Water Activities for Children
To avoid the risks
associated with combining young children in group care and pools/lakes
here are some ideas for using outdoor water play during the summer months.
Even with these safer activities, adults need to have "vigilance,
vigilance, vigilance." As we all know, children can drown in as
little as 2 inches of water within seconds.
With the hose nozzle on mist, set up a drive through
tricycle wash with sponges, mild soap, and towels.
To show how fast and strong firefighters were, they would
get together in the summer for friendly competition. One of the games
was to use the fire hoses to push a ball into another team's net, thereby
scoring a goal. With young children, the competition may not be necessary.
A goal area, a large lightweight ball (beach balls work well), and a
hose can be enough to challenge children. Note: taking turns with the
hose may be difficult for some children.
Sprinkler from the Top
We have all stubbed our toes jumping through the summer
sprinkler. This activity puts the sprinkler up out of toes' reach. Using
a tree branch, fence, clothesline, or the top of a climbing structure,
secure the sprinkler up high. The activity area will be larger than
if the sprinkler was on the ground, allowing more children to play in
Inexpensive and durable, raingutters from the local hardware
store need a little edge smoothing before using. The edges on many raingutters
are not finished so they can be sharp and cause cuts and scraps if not
sanded down first. Fortunately this is an easy task. Using a rough grain
sand paper (80 - 120 grit works perfect) rub the edges of the gutter.
That's it. Now with a water source, kids can build waterfalls, cascades,
and ramps. Water, matchbox® cars, dirt, peastone, small boats, or
any loose playground materials will be used to test gravity's pull.
You may want to cut some of the ten foot sections into 2 and 5 feet
for easier handling.
Homemade Water Slides
Having smiling young children run to the edge of a Slip
n Slide® as they dive onto their bellies only happens in commercials.
Bruised knees and bloody noses are far more common in my experience.
Homemade water slides are better suited for our younger slippers. Place
a plastic tarp on a hill. Put the hose down from the top. With the child
sitting feet first, they can slip down to the end. I have added a mild
soap for some faster trips to the bottom. You need to be careful not
to put the tarp over rock or sharp objects.
Wading Pool Transformed
This activity puts the pool toys within reach without
the children being in the water. Like with the raingutters, first smooth
the plastic edges of the wading pool with some course sandpaper. Next
have categorized buckets of water toys (i.e. boats, containers, balls,
mild soap and wire whisks/egg beaters) near the pools. Allow the children
to dump and play with the toys while sitting on the outside of the pool.
Being sprayed with a hose isn't very much fun for many
of us. Often the water is cold and hits us in the face. We can still
get wet without the panic of being hosed down. Using the mist setting,
point the hose up into the air. Now a gentle film of cooling water can
cool us without alarm.
After the water facet has been running for a while, it
often gets too cold to be comfortable. Adults may consider using additional
lengths of hose and running them over driveways or other hot surfaces
to warm the water. I have put a hundred feet of hose up on the roof
to get warmed by the sun before being used in water play.
WARNING: When the hose is shut off, the water left in the hose
will quickly become too hot to use. Adults should always test the water
temperature before using it with children. This means letting the water
run for several minutes, then testing to see if the temperature is comfortable
enough to use with young children.
Have some other favorite
alternatives to swimming for summer water play? E-mail suggestions.
Some will be included in the next revision of this article. info@NHWaterSafety.com
Book List for Summer Activities
The Kids Summer Games
Jane Drake Ann Love Heather Collins (Illustrator)
Format: Paperback, 175pp.
Publisher: Kids Can Press, Limited
Pub. Date: March 1998
The Kids' Summer Handbook
Jane Drake Heather Collins (Illustrator) With Ann Love
Format: Paperback, 1st ed., 208pp.
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Pub. Date: March 1994
Edition Desc: 1st American ed
Summer Smarts for Cool
Kids: 101 Fantastic and Fun Learning Activities to Help Kids Beat the
Format: Paperback, 288pp.
Publisher: Prima Communications, Inc.
Pub. Date: May 2002
Summer Fun!: 60 Activities
for a Kid-Perfect Summer
Michael P. Kline Susan Staff Williamson (Editor)
Format: Paperback, 160pp.
Publisher: Williamson Publishing Company
Pub. Date: April 1999
The Best Summer Ever
: A Parents' Guide
Joan M. Bergstrom
Format: Paperback, 112pp.
Publisher: Tricycle Press
Pub. Date: February 1995
A Ladybug's Life
John Himmelman Melissa Stewart (Editor)
Format: Paperback, 32pp.
Publisher: Scholastic Library Publishing
Pub. Date: August 1998
Busy Bees Summer: Fun
for Two's and Three's
Elizabeth McKinnon Jean Warren (Editor) Gayle Bittinger
Format: Paperback, 136pp.
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Children's Publishing
Pub. Date: May 1995
300 Three Minute Games:
Quick and Easy Activities for 2-5 Year Olds
Jackie Silberg Cheryl Kirk Noll
Format: Paperback, 192pp.
Publisher: Gryphon House, Incorporated
Pub. Date: August 1997
The Giant Encyclopedia
of Theme Activities for Children 2 to 5: Over 600 Favorite Activities
Created by Teachers for Teachers
Kathy Charner (Editor) Rebecca B. Schoenfliess (Illustrator)
Format: Paperback, 511pp.
Publisher: Gryphon House, Incorporated
Pub. Date: July 1993
This workshop is provided with funding
from DCYF / Child Development Bureau