Here are our top 10 ideas for fun water games to play with your child – and most can be played indoors, too, so don’t let a few clouds put you off!
Does it float, or does it sink?
Fill a big bowl or bucket with water and collect up a variety of objects, some that float, and some that sink. Then your child has to guess the result for each object. Some ideas for floating items include fruit, such as apples and oranges, ping pong balls, feathers, or tennis balls. Good sinkers are stones, coins, or marbles.
Fill a small bucket with water, and ask your child what they think will happen if you spin it around in a full vertical circle – i.e. so that it’s upside down for some of the time. Most children guess that the water will fall out, and are completely astonished when you spin the bucket and it all stays inside! They can then have a go themselves – remember that the bucket has to spin really fast, or the water will start to spill.
On really warm days, why not move bathtime outdoors? You can add a splash of bubble bath to warmish water in a small paddling pool and get your child all soapy and clean in the garden. They’ll be delighted with the novelty of it, and it turns an everyday chore into a fun activity.
Learn about icebergs
Icebergs are amazing and young children can get a whole load of fun out of a lump of ice! Freeze disposable plastic cups full of water overnight, but remember not to fill all the way to the top as water expands. In the morning, cut the plastic cup away from your block of ice to set your iceberg free, and find out what happens when you submerge it in a jug of water. Will it sink or float? You can chat to your child about how part of the iceberg stays above the water, but even more below, and why this is scary for ships sailing in icy seas.
More iceberg fun! This time, when you freeze your cupful of water, pop some small plastic toys in there too. When the water is frozen, the toys will be captured inside the ice. Your child can then play with the iceberg outside and see how long it takes for the toys to be set free.
Make a ‘baby’ by filling a balloon with water, tying it, and drawing a face on with a marker pen. Your little one can play with it, take it for walks around the garden and see how long it lasts until it pops! Just keep your fingers crossed they don’t get TOO attached…
Water the plants
On hot days, you’re going to need to water your plants in the morning or late afternoon, whether they’re in pots or in flower beds. So why not take advantage of having a child around, and get a little extra help? Children seem to love using watering cans, and small, light ones are readily and cheaply available, often as part of a bucket-and-spade set. If you don’t have a watering can, you can fill up empty water bottles, or for even more squirty fun, an old spray gun.
Pouring down on me
Your child will be thrilled with the idea of pouring water onto you, so try a game where they have a plastic cup full of water, and you lie on the ground holding a cup of the same size on your forehead. Their challenge is to get as much of their water as they can into your cup – but of course it’s more fun if they get as much as possible all over your face!
Water pistol tag
Just like traditional tag, except the chasers are armed with water pistols, and if the runner gets squirted, then they’re it! Supermarket toy sections are full of small, cheap water pistols at this time of year, or you can order online.
Combining skipping with water makes it even more fun, but you’ll need two adults for this game, or one adult and one older child. The two of you twirl the rope, and your child has to jump, while holding a cupful of water. The challenge is to see how much water is left in the cup at the end of one minute. This is a great game to play with a group of pre-schoolers, as you can line up the cups at the end and see who is the winner with the most water left. Alternatively, keep playing until only one player has water left.
By Siobhan Godwood