duck, Goose! This is an excellent way to cool down if you have a large group and are looking to have a slightly more contained water fight (emphasis on “slightly” here). The only difference to the usual rules of Duck, Duck, Goose! is that whoever is “it” will carry a container of water (a cup, a bottle, a water balloon) and unceremoniously dump the water on whomever is called “Goose!”. Adults can join the circle, but be warned – the kids are definitely going to take full advantage of this so prepare for a soaking.
Read more: Sensory Play: Getting Your Hands Dirty