I never thought I would say this, but I kind of miss the days when my daughter was younger. Yes, it was a lot to keep her entertained through all those long summer days, but it was also fun coming up with things to do. (She’s 13 now and definitely does not want my help in deciding what to do with her time.)
One of my favorite challenges was coming up with activities we could do outside when it was hot. There was a lot of water play (and ice play!) happening, which is great because it’s easy, fun, not all that messy, and you can do it with things you already have in the house.
Sure you can build or buy a water table if you want — Blitzy has collected a bunch of DIY water tables if you want to build your own — but I always just used a plastic storage bin on the ground or on a low wall outside.
What different kinds of water play can you do? There are all sorts of easy water play activities to choose from!
You can paint with water, like in this tip from Teaching Littles. You can do this on paper as shown or you can “paint” with water outdoors on the sidewalk, on a chalkboard, or experiment with other surfaces. Or try freezing liquid watercolors and painting with the ice cubes.
One easy water play activity my daughter really liked was washing doll clothes. This requires two tubs, one for soapy water and one for clear, and ideally some clothesline and a place to set it up outdoors for clothes to dry, but it’s so easy and actually useful (because how often do you think to wash doll clothes anyway?).
Of course turning your water table/tub into a sensory bin is an easy upgrade, which can be as simple as grabbing some bath toys to the water. If you want to try something a little fancier, check out this list of more than 45 easy water sensory bin ideas collected by Happy Toddler Playtime. The car wash bin is another classic that might appeal to boys more than washing doll clothes.
Another fun and super simple addition to your water play is these sponge balls, which we made years ago from this idea at Natural Beach Living. You can buy sponges at the dollar store and have lots of fun for your water play without spending a lot of money. We used these in sensory bins and in the kiddie pool when we had one. And of course they’re great for water fights, too!