Water games entertain children of all ages. Whether you have only a hose, a bucket of water or a whole swimming pool, you can mix structured and unstructured play and water activities to amp up the fun factor. Young children often find water play calming. Older children use water and swimming to sharpen their skills, while teenagers see water as a setting for socializing. No matter what water fun you plan, provide a variety of simple floating, fishing, bobbing and tossing tools to integrate into games.
Some water games modify sports to a pool, such as pool volleyball or floating Frisbee. Team water games, such as relay races, may involve buckets, sponges and cups for filling and emptying water. Cooperative water games may involve diving for objects at the bottom of the pool or seeing how long the group can balance on floating mattresses. One classic water game, Marco Polo, has one person with eyes shut calling out “Marco” and trying to tag the rest of the children, following their voices when they answer “Polo.”
Water activities tend toward lively games that encourage full participation from every player. Games, like water balloon fights, shooting targets with water guns or painting playground equipment with water, allow everyone to play simultaneously rather than waiting for a turn. The principal goal of any water game involves, of course, getting wet or getting others wet.
You can adapt many traditional playground games and sports to incorporate water. Play Drip, Drip, Splash instead of Duck, Duck, Goose. Have the person squeeze a sponge over the tagged person’s head to start the chase. Elect a person “it” to shoot squirt guns at people for water tag. Use a beach ball or a water balloon to play Hot Potato. Play the Hokey Pokey in the sprinklers or Ring Around the Rosie in the swimming pool.
While playground games entertain children for about 15 to 20 minutes, water games have the potential to entertain children for longer time frames, up to half an hour or 45 minutes, depending upon the activity and the age of the children. Keep the fun going by tossing in spray bottles, inner tubes, buckets, bubbles or floating objects into the game.
Water activities demand heightened supervision. Children slip and slide more easily, and pool games require swimming ability. Apply sunscreen regularly, as more active water play makes the sunscreen wash off more quickly.