The sun is shining, the bees are buzzing, and the kids are bouncing off the walls! If you've run out of board games to play and you can't stand another Minecraft discussion then these outdoor water games will save your sanity.
We have 33 fun and fabulous water games for kids (or adults!) that will fill the air with laughter and get the whole family smiling (as well as pretty wet). Look no further for water balloons, cup races, and even a DIY person car wash.
Cup to cup
For days when you need a game that doesn't take 45 different resources, cup to cup is your go-to outdoor activity for your kids. All you need are 2 buckets and some plastic cups. Fill a bucket with water and place it down on the ground. The players sit in a straight line, one behind the other, in front of the bucket. The last person in line should be facing the opposite way with their back to the person behind them. In front of them is an empty bucket. The team must work together to fill the empty bucket by filling a cup with water and passing it over their heads down the line. The first team to fill their bucket wins. As Play Party Plan suggests, a fun adult version is to have all the players blindfolded!
Keep hold of your two plastic buckets, and you can play this next game too! Place one full bucket of water at one side of your garden, and an empty one on the other. Each player gets a sponge and must use the sponge to transport the water from the full bucket to the empty one, filling it up from the bucket and carrying it on their head across the garden! You can play as a team and time how long it takes to fill up the bucket, or use several pairs of buckets and run this as a race.
This is a great game for little ones, to get them to cool down in the heat, but it's also a lot of fun for teens and adults if you use smaller items. Start by filling a kiddie pool with water, and throw in lots of fun toys. Rings and rubber ducks are great for smaller children, quarters and smooth pebbles can create a challenge for bigger kids or adults. Put 60 seconds on the clock and players have to fish out as many of the items as possible from the pool - only with their toes!
Duck, duck, splash!
You probably played the classic kid's game "Duck, Duck, Goose" at least once as a child. This a great water-themed twist that is sure to bring soggy fun to your afternoon! As in the original version, players sit in a circle on the floor/grass. Pick one player to be "it" and give them a cup filled with water. This player must walk around the circle, tapping people on the head and saying "Duck". Rather than saying "Goose" when they reach their chosen player, they tip the cup of water over their head! Then this (very wet) player must chase them around the circle to get back to their seat first.
This game takes a little more preparation, but it's great fun for kids of all ages to play. You can use shop-bought bowling pins from toy sets to make this easier, or you can make your own with Learn Play Imagine's easy instructions. The bowling balls are just water balloons filled with water and frozen overnight. Set up your pins and keep score, seeing who can manage a strike first!
Roll 6 and splash!
A perfectly easy and fun game for little ones, Roll 6 and Splash is quick to set up and lots of fun to play. All you need is a large shallow pan or tray filled with water and a large foam die. Sit all the children in a circle around the tray and have them take turns to roll the die. If someone rolls a 6 then they can slap their hand into the tray and splash everyone!
Water balloon toss
Water balloons are great things to keep in your cupboard for those unexpected hot summer afternoons. This simple game involves a few plastic bowls and some filled water balloons. Line the bowls up, labeling them with different points if you like, and challenge your kids to throw balloons into them. For extra squeals, you can have the other players stand next to the bowls, or even place them on their heads!
Water balloon pinata
Instead of using water balloons for this game (which are made with thin plastic so that they burst more easily), you're better off using regular balloons. Fill them up with water and hang them from a pole or monkey bars. Give your players a bat or a stick and let them loose on the balloons. The first player to pop the balloon (and get drenched!) is the winner!
Water balloon volleyball
Sticking with our water balloon theme, this game is great for older kids, or for a grown-up picnic activity. It's a good team game, as the players will have to work together to drench the other team. So if you're looking for ways to teach your kids cooperation then this is it! Split into pairs and give each pair a towel and a pile of water balloons. Set up a volleyball or badminton net in the middle of the garden and have the players place the balloons in the towel and launch them over the net at the other team. You're trying to get them wet, but they're trying to catch the balloon in the net. You can score just like tennis, but soggier!
Back-to-back water dash
A great water balloon game for all ages, that will end up with a lot of wet shirts! Back-to-back water balloon dash pits pairs against each other to be the first to get to the end of the race without bursting their balloon! Get the pairs to face away from each other, place a water balloon in between them and have them link arms to hold the balloon in place. They must race other pairs to the finish line without ending up with wet backs!
Super soaker sponge balls
If you're looking for a more natural and eco-friendly take on a perfect summer water fight, then follow these instructions from Natural Beach Living and make your own super soaker sponge balls. You can split into teams and score points for how many hits you get, or just let loose and try to soak everyone!
As serious as it sounds, but a lot of fun, this game involves a couple of decks of playing cards, 8 half-filled plastic cups, and a large pitcher of water. Lay out the cups and pitcher on the table and a deck of cards in front of each player. At the same time, players will turn over the top card on their deck and whoever gets the highest card dumps a cup over their opponent's head. If one player gets War then they can dump the pitcher over the head of their opponent!
Looking for quick ways to help your kids cool off? Then this simple sponge toss game is the perfect one to play. You'll need 2 large buckets, one big sponge and some water. Fill both of the buckets with water and place them some distance apart (depending on how far your kids can throw). Get one player to stand by each bucket, dip the sponge in the water and throw it to the person opposite them. Points are knocked off for dropping the sponge!
DIY soaker seat
If you're ready to get your teeth into a bigger project, and you have a bunch of teens who love getting their friends wet then this tutorial for building your very own soaker seat is well worth your time. A substantial workshop project, it'll last more than one summer and your house will be THE place to be every year!
Squirt me now!
Another fun and silly cooperative game here, so it's great for kids who aren't a fan of competition. All you need are blindfolds and squirt bottles. In pairs, blindfold one player and give them a squirt bottle. Spin the blindfolded partner around and tell them to start walking. The other player must give them directions to squirt them in the knees, feet, arms, torso, and head. There will be a lot of laughing with this game!
Looking to get your friends as wet as possible, then this is the best way to do it and have fun at the same time! One player holds a colander over their head while the rest of the team tries to throw water balloons into the colander. Points are awarded for each unburst balloon in the colander at the end of the game.
Balloon and spoon race
Take the traditional egg and spoon race and make it more challenging? Yes please! Water balloons are even more fragile than eggs, and they definitely splash further when they fall on the grass. This can be a great relay race where teams race through a course and back to the beginning, swapping the balloon over onto the next player's spoon. Prepare for splashes!
Water balloon dodgeball
Who doesn't love trying to take the opposing team out at the knees in a harmless game of dodgeball? This version simply swaps the softball for a bunch of water balloons. Mark out a "pitch" with cones or tape. Put as many water balloons as you can fill in a large bowl in the middle of the pitch and let havoc commence!
Wet musical chairs
We love this twist on a children's party classic from our very own list of brilliant water balloon games. Just like the original, line up one fewer chair than there are players. But, before you start the music, place a water balloon on each chair. Now players must choose between getting wet or losing the game!
Another fun outdoor game from our own list towel toss is a little like water balloon volleyball, but instead of your opponent trying to get you wet, you're working together to throw AND catch the balloon with the towel. It's tricky, but staying dry is a pretty good incentive!
What do you need for this game? Just some lengths of rope and a whole mess of water balloons! Tie a water balloon to the end of a short length of rope, repeat for however many team members you have playing the game. Tie the other end of the rope to each team member's leg and then blow the whistle! The aim is to stand on everyone else's balloons to pop them, and the winner is the last water balloon left standing! As we point out, this is a better idea on grass!
A much more soggy version of pass the parcel, this fun kid's party game is bound to get everyone giggling! Fill a load of water balloons and seat your guests in a circle. Give one person the balloon, start the music and get them to pass it around. When the music stops, whoever has the balloon must hold it above their head and pop it! This is one present you don't want to get!
Water balloon baseball
Is there a single sport that can't be made better by adding in water balloons? I don't think so! Take our very own national treasure - baseball. Sure, it's fun with a normal ball, but why not add into the mix the chance of getting splashed in the face every time you bat? If you do manage to hit the "ball" without getting wet, then normal rules apply (or you can make up your own!).
Squirt gun knock down
Invented for toddlers, to be honest, you can adapt this game for all ages, just by making the targets harder to hit. Build the most elaborate plastic cup tower you can, arm your game players with squirt guns, and see who can knock the most cups down. I bet dad will be the most competitive!
Slip 'n' slide
Why should toddlers have all the fun? Even if you don't have tiny tots to entertain, you can have a lot of laughs with a slip 'n' slide. Set it up in the garden and run competitions on how fast everyone can throw themselves. And if you do have little ones, they'll love seeing how long they can stand up as they slide along it.
Obviously, it's a good idea to leave actual firefighting to the professionals, but this game is great for non-firefighters too. A tweaked relay game, the aim is pretty simple: use a cup to carry water from a full bucket to an empty bucket on the other side of the garden. The catch? You're running backward and forwards across a slip 'n' slide! You can buy one of these or Kid-Friendly Things To Do show you how to DIY it. You'll want to video camera out for this one!
Water obstacle course
If you've got a little prep time, then obstacle courses are great for occupying kids (and adults) of all ages. They're also great family games night ideas as everyone enjoys seeing their parents and siblings struggle! Meaningful Mama has some great ideas on how to make your own DIY water-based course.
The shark bit my cup
Another spin on a water relay race, this one would fit in well with a children's party themed around sharks, or pirates. Take two small cups and poke a few holes in the bottom of them. Divide the group into two teams, and stand them each by a bucket filled with water. At the other end of the garden is an empty bucket. The team must be the first to fill their bucket, carrying the full cups on top of their head. Prepare for some wet pirates!
Flipper fill up
If you want to make a game even more bonkers, then all you have to do is add some element of dress-up into the mix. Here we have another classic relay game, except this time players have to put on flippers, fill a small bucket from one large bucket of water, and walk to an empty bucket with the small bucket on their heads. Once back with their team, they have to exchange flippers and the bucket with the next player in line. You'll soon find out who is the most coordinated!
Frozen t-shirt race
If you've got a little warning that you're going to be hosting a garden full of warm and bored children (or teens) then you can prepare for this fun and challenging game. Get hold of one t-shirt for each player, completely soak it, squeeze it out and fold it up. Then, putting wax paper between the shirts to make sure you can separate them, put them all in the freezer overnight. When the games begin, give each player a shirt and challenge them to be the first one to unfold it and put it on!
DIY person wash
Backyard Boss certainly lives up to their name with this guide to making your own "person" wash. Great as part of a water obstacle course, or a relay race, this nifty structure will help you cool off your kids, and yourself in no time at all.
Kiddie pool kickball
If one slip 'n' slide isn't enough for you then how do you feel about adding in 3 kiddie pools too? Take your everyday kickball game, place a kiddie pool at each base, and arrange your slip 'n' slide so it leads to home base. Then start the game! You'll want to catch all this on camera for sure!
Water balloon fight
Sure, there are loads of brilliant games that you can set up in your backyard, and we're sure you'll have loads of fun. But, when you get to the end of your list and ours, the best way to finish off a water games session is a simple and old-school water balloon fight! All you need is a large bucket of filled water balloons and some over-excited participants. Enjoy getting drenched!