Preschoolers love to be outside. Finding enjoyable outdoor activities for kids during the hot, sticky summer months can be challenging. When the thermometer rises, look for activities that include water play in order to keep kids cool while outside.
Playing with water provides so much more than just outdoor activities for kids to cool down during the summer months. For young children, water is a safe, easy, and accessible learning material that provides interesting sensory experiences that encourage important learning and growth. Playing with water can work to develop fine motor skills, build coordination, and increase spatial awareness. And, best of all, playing with water is so much fun! After just a few minutes of set up, children often enjoy spending long stretches of time playing and exploring with water.
Set up a water table by using shallow plastic tubs or containers set directly on the ground or placed on top of a low, outdoor table. Let your and your child’s creativity, imagination, and curiosity guide your summer fun.
10 Outdoor Activities for Kids in the Summer
1- Scoop Ice: Add ice to water in a water table or bin. Encourage your child to stir the water and scoop the ice with a ladle, slotted spoon, or colander. They might add the ice to a cup, bowl, or other container as they play. They might even pretend to serve you ice cream!
2- Squeeze Sponges: Give your child a variety of soft, clean, dry sponges and a bowl or container of water. Encourage them to experiment by putting the sponges into the water. Invite them to squeeze the sponges. Notice together that when you squeeze the sponge hard, the water comes out faster. When you squeeze softly, the water comes out more slowly.
3- Smell Scents: Add lemon or flower petals to water for a multi-sensory experience. Just like the ice cubes, encourage your child to transfer the fruit and flowers between containers. Invite them to smell the scented water.
4- Pour Water: Give your child a variety of different sized cups. You might include plastic measuring cups, pitchers, or even a plastic tea set. Invite your child to pour water from one container to another. Talk together about how different sized cups hold different amounts of water.
5- Create Animal Habitats: Fill a small bowl or container with plastic toy animals along with rocks, grass, sticks, and other natural items. For water animals, fill the entire container with water. For land animals, find a way to make a small lake within the container. Pretend to move the animal through the habitat, and use the activity as a springboard for talking about where different animals live.
6- Wash Dolls, Plastic Dishes, and Toy Cars: Use plastic dolls, toy dishes, or toy cars to set up a washing station. Include soap along with small brushes and washcloths, and invite your child to pretend to give a baby a bath, wash dishes, or wash cars at a car wash.
7- Build Rivers: Use long strips of aluminum foil to make pathways for water. Explore what happens as you raise up one end of the foil, or add a slow stream of water from a hose. You might consider adding a boat and trying to have it move along the make-believe river.
8- Run through a Sprinkler: Turn on a sprinkler, and invite your children to run, leap, and twirl through the water. For added excitement, join them! Running, laughing, and playing in a sprinkler with family is a perfect summer memory.
9- Visit a Spray Ground or Splash Pad: Visit a local water play area, often called a spray ground or splash pad. These water features offer a fun, safe option for young kids rather than adventuring to a larger pool.
10- Make Frozen Treats: Work together to make delicious, frozen treats for all to enjoy on a hot day. Be sure to start early in the day to make sure there is enough time for the treats to freeze. You might make slushy drinks by freezing juice in ice cube trays and then mixing the ice cubes with more unfrozen juice in a blender. You could make fruit popsicles by blending fruit with juice and freezing them in popsicle molds or plastic cups with a popsicle stick.
Did you enjoy these ideas for outdoor activities for kids in the Summer? You may also like this article, “Sing, Paint, & Jump: The Importance of Music, Art, and Movement for Young Children.”