It’s summer! If you’re looking for the perfect ingredients for backyard fun, add a pinch of friends and family, a dash of laughter, a smidge of silly, a dab of imagination, and a sprinkle of … sprinklers!
Sun and waterplay go together like lemonade and ice cubes. When the temperatures go up, kids love to cool down with water.
Fun with sprinklers can be more than just running through and joyously shrieking (but shrieking and joy are always encouraged).
Make sure your grass is clear of all rocks and other debris, slather on the waterproof sunscreen, and have the towels ready for the post-play warmup.
Provide your kids with plastic bowls and have them place the bowls on their heads while they stand under or near the sprinkler. When they think their bowl is full, have the kids walk or run to a large bucket or bin and see how long it takes for them to fill it up. Younger kids could work together to fill one container while older ones could have a race to see who fills their own the fastest.
Put your foot in, put your foot out, put your foot in, and shake it all about. Continue through the body parts with the biggest laughs coming when your kids put their hair in. Make sure you turn yourself around!
Add a little H2O to your kids’ favourite movements by having them cartwheel, front or back walkover, or scissor jump through the sprinkler.
With one or two ropes, kids can skip through the spraying water. Try adding a few skipping songs such as Apples, Peaches, Pears, and Plums to add even more fun.
Kids love to imitate animals. Have them gallop like a horse, hop like a bunny, jump like a kangaroo, waddle like a penguin, or crawl like a bear through the sprinkler. And if their mouths aren’t full of water from laughing, making the noise to accompany each animal movement will amp up the fun.
If your yard has a swing set, move the sprinkler close to the equipment and kids can swing through the water and glide down the wet slide.
While in the yard, who not pay homage to its tools? This giggle-generating game has one child acting as the wheelbarrow and another as its driver. The driver holds the wheelbarrow’s ankles while the wheelbarrow walks with their hands. Can both make it through the water without falling down?
Move the sprinkler to a patio or sidewalk and have kids ride their bikes, trikes, or scooters through the water for a fun wash. Kids not riding can use sponges to help with the job. Alternatively, leave the sprinkler on the grass and have kids wash their buckets, toy cars, or balls.
This game is an oldie (it dates back to the late Middle Ages!) but a greatie. Have at least two kids raise their arms and hold hands to make an arch (or bridge) while the others walk one by one beneath it through the water. Players then sing the London Bridge rhyme (London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.) At the end of the rhyme, the bridge is lowered to “catch” a player.
Sponges are great at absorbing water (and for cleaning windows!) But how long can a kid run with a wet sponge before all that water drips away? The aim of this game is for kids to fill sponges with water from the sprinkler and to then run and squeeze them into a container. How many times will they need to run back and forth until the container is full? Place the sprinkler at one end of your yard and containers at the other. (And if they happen to pass a window, maybe those could get a little love too!)
Slip ’n Slide
Have some slippery, drenching, thrilling fun with your own homemade slip ’n slide. Set up a tarp on the grass beside the sprinkler and kids can run and slide to their hearts’ content. If your yard happens to slope a little, even better!
Spin some water into this beloved game and watch your kids hop their way into fun. One player squats down into a frog position (toes and hands on the ground, with a straight back). The next player places their hands on the frog’s back and jumps over the first player with their legs open like a frog. The jumper then becomes the frog and the original frog becomes the leaper. This game can be played beside or through the sprinkler.
Turn up some summer favourites and kids can dance their sillies out until the music stops. Can your child stand totally still until the music starts again? Warning: this game may produce endless giggles.
Sprinkler time is the very best time for your child to learn new dances. If your child doesn’t know The Sprinkler, what better time to educate them in all things dancy? Parents and older kids can jump in and teach kids The Twist, The Macarena, The Conga Line, The Chicken Dance, and, if your dance knowledge is limited, maybe even The Running Man? Kids can make up their own dances and put on a performance. So You Think You Can Dance – Sprinkler Version, anyone?
Jumping, running, dancing, sliding, and laughing are all ingredients of a super summertime activity. Set up those sprinklers and your kids will splash their way to a fun-filled day.
Related Read: 10 ways to have fun in your backyard
This article was originally published by Active for Life, a national initiative created to help parents raise physically literate children. At activeforlife.com, parents, educators, and coaches will find fun activities, engaging articles, and free resources to get kids active, healthy and happy. Sign up for Active for Life’s monthly newsletters. Connect with Active for Life on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.