Nothing beats a fun water day outside on a hot summer afternoon. Finding activities that are both safe and entertaining is important with busy toddlers and preschoolers. These outdoor water activities for toddlers and preschoolers will keep your little ones running around and also give you a few minutes to rest and relax.
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Here in the southeast, we still have several more months of hot weather, especially in the afternoons. This means there are plenty of opportunities left to get out and play in the backyard.
I don’t know why it is, but children love any activity involving water. Both of my kids will stay outside 4x as long as what they are doing has water in it.
Are Outdoor Water Activities for Toddlers Worth the Effort to Set Up and Clean Up?
One of my biggest concerns with water activities was the potential for mess and the amount of time to set-up and clean-up. I will admit, it takes a few minutes to pull out the garden hose and fill up a kiddie pool with water. But, if that makes my kids happy for nearly an hour, it is well worth it.
To worry less about the mess, I change my kids into swimsuits and they run around in the backyard barefoot.
For clean-up, I do find it helpful to pair outdoor time with bath time right after. My kids have learned that when water time is over, they take a few minutes to help me straighten up the backyard and then we head straight to a bath. Since the afternoons are the hottest and they are usually bathed in the evenings, this works out great.
Are Outdoor Water Activities for Toddlers Expensive?
Besides the time required, my other concern was the cost. I was worried it would be expensive to buy a bunch of water toys to keep the kids entertained.
I have found that water toys can be bought at any price point. While a water table is a bigger investment, you can buy kiddie pools for about $10.
Recommended Items for Outdoor Water Activities
A few simple items are all that you need to set up many days of fun outdoor water time with your toddler. Here are the general items that I recommend:
- Water table
- Kiddie pool
- Splash pad
- Water squirters
- A few of their favorite water-safe toys from inside
There are a wide variety of water tables on the market. Some are simple with a place to add water and a sand area, and others have waterfalls and additional features.
The one linked above is the one my kids have loved. You can separate water and sand, it comes with an umbrella, and also a few toys. This water table is also a great size for more than one kid to play.
For my kids, they love to use both sides with water and for me to add dish soap so that they can play with bubbles. Add a couple squirts of dish soap while you are filling up the water table, and it will create major bubbles! They will bring some of their toys from inside that are water-safe, like my daughter’s Paw Patrol pups, and wash them right up!
A kiddie pool is one of the most basic, but most fun, water activities for toddlers! These are cheap, and can be easily stored during the winter months.
Both of my kids as young toddlers did not enjoy sitting in the pool itself for some reason, but they would fill up buckets and cups and use the water to play. Now at 4, my daughter loves to sit in the pool and splash.
One word of caution is to always supervise your little ones around a kiddie pool as there is always a drowning risk for young children, even in shallow water.
The splash pad was a huge hit at our house this summer. Somehow I forgot that we had a splash pad until about halfway through the summer, so when I brought it out my kids thought they were having a party!
These splash pads are the perfect size for toddlers and they fill up with a small amount of water inside to make almost a mini kiddie pool on their own. Toddlers love playing in and around the splash pad.
Water squirters add an additional element of fun, especially if you have more than one child. These water squirters are marketed for older kids, however, my kids could easily use them on their own once I showed them a couple times.
These are a cheap toy to have around if neighbors or friends come over to play, and you can also take them to the neighborhood pool. I will warn you that if you take them to the pool, I do guarantee that within 15 seconds you will have to have a conversation about not shooting strangers in the face with water. Please tell me it’s not just my kids.
Who doesn’t love bubbles? While not technically a water toy, bubbles are made up of mostly water, so I’m gonna count them.
A water day with my kids always includes bubbles along with anything else they are doing. We love to use bubble wands, as even my 1-year-old can make good size bubbles with them. He also then dumps the bubbles out, so make sure to stock up on a couple bottles of bubble solution to get you through the summer. If someone knows of a bubble wand that also doesn’t spill, please let me know!
My toddler and preschooler also love a bubble machine going while we are outside. My daughter will try to shoot the bubbles down with her water gun and my son chases them around the yard. The bubble machine looking like a fish is also so cute!
A Few Favorite Toys From Inside
This right here is what can keep water day from getting boring after a few afternoons. As I mentioned earlier, my daughter loves to bring her Paw Patrol characters out to the water table.
I will bring different figurines and characters out for them to play with to keep it interesting. I will bring a dinosaur set out one day, Hot Wheels another day, and Little People characters the next time. These toys help with pretend play, which I talk about in my post about educational toys for toddlers. And remember that bath toys can be brought outside also!
There are lots of indoor toys that are safe to use with a water table or kiddie pool. Another bonus is knowing that their toys get cleaned every once in a while.
One more toy that my kids love playing with during outdoor water time is the Little Tikes First Sink and Stove. It is so cute and you can fill up the sink with water and they can get it to squirt out the top like a real functioning sink. It even comes with some dishes and utensils. We keep this in our outdoor storage container in the backyard with the other outdoor toys because it is perfect for water play.
These outdoor water activities will be sure to entertain your toddler for a long time. It helps with the afternoon cranky hour after nap time and wears them out for bedtime. Next time you are looking for something to do to fill the time between nap and dinner, put your toddler in a swimsuit and head to your backyard for some water time!
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Comment below to tell us your favorite outdoor water activity with toddlers.