Backyard Water Play


It’s never too hot for some good fun in the backyard. All you need is a hose.

By Sara Kendall

 

While a family’s backyard can be a year-round haven for outdoor fun, during the summer months, there will be days when it really is “too hot” to play outside. Your kids will be the first to announce this the minute you suggest they venture forth.

What to do? Turn their thinking around by adding water to the mix.

Here are five games sure to turn the backyard into an action-packed water park. After a few minutes with any one of these, the kids will forget how hot it is.

Water Balloon Toss

This is similar to a classic egg toss, but instead of a raw egg, participants toss water balloons back and forth. Two kids face each other about a foot apart and begin tossing a water-filled balloon to each other. After every to and fro, each child takes a step back, widening the space between them.

Successfully catching the balloon becomes trickier with each backwards step and finally a missed catch or awkward throw causes the balloon to break. For an odd number of kids, arrange them in a circle and toss the balloon between players. It will be more of a challenge than a competition.

When do they get wet? When they fill the balloons at the kitchen sink and then later when the balloon breaks.

Dribble, Dribble, Drench!

This is a damp version of the nursery school game called duck, duck, goose. Have the kids sit in a circle facing each other with a plastic bucket of water in the center. Whoever is IT takes a water-soaked sponge from the bucket and then walks around the outside of the circle holding the dribbling sponge over each player’s head.

“Dribble, dribble,” intones the child who is IT. And then, without warning, he or she says, “DRENCH!” and squeezes the sponge over someone’s head. Now it’s time to run around the circle and sit in the open space left by the drenched child before he tags IT. If tagged, IT is out. The drenched child is IT next.

The game progresses like this until there is one child remaining. The winner.

When do they get wet? By the end, everyone will be drenched!

Sprinkle Freeze Dance

All you need for this game is an oscillating sprinkler and some music. Turn up the music and everyone dances around the sprinkler trying not to get wet. When the music stops, the kids freeze in their spot. Anyone who gets hit by a jet of water at that moment must remain “frozen.” If they move before the music starts again, they are out.

Allow enough time for the sprinkler to make at least one whole a pass before stopping the music. Turn the music back on for another round and keep this up until there is only one left who isn’t wet. The winner!

When do they get wet? Are you kidding? Of course the winner stays dry as a bone (right!)

Water Limbo

This old game comes alive when a stream of water from the hose replaces the limbo pole. For a straight, steady stream, you will need a hose with a nozzle.

Each kid makes his or her way under the stream without touching the water, bending backwards as in traditional limbo. Lower the stream after all the children have made a single pass under it.

The water should be high enough so that players only have to arch their back at first. As the hose is lowered and the grass gets slippery, they have to bend lower and lower.

If you determine that the grass is too slippery (you can move around on the lawn to avoid this), change the rules and tell the kids to skirt the water by crawling like a baby, hopping like a frog, or slithering like a snake.

When do they get wet? They will get splashed as they duck under the water and move around on the wet grass.

Water Freeze Tag

Use a thoroughly rinsed dish soap bottle filled with plain water for this game of tag. Whoever is IT runs after the other kids, trying to tag them with a squirt of water from the bottle. When tagged, the child stands still and can only be “unfrozen” when a fellow player crawls under his legs.

When all the kids have been tagged, someone else is IT. Play until everyone has had a turn.

Word of warning: Instruct the children to aim below the shoulders. No one should be squirted in the face or, worse, an eye.

When do they get wet? When they’re squirted with water--and doing the squirting.

Games like these keep kids happy for hours. Be sure to slather on the sunscreen before the children hit the yard and if someone gets too pink, insist on a hat and a break in the shade. Be sure to have a pitcher of cold drinking water on hand for thirsty game players.

Supervise these games at first, although once your kids learn them, they won’t need coaching. Teach them to turn off the hose when they are not playing with it and never to waste water.

There is no reason for the kids to feel bored inside the house on very hot days. A little relief and a lot of fun are both to be found in their own backyard.

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Sara Kendall is a freelance writer and mother of two daughters.