OUTDOOR WATER PLAY NECESSITIES FOR YOUNG KIDS
Help keep the little ones cool in the summer heat with these easy outdoor water play necessities!
Summertime is one of our family’s favourite seasons. While we have a soft spot for the cool relief fall brings along there’s something about beautiful summer days that can’t be beat.
However, keeping three young kids occupied during the summer months isn’t always easy – I’ve heard my fair share of “I’m bored” coming my way and I only have one kid who can talk so far!
Summer time heat waves aren’t fun for anyone and trying to keep multiple tiny humans amused and occupied in the heat can be quite a task. It’s the biggest little downside that comes along with loving summertime weather.
I’ve been really thankful to have some staples on hand all summer to quickly throw together some easy outdoor water play on the days we needed something to do outside of the usual pool or sprinkler fun. Especially after a summer of pandemic life, with another one getting ready to start!
Here’s a list of items I consider necessities, or at least helpful ideas, for a summer filled with outdoor water play that isn’t a pool, sprinkler or water gun.
1. A Water Table
First, I’ll start by saying this one is debatable on necessity level. However, there are quite a few water tables out there. They vary in size, price and simplicity and you’re bound to find one that works for you specific space and age group!
When we’re in the mood for some outdoor water play we bring out our Ikea Flisat table. It’s not specifically marketed as a water table (and I would add a layer of sealant to it if you plan to regularly use it for wet play) but it’s an awesome sensory table!
We use the Ikea Flisat table because of how multi-purpose it is. It’s lightweight so we store it indoors and carry it out when needed. Various sized Trofast bins fit inside to allow for many kinds of play. It’s the perfect height for both our small twins and our older toddler. It comes with ‘lids’ for the spaces so it can be used as a regular table in the playroom too!
If you’re looking for a classic plastic water table that you can leave outdoors then I’d recommend either a Little Tikes or a Step2 water table. They’ve released simple ones that are an open rectangle as well as an array of fun ones that have attachments! Depending on the size of your home, these ones could be brought inside for winter or rainy days for indoor water fun too.
Don’t forget – most of these tables can also be used for sand.
2. REUSABLE ICE CUBES
A few years ago I started collecting reusable ice cubes as neither of us were great at remembering to make actual ice cubes. Three kids later and they’ve become an awesome stash of sensory materials for outdoor water play!
Our collection is from Dollarama, thrifting and the Disney Store but more stores that sell kitchenware will have reusable iced cubes. We’ve got simple shapes, animals, holiday themed ones and characters like Mickey Mouse!
For younger ones, simply add them to a water bin and supply different scooping materials. We practiced lots of scooping and transferring with them and they end up coming out all year round in this house.
3. SAND TOYS
Sand toys have so many fun uses outside of the playground or beach! At the beginning of every summer I do a sand toy inventory and see what we have, what’s broken and what we could use more of.
While the dollar store is a perfect one stop shop for some awesome sand toys I always check our local thrift stores first. They’re even cheaper at the thrift store and it saves them from heading to landfill. I will also check out the local Facebook groups like the Buy Nothing groups to see what others near me are unloading.
Ikea is another store that has put out some really cute sand sets the last few years. For 2021, they’ve got this adorable five piece baking set meant for the beach or sandbox and I will most likely be grabbing one on my next trip to Ikea to complete our outdoor water play stash!
While they can be used in a sand box we also use sand toys for water play, oobleck, moon sand and foam play – just to name a few.
Some sand toy staples for us are:
- Animal shapes
- Small watering can
- A boat
Don’t forget – sand toys can be used in the bathtub too!
4. KITCHEN UTENSILS
I guess these could technically fall under the same category as sand toys. However there are so many different kitchen utensils that pair well with outdoor water play – or any sensory really!
Every time I’m at the thrift store I check out the kitchen utensils section. They’re very budget friendly and always full of possibilities. Sometimes you can find really high quality pieces for dirt cheap too.
Our stash of thrifted kitchen utensils include:
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Garlic press
- Potato ricer and masher
- Different sizes of spatulas, serving spoons and whisks
- Muffin tins and cake pans
Be warned that certain metals can rust if left in water and many materials will start to grow fungus or mold. Be sure to wash and dry any utensils that get used in outdoor water play.
5. BATH TOYS
Yup, you read that right!
Most of the bath toys we have in the house are rotated through our outdoor water play activities, too. We only use toys that can be easily washed out and dried with no unknown mold potential – aka, no water toys with open holes.
These bath toys include:
Dena brand toys and Squigz are two of my favourite toys to rotate between playroom, bathtub and sensory play.
They’re all products made from silicone and, while I’m not the biggest fan of silicone environment wise, silicone is a great material for outdoor water play toys. Waterproof, easy to clean and quick to dry with no hidden areas for water or other materials to hide.
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