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Cool off with easy, DIY backyard water fun for kids – Entertainment & Life – Austin 360

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Cool off with easy, DIY backyard water fun for kids – Entertainment & Life – Austin 360


We know: It’s hot. This year our first 100-degree day came earlier than average, and we’ve already hit a high of 108 degrees.

With many pools, movie theaters, indoor playscapes and water parks closed or at limited capacity because of COVID-19, it’s been hard to catch a cool break this summer other than inside our homes.

We’ve had to make our own cool fun. The good news is, we can make it out of stuff we might already have on hand. Here are some ideas for cooling off with the kids this summer.

Sponge bombs

We got this idea from A Little Pinch of Perfect.

Instead of an ordinary sponge or a water balloon, soak your family by throwing sponge bombs.

4 sponges

2 hair ties, rubber bands or pieces of yarn

Cut each sponge into three equal strips lengthwise.

Line up six strips evenly. To secure them together, wrap a piece of yarn around the middle of the strips, tie a knot and trim off the excess yarn, or use a hair tie or rubber band. Then fluff up the bombs so they are not flat and look like flowers.

Soak them in a bucket of water, then throw them at one another.

Makes 2 bombs.

Sponge bull’s-eyes

Draw a bull’s-eye on a fence in chalk.

Mark off a line an agreed-upon distance from the bull’s-eye. Toss a sponge bomb, a water balloon or another sponge at the bull’s-eye to see who gets closest to the center. You can also can do this with a water gun.

DIY slip-and-slide

Happy Hooligans gives us this idea for making a slip-and-slide.

1 large plastic tarp, sheet or tablecloth

Rocks or stakes to hold the plastic in place

1 bottle of shampoo or dishwashing liquid

1 sprinkler or hose with a sprayer attachment

Spread out the plastic tarp, sheet or tablecloth. Secure it in place with large rocks or stakes. It will work better if you have it on an incline. Squirt shampoo or dishwashing liquid all over the plastic to make it slippery.

Turn on the sprinkler or hang a hose with a sprayer attachment off a tree or chair onto the plastic.

Have the kids run and slide onto the plastic.

Make your own sprinkler

We love this idea from Housing a Forest because it reuses a plastic bottle and you get to design how many holes you want your sprinkler to have.

1 large plastic bottle such as a juice bottle or soda bottle

Waterproof tape such as duct tape or electrical tape

A hose

Clean out the bottle with dish soap in advance. Using a drill or a nail and a hammer, pierce holes throughout the bottle. Tape the top of the bottle securely to the hose outflow end so that no water can escape.

Lay the hose and bottle on the ground or hang it from a tree. Turn on the water and let the fun begin. This also works well with a make-your-own slip-and-slide.

Sprinkler games

Many games can be turned into water games when you add a sprinkler. Here are some of our favorites:

Red Light, Green Light (to get closer and closer to the sprinkler)

Simon Says

Red Rover, Red Rover (teams are on opposite sides of the sprinkler)

Mother May I?

Water limbo (someone holds a hose lower and lower)

Water gun tag

Start with a clean, dry shirt. Set a timer for an agreed-upon time. See who can end the time with the dryest shirt.

Balloon knock-down

Line up balloons (either filled with air or water) on a table. Set an agreed-upon distance from the table based on age and the power of your water gun. See who can knock down the most balloons using their water gun. You can have each kid go for a different color of balloon if you have them.

Water balloon volleyball/softball/tennis/football

Convert most sports into a water activity by changing from a ball to a water balloon.

Duck, Duck, Splash

Play Duck, Duck Goose, except instead of saying “goose,” you say “splash” and empty a water bottle on their head and then run around the circle before they catch you. You also can use a big car wash sponge for this one, or a cup of water.

Water bottle toss

Toss a filled water bottle with the top off back and forth to a partner and see how far you can throw it and still catch it.

Cold potato

Use a filled water bottle (or one that has been frozen) or a big car wash sponge to toss around a circle. When the music stops, the person who has the water bottle is eliminated.

Ice paintsicles

Easy Peasy and Fun offers this great craft, which the Contemporary Austin typically would do each August.

1 cup of water

Red, yellow, green and blue food coloring

Craft sticks

Ice cube tray

Pour your water into your ice cube tray evenly.

Add just a tiny drop of red food coloring to four different cubes and mix well. Repeat with a different four cubes for the remaining colors.

Place a craft stick into each ice cube mold.

Freeze for about 4 hours to 6 hours, or overnight

Pull on the sticks to remove from the tray

Lay old newspaper or a table cloth down on the table before you paint (food coloring will stain).

Hold the wooden sticks to paint on a piece of paper using your ice paintsicles.

Painting ice


Washable paints


Fill a tray with ice cubes. Use a paint brush to color the ice and create a scene in your tray.

Ice painting with salt and watercolors

A Dab of Glue Will Do offers this fun (and scientific) art project.

Blocks of ice or ice cubes

Tray or baking sheet

Table salt

Liquid watercolors

Fill a plastic container with water and freeze it for several hours until it is solid. Don’t have time? Just use ice cubes.

Run the plastic container under warm water for a few seconds to loosen the block of ice. Transfer it to a baking sheet.

Paint the ice with watercolors. Then sprinkle salt on top to see the reaction between the ice and the salt.

Make your own water table

Fill a shallow tub or a rectangular cake pan with water. Bring out the bath toys to create a water play table. Or bring out the bath toys to your kiddie pool. Remember, kids can drown in 1/2 an inch of water, so this needs to be supervised at all times.

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