We all know those summer days that are too hot and all you want is to jump through a sprinkler. With these water games, your family will have the chance to cool down while having a blast! Below, you’ll find our favorite water balloon games and water games for kids that will keep your family in cool-down mode all season.

A note about water balloons: as fun as they are, please clean up your little pieces: they can be choking hazards for little birds. Have a few prizes as an incentive to get kids in on a quick clean-up.

If you’re looking for more outdoor summer fun, check out these backyard games, swimming pool games, and games you can play in the dark.

This article is sponsored by Little Tikes, a parent-trusted brand delivering quality, durable products for over 50 years. With outdoor and water toys perfect for every stage and milestone as children grow and play, choose from a range of options this summer to spruce up your backyard, including the Build & Splash ™ Water Table, Turtle Sandbox, 2-in-1 Indoor-Outdoor Slide, Cape Cottage Playhouse ™, and Snug ‘N Secure ™ Swing. Visit littletikes.com to find even more toys!


1. Water Balloon Basketball

This easy water game is a slam dunk for any age because all kiddos need to do is point and shoot a squishy water balloon into a larger-than-regulation-sized hoop. To get the game started, have them hold a hula-hoop tummy level, the way you carry a laundry basket. Then line up kids for a turn to score two points. After each tiny baller sinks a splat-worthy shot, trade out the positions so everyone gets a turn. They shoot, and they score on this one!

2. Water Balloon Towel Toss

Bust out beach towels for this easy-to-run toss water balloon game that’s a little like tennis, but without the net or the racquets. Kiddos play in teams of four, where each pair holds a beach towel gently between them, with a little slack. The goal? To toss the balloon back and forth between two blankets without letting it drop… as many times as you can. The team with the most consecutive bounces (we’re betting they’ll be the driest of the bunch too!) wins!

3. Sponge Ball Relay

Get the energy out of your kiddos with a simple sponge ball relay race. Divide your group into two teams, then set up two empty buckets on one end of the yard, one for each team. Place another two buckets, full of water and sopping wet sponge balls, on the opposite end. When the whistle blows, one player from each team grabs a soaked sponge, runs it lickety-split to the empty bucket, and wrings out as much water as he or she can before running back to tag the next player. It’s easy to play this one with a time limit—the team with the fullest bucket wins! Or, until one team’s bucket spills over in victory.

4. Water Balloon Piñata

String up an array of colorful water balloons in the yard (over a tree, from the swing set) to serve as the piñata. Line up the Littles, and let each one take a swing in turn, with a plastic bat, or even a wrapping paper tube, to hit the delicate target and let loose the wild waterfall. Blindfolded or not, this is one guaranteed way to get wet! 

5. Water Balloon Pop!

water balloons for water games for kids
Gabriel Alenius via Unsplash

The kids will clock plenty of giggle mileage when they play this fast-paced water balloon game. Break your group into two teams; each with a heaping bucket of fully loaded water balloons. When you say go—one member from each team grabs a balloon, races down the yard, and tries to pop it with his or her body (think stomping, sitting, or even laying on it!). Guarantee a dousing by having the kids break balloons on a chair, or, let the ground take the brunt of the splash. Once the balloon is popped, it’s back to the start to tag the next kiddo. On your mark, get set, and go

6. Keep Your Eye on the Balloon

For this game, think carnival shooting range—floating balloons being used as target practice. For the set up you’ll need lots of helium balloons and weights that are strong enough to hold the balloons in place when they take direct hits. Spread the targets out on the playing field. Three rows—each a different height and distance from the shooting line—work well. Then, have kidlets step up and take their best shot; each time they get a hit, they get a prize. Bullseye!

7. Squirt Gun Soccer

You should probably start stockpiling super soakers for this one. Little athletes will have a blast with this no-kick version of soccer that trades feet for squirt guns, and traditional soccer balls for a lighter-than-air beach ball. To start this wannabe match, break the group into two teams, and arm each player with a fully loaded squirt gun. They’ll use the stream to move the ball around the field as they try to score (or block) a goal. Set up sports cones at either end of the field so they know where to aim, and then it’s time to play. Go, team! 

8. DIY Soakers

Just say no to broken water balloon bits littering the yard; use sponge balls instead! Just as throwable, just as drench-able, this soft alternative won’t leave behind a colorful mess for you to pick up. It’s Overflowing has the information you need to make your colorful soakers.

9. Cup Races

Think NCAA tourney when you whip out cup races at the party. All the tiny kiddos will get a chance to work their way through the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight for a shot at the big time—the Final Four—as they compete head-to-head, racing plastic cups down a string, using squirt guns. Check out the setup and racing details at All for the Boys.

10. Sponge Ball Toss

Got buckets? Then you’ve got all you need for some sponge ball toss. Line the kidlets up facing each other a couple of feet apart, in two straight lines, Madeline style. One holds a bucket, the other a sopping wet sponge ball. The object? Toss the sponge ball into the bucket. The catch? With each successful toss, the bucket holder takes a step back. Once the player misses the bucket, it’s time to switch places. The prize? Soaking in the fun of it all.

11. Kiddie Pool Toe Diving

Put that tiny pool to good use with this water game. Fill it with trinkets, small toys, and pool toys. Then, set a time limit for each player. They have that amount of time to get as many items out of the pool with their toes as possible. The player with the most items at the end of the round wins. Want an adult version of this water game? Use a blindfold.

12. Jump Rope Water Challenge

This three-player water game is easy to play. Give the “jumper” a large plastic cup of water and have each contestant jump rope 10 times. The player with the most water left in their cup at the end of the round is the winner.

13. Under the Sprinkler

You can play classic yard games under a sprinkler for cool fun. Try Simon Says, Freeze Dance, or have kids pretend to walk and talk like different animals!

—with additional reporting by Taylor Clifton


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