8 Fun Water Games
Marco Polo, water limbo and more
By: Rhea Seymour
When temperatures soar, water play is a guaranteed good time for kids (and moms!). Whether your kids are strong swimmers or new to the pool, they'll go wild for these cool and fun summer games.
Bucket blast (Age: 3-5)
For this game, you need two or more children. Each child or team will need a bucket of water, an empty bucket and a paper cup. The first child fills the cup with water from the full bucket and runs with it to the empty bucket to pour their water into it. Both children (or teams) continue until they empty the original bucket of water and fill the second bucket. The child or team with the most water in the bucket wins. For even more fun, cut a quarter-sized hole in each cup and get the kids to plug it using their fingers or by placing it on their heads while they run to fill the bucket.
Butterfinger ball (Age: 3-5)
This one is played in the shallow end of a pool. Butter each child's hand with suntan lotion and then wet a large beach ball, says Penny Warner, author of Splish Splash: Water Fun for Kids (Chicago Review Press). The kids throw a ball back and forth to each other and have a fun giggly time trying to hold on to it.
Tug of war (Age: 4+)
Grab a skipping rope or backyard hose and get the kids to hang on to each end. (With more than two children, divvy them up by strength or size, with an even number on each side.) Place the middle of the hose over a running sprinkler. Laughs will ensue as they tug on the hose and pull each other back and forth into the water.
Water limbo (Age: 4-5)
Hold a hose horizontally with the water on full force; place your thumb partway into the stream so it jets into a straight line. Each child takes a turn walking under the water. Keep lowering the height of the water limbo line. The winner is the one who makes it under the water at the lowest level without touching it. The losers will be all wet, of course!
What time is it, Mr. Sharkey? (Age: 5+ , kids who can swim in the deep end)
One person is Mr. Sharkey and stands at the end of the pool while the rest of the kids stand at the other end. The kids call out "What time is it Mr. Sharkey?" and Mr. Sharkey says a time, such as 4 o'clock. Then all the kids take four swim strokes toward him. This continues until Mr. Sharkey answers: "It's lunch time!" and the kids all turn and swim back to the starting end of the pool. If Mr. Sharkey tags one of the kids, he or she is now Mr. Sharkey.
Marco Polo (Age: 6+)
To play this classic pool game, choose one person to be Marco Polo. That player closes her eyes and counts to 10 while the rest of the players scatter in the pool. After the count, Marco swims around with her eyes closed trying to tag another player. To help discover where the other players are, Marco Polo calls out "Marco!" to which the other players must respond "Polo!" Once she tags another player, that player is Marco. Or, try this variation: get all of the players, instead of just Marco, to close their eyes so they never know who is calling Marco Polo.
Treasure hunt (Age: 7-10)
Toss coins into a pool and instruct the kids to dive in and collect as many as they can. The winner is the child who brings up the most "treasure" in one go. This game also works in a kiddie pool (without the diving, of course!), says Warner. Use any object that sinks, such as rocks spray-painted gold. Toss them into the kiddie pool and let the kids fish them out.
Water basketball (Age: 8-12)
Throw any round thing into the pool, such as an inner tube or Styrofoam ring, which will be the basket, says Warner. Then try to sink a plastic ball or beach ball in the hoop. The fact that the "basket" keeps moving around makes this game hoops of fun.