Summer. For kids, it’s the best time of year. School is out, the weather is warm and there are plenty of things to do to occupy their time… right?

When the really warm weather hits, kids (and parents, too) enjoy trips to the pool or lake. When that isn’t possible, they need to make their own water-related fun at home – usually with some variation of a portable, inflatable, or plastic pool. For parents, these pools are a nightmare. They are a cesspool for bacteria, a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and worst of all, kill your lawn.

We’ve compiled a list of summer water activities for your kids that won’t kill your lawn, but are still super fun:


Activities For Younger Kids and Toddlers:

  • Muddy Car Wash – Choose some toy cars to get good and dirty and hold a toy car wash.
  • Window Art – You’ll need a bucket of water, a paintbrush, and some foam shapes and animals. Have your kids stick the foam shapes on the patio window by “painting” water and using it as a safe, non-permanent adhesive.
  • Backyard Splash Pad – Don’t want a heavy, cumbersome pool in your backyard, but need a quick splash zone? Lay down a tarp to collect water and add all your kids’ favorite water toys and activities. After you are all done, just roll it up; this will save the grass, but can easily be rolled up to play with later.
  • Water Painting – Using a pail of water and some paintbrushes, “paint” designs, and pictures on the sidewalk. If you have leftover chalk from last summer (preferably the smaller chunks that won’t get used) have your kids experiment with mixing them will small amounts of water to make colorful pictures.

Activities For All Ages:

  • Pretend Coffee Shop – Utilize the sandbox and add sand, water, soap, and other materials for a pretend coffee shop
  • Dry, Dry. Wet – It’s Duck, Duck, Grey Duck, (or goose, if you’re not from Minnesota) but instead of tagging the person with your hand, squeeze a sponge of water on them!
  • Sponge Ball Fight – Water balloon fights are tons of fun and always a summer go-to, but if your kids get tired of filling up balloons (and you get tired of cleaning them off the grass) make sponge balls! You can reuse them over and over – try playing a wet game of baseball or catch – anything you can think of!
  • Water Limbo – This one is pretty simple. Instead of playing limbo with a stick, use a hose with a small nozzle. Just make sure the designated hose holder is trustworthy so that he or she doesn’t spray all the contestants!
  • Ice Cube Game– Add ice cubes to a large container (or use the tarp trick we mentioned earlier) and have players try and pick them up with their toes. Use a bucket full of chilly water for an added “degree” of difficulty, or assign teams to race each other.
  • Sponge Dodgeball – Using the sponge balls we described earlier, give each team buckets of water and use the sponges as sloppy dodge balls!
  • Sink the Ship – Tie a water balloon to each ankle of each player. Each player tries to pop everyone else’s balloons while keeping their own safe. Break into teams by using different colored balloons.

There are plenty more water activities available that won’t ruin your lush, summer lawn. What are your favorite summer water games? Comment below, we’d love to hear them!