11 Inexpensive Summer Water Play Activities For Kids



As soon as the summer heat and humidity arrives in Canada the kids  just want  water play activities to get wet to cool off.

There are lots of things to do in the water as long as you have a creative imagination however most kids just want to get wet.

We were trying to come up with new water activities for our son this summer since he is turning 5 and loves more action-packed fun.

I was joking with our son a couple of weeks before school ended and said that he needs to make friends in the neighbourhood who have a pool. 

Having a pool is nice but it’s also costly and takes time each season to open, close and attend to.

Essentially you become a pool guy or a pool woman if you want a pristine, clean pool.

We don’t own an inground pool or above ground pool but we do have a kiddie pool that our entire family fits in, and it’s lots of fun.

Why water play is important for children?

Just as water is relaxing for adults it is as much therapeutic for children which is why getting your child involved with various water play activities will benefit them greatly.

Water play also encourages the development of gross and fine motor skills with hand and eye coordination.

These skills are critical for their little growing mind and body and regular water play is a fun activity they won’t turn down.

Our son loves to play with all sorts of empty containers and bottles that we collect from inside the house during the summer.

Even during the winter, he’s got a bath full of buckets and other toys that he can use to fill, empty and learn the basics of floating and sinking.

Cognitive Development Skills and Water Play

Cognitive development is also a large benefit of water-based activities for children as it allows them to problem solve. 

What would happen if we filled this bottle to the top and squeezed it? 

It would explode like a volcano with lava shooting out. That’s what our son would say as it encourages his imagination.

Cognitive development builds learning skills based on process sensory information to help them further make decisions. 

They allow a child to analyze and compare situations and encourages them to remember what they’ve done which promotes the cause and effect part of the brain.

Our son has sensory processing disorder so it’s very important for us to build these cognitive skills for him.

  1. Attention Skills
  2. Thinking Skills
  3. Memory Skills

Stages of Development In A Child

When our son has friends over during the summer water play activities helps to build his communication skills and build his social skills.

It’s important to have other kids around for regular play dates to build relationships with other children.

You might also find that kids trigger their creative side when engaging in water play activities and other children.

Our son develops weird and wonderful ways of doing things sometimes but it works by stimulating their imagination.

There are 5 stages of Child development many of which our children are learning at the same time;

  • Physical Development
  • Intellectual Development
  • Emotional Development
  • Social Development
  • Moral Development

As parents, it’s our role to help bring the best out in our children by allowing them the time to be children and to have fun learning.

10 Inexpensive Summer Water Play Activities For Children

What is water play activity?

Water play is where children and adult engage in fun games and activities that include water.

It’s not necessary that you will get soaked from head to toe as some water-based activities encourage other developmental skills as described above.

Some of the best water activities are inexpensive to create plus the cost of water unless you are heading off to the beach or a splash pad.

In fact, I had no idea there were so many water activities near me that we could visit absolutely free.

Well, our city taxes fund them but for the most part, you’re not pulling any other cash out of pocket.

Let’s explore 11 fun water day activities you can do with your children this summer.

Water Play At The Beach

water play activity at the beach kids

Going to the beach whether it be a short drive or if you have one in your hometown is a great way to get the kids involved with sensory play.

There are many benefits to sand and water play especially for kids with sensory processing disorder like our son.

Water day activities for pre-schoolers, toddlers and older children allow them to play in the sand, find rocks and seashells and dip their feet in the water.

Our son was and still is a huge fan of the beach and he loves to visit local waterfalls in Hamilton, Ontario where he can touch the water.

Beaches are free to attend apart from any petrol that you use to get there but it’s a fun day out for the entire family.

You can find lots of beach toys at the dollar store as well so don’t rush out to spend money where it is not needed.

Pack a lunch picnic or plan to make a full day at the beach with a BBQ lunch and dinner and you and your kids will be ready for bed early.

Fun in the sun!

Water Play In The Sprinkler

water play activities sprinkler

You can buy fun kids sprinklers or just a regular sprinkler will do because kids just want to jump in and get wet.

If you’ve ever watched kids playing in the sprinkler you will notice they tend to create their own games or challenges with friends. 

Our son also loves to throw his cars through the sprinkler as if he was in a water monster truck jam.

Water Play With Water Balloons

water balloons

I’m the old school type where I would fill a balloon with water and tie it off but those days are long gone.

With the invention of the bunch O balloons where you attach a nozzle to your hose and it fills hundreds of water balloons at once then ties them off is the bomb.

You can’t get water balloon fun any easier than that and you can find them at the dollar store or we’ve seen them at Canadian Tire, Walmart and Costco for a reasonable price.

If you don’t want to splash out on new-age water balloons stick to old-school ways and fill each one yourself for the best bargain.

The best part is that water balloons are fun for the entire family!

water balloons bunch of balloons water play activities

Splash Water Park

splash water park

In our city, there are many free water parks with water play activities that include a splash pad.

A splash pad is a water centre for kids and adults with sprinklers, fountains, buckets and nozzles that shoot water.

The best part is that every splash pad located in our city is free which means you don’t have to pay an entrance fee to get in.

You can also pack some of your child’s favourite water toys to bring along such as a bucket, squirt gun or sponges.

The great part about splash pads is that you don’t need to worry about lifeguards as they aren’t necessary like you would at the beach.

We like to make an afternoon fun day at the splash pad and pack a lunch.

Slip and Slide Water Play

slip and slide water play activities for kids

Slip and slide is a classic water play activity that you can purchase in a box at just about any big box store or online for a reasonable price.

If you don’t want to go that route you can find a plastic sheet and peg it into the ground so it doesn’t hurt little toes.

Many parents like to add soap to the slip and slide and some have water that shoots out the sides or you can just have a sprinkler hoover over it to keep it wet.

The kids will run and then slide on the tarp and away they go like a rocket through the water.

Blow-up Pool

kiddie pool water play activities

The best time to buy a summer inflatable pool is at the end of a season which we typically do.

The only downfall to these types of pools is that they tend to rip so you’re buying a new one each year.

A new kiddie pool on Amazon Canada will only cost you around $20 which is reasonable in comparison to big box stores.

If you opt for the hard plastic pools you will need to find storage space for them but they tend to last longer.

The past two years we’ve picked up inflatable pools that are large enough to fit our entire family for 50% off from Shoppers Drug Mart.

Funny thing is our neighbour who doesn’t have an inground pool or kids does the same thing to cool off in the summer. Ha!

Water Table Water Play

water table water play activities

From the time our son was 1, we bought a second-hand water table on Kijiji for $10 and he loved it.

You can purchase a water table relatively inexpensive brand new for under $50 which will last you a few seasons.

If you keep it in decent shape you can sell it for $10 or $20 bucks and get some of the money back.

Every summer we would fill the water table up with bubbles and he would spend a good hour with his cars and other sensory toys in the water.

Bubble Machine

bubbles water play summer activities

I haven’t met one kid who doesn’t love playing with water bubbles in the summer.

At first, we would buy bubbles at the dollar store but then progressed to something bigger as he got older.

I think the transition worked well since he is far more active with the bubble machine than he was with the bubble wand.

We bought a bubble machine which isn’t too pricey at $20 but offers lots of fun for kids.

Water Soakers

water soaker water play activitieswater soaker water play activities

No matter if you go to the beach, splash pad or back-yard pool party there will always be kids with super soakers.

These gadgets get filled with water and the kids go around and spray water on their friends in a game of tag.

I’ve also known adults to engage in this fun activity because we are kids are heart too.

You can buy this 6 pack of water soakers for only $20.99 on Amazon Canada which is a great deal.

Muddy Car Wash

muddy car wash water play activity

Going to the car wash is fun for just about everyone but this car wash is different.

In the summer we get a large rectangle bin and fill it with soap and water for our son who loves cars and trucks.

He gets a cloth from the house and shines all of his cars with the soap and plays with them too.

This is his way of making sure he takes good responsbility for his vehicles which I find hilarious but smart at the same time.

It’s a lesson he will use well into adulthood when he starts buying things with his own money.

Over at Happy Hooligans they’ve created a fun muddy car wash for kids that every kid would love.

Water Sponge Bombs

sponge toss game summer water play activities

Since our child thrives on sensory type water play activities he enjoys playing with sponges especially in the bath and shower. 

During the summer months, we go to the dollar store and buy about 10 different sponges and place them in a bucket filled with bubbles.

He enjoys filling the sponge with water, sinking it and squeezing the water out.

His friends love it too and they make it a game of chasing each other around with them or a sponge toss water game.

Water Play Is For Life

Water play activities for kids are inexpensive but also keep kids busy during the summer months.

It’s important to remember that kids want to learn and inviting them to be creative even in your own backyard with friends will help them build the skills they need to grow.

Oh and remember, water play is for life whether you are child or adult so get out there and get wet, it’s summer time!

Discussion: What other inexpensive summer water play activities do you create with your kids? Share your comments below.

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